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Restaurants are growing frustrated with their payment processors

Operators' satisfaction with their providers fell more than any other industry last year, according to a survey by J.D. Power.
Restaurants' satisfaction with payment processors fell 18 points. / Photograph: Shutterstock.
Restaurants' satisfaction with payment processors fell 18 points. / Photograph: Shutterstock.

Restaurants are tired of wrestling with their credit-card terminals. 

A new survey from research firm J.D. Power found that restaurants’ satisfaction with their merchant services providers fell 18 points in 2022. That was the largest decrease in what was an overall decline in small business sentiment about their payment processors last year.

The widespread frustration is being driven primarily by the costs and fees charged by the providers, J.D. Power said. Those charges became harder to swallow amid a year of inflation and supply chain challenges that impacted virtually all industries.

Small businesses’ overall satisfaction with their merchant services providers fell 6 points last year, to 853 on a 1,000-point scale. 

But restaurants are the most fed up, in part because they tend to be among the smallest of small businesses and therefore get less support from providers. Many don’t even have an assigned account manager, said John Cabell, managing director of payments intelligence at J.D. Power, in an email. 

“They have a lot more to navigate in terms of learning the functionality and are also heavier users of self-service channels, which can be frustrating without adequate support and knowledge,” he said.

Notably, a shift back to more in-person business coming out of the pandemic could be adding to their woes. “Satisfaction with providers tends to be lower among businesses using in-person/non-digital payment methods,” Cabell said.

Technical difficulties at the point of sale are quite common. Businesses told J.D. Power that fewer than half (43%) of in-person credit and debit card transactions are completed without assistance. That number was only slightly better—47%—for online orders. 

The most frequent problems were cards being declined, tap/dip/swipe issues, frozen screens and receipt malfunctions, according to the survey.

Among providers, Bank of America, Square and PaySafe earned the highest satisfaction scores, while Elavon, Intuit and EVO scored lowest.

The survey of 4,825 small businesses was conducted from September through November.

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