Divyesh and Neha Patel, who run the Mini Market at Englefield Green, Surrey, decided to get an Epay card machine. The rep arrived and quoted £15 as a monthly payment on an 18-month lease. The couple were told that the prices were that good because they belonged to the Shakti buying group, which had negotiated a favourable rate.

But then it turned out the merchant services provider wasn’t Epay, but Universal Transaction Processing (UTP). They only found out when Barclays Bank told them. Then when they saw the merchant application form they were shocked to see that Divyesh’s signature had been forged in three places.

Then they received a letter from First Data (which provides the link between UTP and the bank) setting out the charges: a monthly payment of £22 + Vat and a lease of 48 months. They had had no paperwork from UTP at this point.

When the couple called me they had decided to cancel the direct debit they had initially signed.

I sent an email to both Epay and UTP to see if either could shine a light on the situation, but got no reply from Epay (understandable: they didn’t get the business, but whose rep was it anyway?). From UTP I got this from their sales director: “Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I can assure you that these matters are taken seriously and communication with the parties involved are ongoing. As you can appreciate I cannot go into details with anyone outside of the parties involved due to both confidentiality and data protection.”

In the meantime UTP had been in touch with the Patels. “They said there had been no fraud,” says Divyesh, “and offered the original rate.” Should he take it, he wondered?

I suggested looking carefully for any other charges – with cards there are all sorts of different rates.

Finally, a good outcome. UTP/First Data have now given Divyesh a rate of £11 a month (half that £22 first proposed and less than the £15 promised by the rep). “This was because there are hidden charges on transactions,” says Divyesh. “I should have done my homework.”

He added that now he knew how the rep was able to afford his flashy BMW.

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