How to handle credit card processor conduct & complaints

It’s unfortunate, but from time to time issues crop up with your credit card processor. Perhaps your terminal has stopped working, or there is a delay with the money getting into your account. Oftentimes a simple phone call can fix the issue, but what can you do if that’s not the case?

Most of the time, referencing the original contract will tell you what your rights are. 

1. Credit card processing company

Your first step is a call to the company with which you signed your merchant services contract; most issues can be resolved at this level. Take note of the date and time of the call, along with the name of the representative you speak with as well as the reference number, if applicable. If the situation is not resolved as expected, this information will be useful for your next steps.

2. Payment Card Network Operator (PCNO)

If your credit card processing company can't resolve your issue, then try complaining to your related PCNO which includes Amex , Discover, Interac, Mastercard, The Exchange, UnionPay, and Visa. Ensure to check the links provided as some of these will work with the Ombusdman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) to manage these complaints and others will have their own processes. 

3. Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC)

If you believe your credit card processing company has violated the Code of Conduct for the Credit and Debit Card Industry, you can make a complaint to the Federal Consumer Agency of Canada (1-866-461-3222 or​). However, to access the formal complaint form, visit the FCAC web site where you can also learn more about its role in monitoring the credit and debit card industry in Canada.

4. Contact a CFIB Business Advisor 

CFIB’s Business Advisors may have other advice and tips that can help you with your situation. Before calling, check your contract to see if your services provider is also your terminal provider. When trying to exit a contract, many merchants do not realize that they in fact have two separate contracts, one for the processing of transactions and one for the physical terminal. If you believe that you were fraudulently signed to the contract, our Advisors may be able to point you in the direction of more agencies where you can file a complaint. 

CFIB speaks regularly with the PCNOs and FCAC; having concrete examples of the issues small business are facing with regards to payment processing helps greatly with our advocacy work in this area. Sharing your story allows us to keep all the players in the payment processing industry abreast of the issues and advocate for change. (Note: we never identify a business when sharing issues and concerns). 

What is the Code of Conduct for the Credit and Debit Card Industry?

Written by CFIB, the Credit Card Code of Conduct, created in 2010, was a momentous occasion for merchants in Canada. Along with outlining the expectations and limitations of merchant services providers, such as CHASE, Moneris, and Global Payments, it solidified your rights. 

Since its initiation, CFIB has successfully lobbied to have more rights for you added to the Code:

  • 2013: 90-day penalty-free exit from any contract, including any related contract signed on or after November 12, 2013, with notice of increased fees or rates  
  • 2015: CFIB negotiates the first reduction of 10% in interchange fees and a rate freeze for 5 years; new mobile and contactless contracts come under the Code; a merchant can give a 90-day notice of non-renewal at any time for a contract whose term ends on or after April 13, 2015.
  • 2016: For contracts ending after February 12, 2016, automatic renewals roll over only for 6-month intervals.
  • 2020: CFIB negotiates a second rate reduction on interchange fees of 10-25%, plus a new rate freeze for an additional 5 years. 

A full timeline and information on what CFIB continues to fight for can be found here.