Harbortouch gives away POS systems to capture transaction fees

Harbortouch gives away POS systems to capture transaction fees

Summary: The financial services company subsidizes hardware and software for small restaurants and retailers, in exchange for a five-year-long merchant processing relationship.


The most important investment that a small restaurant or retailer must make is in a decent point-of-sale (POS) system to keep track of trends, orders and inventory. The rub is that any company in start-up mode probably doesn't have the upfront cash to spend on one.

That's why Harbortouch Systems is giving its POS hardware and software away -- in exchange for a five-year commitment to its transaction processing services. You knew there was a catch, right? Especially since typical merchant agreements are usually in the three-year range.

Not surprisingly, Harbortouch started its life on the financial services side -- it serves about 140,000 businesses around the United States -- usually small companies such as dealerships, restaurants, and e-commerce merchants and mom-and-pop retail operations, said Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO of Harbortouch, which started life as financial services company United Bank Card.

The company changed its name when it started focusing on and developing POS equipment -- ranging from traditional systems to tablet and table-side devices. The value of these systems runs anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000, Isaacman estimated.

"We can give the solution away at no cost to get the financial services business," he said.

Harbortouch is targeting companies with at least $150,000 in sales annually, up to about $5 million. It considers upwards of 2,000 merchant applications per month - when a small business applies for an account, it makes its POS technology request and most companies get what they request, Isaacman said. Once the five years are up, the small business owns the equipment outright, he said.

Harbortouch's fees are competitive with other processing companies, although Isaacman didn't offer specifics.

That said, five years is a very long commitment to anything right now (it's longer than a U.S. presidential term!), so any small business considering this scenario for meeting its POS needs is well-advised to read the fine print of the contract and be sure to ask questions about hidden fees that might apply outside the terms of the basic service. 

Topic: SMBs

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  • It depends on your provider, and your size, volume, ect

    "Harbortouch's fees are competitive with other processing companies"

    But at the same time they're calculating that X amount of those 150,000 in sales are via credit cards, where they'll make their money back, plus some.

    But those fees from other processors vary with many factors. Companies might get a better deal buying their own POS and using therir own processor, as opposed to buying this. At 20-30 thousand dollars, will businesses be paying for tons of options they'll never need or use?
    William Farrel
  • Buyer's Beware: Nothing is really free.

    Unless they are a non-profit organization, beware of free POS offerings. There is a price tag somewhere, and we advise to calculate the Total Cost of Ownership of your POS technology (Including the credit card processing fees) over 3-5 years to compare your options and make the best choice for your business.

  • Re Free Pos

    I think these systems are great if you are starting out. Generally the new wave of free pos are simple yet sexy looking aps that run on IOS. They make their money on the credit card account.

    [disclaimer] I'm founder of a new pos company. We are not free but you can choose who you want to you for your card acceptance (merchant services)

    I think these kinds of apps are good for the industry they make it easy for new business owners to accept payment and start using a computerized system.

    Sooner or later their turnover will soar, and they will seek better payment services and a more streamlined pos solution that helps them grow their business.

    Martin Webb
  • The Value in Harbortouch

    I would like to make a few comments about the replies to this article. I've been selling Harbortouch for two years now and have signed up over a hundred restaurants and retail stores, from small merchants to 5 star chefs. Harbortouch advertises as free as when you compare everything, the cost of the equipment and everything we are providing to the big names like Micros and Aloha, we are much cheaper. A Micros dealer for example will sell the equipment to you and you then generally must pay for a service/support contract for a monthly or yearly fee. Instead of us charging for the POS, we are simply charging for the service contract, which unlike anyone else, giving you lifetime warranty & tech support. Besides providing all of the hardware, our back office is and reservation system is provided at no charge. Our reservations has a really cool waiting list feature that sends the patron a text message or phone call when their table is ready. Harbortouch is not the #1 system and corporate is pouring millions into R&D to keep making Harbortouch even better.

    Credit card processing - this part of the program is completely negotiable. I tell prospective merchants all the time, if they have a processing deal they want me to match, I generally will. So there shouldn't' be any difference in processing fees, therefore eliminating any concern about you paying more on the processing side.

    The merchant does own the equipment after the 5 year term but you have to keep in mind, we are providing lifetime warranty & tech support. It is not easy giving lifetime warranty a true value as if the system breaks 4, 5 or 6 years later, we must fix or replace it. Which could mean we are investing thousands all over again! If you didn't have the warranty, you would be paying for it.

    Please feel free to contact me with any questions. My name is Curtis and you can reach me at www.harbortouchs.com

    They are preying upon the fact that you are already paying too much for credit cards- so they will surely take your deal and then collect all that money plus charge you a monthly fee for "free POS" -- find yourself a company that will give you a fair deal & simply lower your rate
    • got a free pos

      And paying rate less than my old company 1st data per month in fees.

    There is another company that offers a cost comparison of the Free POS model. Check out www.freetouchpos.com You can get a Free POS system without getting hammered with fees and costs that you were not expecting on the backside. If you compare you can actually save alot of money.
  • They are a scam

    We received ( free ) harbortouch pos system 6 months ago. Its suppose to be free, it isn't, they make you sign a five year contract. Yes, most of the upfront costs are waived. But if you want extra features, which are really basic things that are necessary, they charge you extra.
    But that's besides the point. They put my personal cell phone number on every receipt. Now they refuse to change it. Its annoying that you can't customize your receipt yourself. But worse that they won't change it either. They are violating my privacy.
    They also configured the system with the wrong sales tax information into it. and now they won't change that either.
    Their customer service is non-existent. Its criminal. That is what you get with bargain basement organizations.
  • Update Your POS System


    I believe I responded to this message you posted elsewhere. This information is easily updated and Harbortouch has no reason to not change it for you, it's very simple. The reason why your cell phone number may show up on your receipt is you used that number as the business phone number when you signed up (maybe you didn't have a number assigned yet for the store?). You simply need to update your business phone number with Harbortouch and have technical support update the POS. You can call them at 800-632-1888 option 2 or email service at harbortouch dot c o m. Email is a better form for non urgent issues. Include your business name, MID and best contact number asking them to reach out to you. Be sure to explain what it is you need.

