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Electronic Payment Systems LLC, a Denver-based ISO, owns a toll-free number used by approximately 515,000 merchants processing with TSYS Acquiring Solutions, a federal judge ruled last month.

The dedicated number gives EPS the option to move its merchants to another processor. EPS has approximately 56,000 merchants.

The dispute between EPS and TSYS Acquiring, a unit of Columbus, Ga.-based Total System Services Inc., dates to 2005, when EPS migrated to the TSYS processing platform following the 2005 breach of CardSystems Solutions.

During that migration, EPS asked for a dedicated toll-free
number for its merchants. But when the deal with TSYS went sour because of a pricing dispute, EPS wanted to retain the toll-free number. TSYS contested that and filed suit in May in the U.S. District Court of Arizona. Judge David G. Campbell ruled Nov. 9 that EPS was entitled to keep the number.

TSYS would not comment on litigation.

EPS, however, is wasting no time in trying to get the number back. Tom McCann, an EPS partner, sent a letter to TSYS Nov. 10 giving the company 90 days to revert the number to solely EPS’s use.

“I sent them a demand for payment until they move the number,” McCann tells ISO&Agent Weekly. “We will ask the court for the names and addresses of their merchants and start billing them for using our number until TSYS converts them.”

The CardSystems experience taught EPS that it needed a telephone number it could shift to a different processor, McCann says. “They have to clean this up.”

TSYS could face a large expense in communicating to merchants not in the EPS portfolio that they would have to use a new number to call TSYS.

Most EPS merchants continue to process with TSYS, something McCann says will continue at least until the toll-free number issue is resolved.

“We can’t freely negotiate with anybody without this 800 number,” McCann says.

In 2009, an arbitrator found that TSYS violated the Arizona Consumer Fraud Protection Act following the EPS migration to TSYS by not providing a copy of the transaction pricing and failing to disclose some merchant fees. TSYS already has paid EPS $2.6 million in that case, McCann says.

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