    The sales tax information can also be easily updated as well. Technical support can fix this too. This is something they would be more than happy to.

    You may also reach out to your sales agent for any other assistance or to step in if needed. That is what they are there for, to ensure you are always satisfied! Harbortouch can advise you who your sales agent is if you don't know it.

    Curtis Stevens
    Harbortouch Sales Agent
  • Long term review of pos system

    Earlier this year, I was checking out a bunch of reviews for a few different POS systems on the market and companies for my bakery and restaurant business I run with my husband. We eventually went with Harbortouch. I wanted to write a review to share my experience with this company and their product and their pros and cons. Strengths and shortcomings.

    We went with this company because after checking out agreements, quotes and in-person demonstrations of the systems from a number of POS companies.

    Harbortouch matched the lowest rates I got from other credit card processing companies so that wasn't a concern from me and I was able to get my rates locked in.

    As for the POS system quotes and agreements. The quotes varied widely from free to 13k to 22K. I was originally shocked. I asked the company that gave me a 22k quote how theirs cost so much and how other companies were able to offer it for free. I was not able to get a good answer and felt like I was being lied to and they wouldn't come down on their price either. After seeing live in-person demonstrations of the systems, I couldn't and didn't feel the more expensive options were superior, in fact I actually thought they were not as easy to use and would require a ton of time training on which they also charge a fee for after the initial training. All the agreements had some sort of multi-year contract with termination fees and all of them have monthly and quarterly fees around the same range. But Micros, Aloha and few others I got had up front costs in the 10s of thousands for the 3 systems I needed. Harbortouch didn't have those up front costs and I had to do what made sense to me and I just couldn't justify spending that kind of money up front when I didn't see any clear advantage.

    I had sales reps bring out their systems to us from each company and do a demonstration of their offerings. Harbortouch's hardware looked very impressive. And now it looks amazing on my counters. It was new and had a modern design to them. Looked like my Apple iMac, made of metal and silver. All the others were black and plastic and looked ancient.

    As for the software, This was the main reason we went with Harbortouch, not factoring in costs or anything, their software looked the most modern and easy to use and intuitive. I just got it immediately. I feel this software helps me stay in business. I am able to run my business faster and better and get the reporting I need to see how it is running.

    The only real difference I saw was that Harbortouch had a 5 year agreement while the others had only 3 year agreements but Harbortouch came with lifetime warranty and replacement, where as the others would have cost me 4k to 6k or more again later if I needed to get a replacement unit out of warranty. They also do free software updates where I noticed there were service fee charges with the other vendors.

    The reason why I came back to write the review was my business, I realized we needed 5 systems rather than 3 after a few months, and worked with my sales rep to get 2 more free systems for my bakery restaurant. So I am very pleased so far with the POS system and also their service. I will say that trying to get in touch with them took 15 to 20 minutes when I first signed up with them back in March of this year but now when I call it is under 1 to 2 minutes now.
  • Got my free harbor touch pos system.

    Let's see how it goes. So far so good. Had it for a week and already notice a giant difference between how we were doing things below. We actually look like we know what we are doing now at our restaurant. LOl
  • Heather Clancy, are you working for Harbortouch?

    Harbortouch charges 1) a monthly fee, 2) quarterly fee, and 3) high merchant account processing fees. It is the most expensive free POS system and Harbortouch agents are trained to lie about everything. Look at this from Complaintsboard.com about HT

    Straight from the Harbortouch Contract: They can raise the fee as they like:
    Paragraph 4.3 Adjustments: Harbortouch may adjust the monthly service charges in Exhibit A upon thirty (30) days written notice in accordance with the provisions of Section 10.6 hereof.

    If it is free, how can the fees change?
    • Fees are Fixed


      Harbortouch is all inclusive, 1 company instead of 2 or 3 (POS, Credit Cards, etc). You just pay for lifetime warranty & tech support, which no one else offers. How can you claim we have high merchant account fees? Just like any other business, processing fees are negotiable, just like with all processors. You are simply getting VALUE from us than other processors for what you pay them. The more money we make you, the faster we recoup our investment in you. Other processors have no invested interest in your success, they simply process your data, nothing more. We are delivering something that will make you money and that's our focus.

      The POS fees are fixed for the term and the service agreement was amended sometime last year. Please check your facts before sharing false info. See:

      10.5 Amendments: This Agreement may be amended by Harbortouch, its affiliates, or assigns, upon thirty (30) days written notice. Merchant's continued use of the Equipment shall be acceptance of such amended terms. NOTWITHSTANDING THE FOREGOING, HARBORTOUCH SHALL NOT RAISE THE MONTHLY SERVICE FEE DURING THE INITIAL TERM except for the collection of taxes as set forth in Section 5.4 or as a result of a change in any laws, regulations, Association rules, or other prescribed directives which impact the costs associated with this Agreement.

      Curtis Stevens
      Harbortouch Independent Sales Agent
  • Finally: Class Action Lawsuit Against Harbor Touch

    Chimicles & Tikellis is investigating a class action case on behalf of merchants against United Bank Card and HarborTouch for excessive fees and overcharges. If you are or have been a customer of United Bank Card or HarborTouch, please contact them @ 361 West Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, PA 19041 Phone: 610-642-8500