Complaint / review text:
Unlike Amy (of Glastonbury, CT), I had checked First Data's fine print. However, I got sucked in anyway.
I contacted a specific account executive at First Data on the recommendation of one of the founders of Superware, the creators of SuperManager, which is designed to simplify the handling of multiple orders placed at a storefront.
The person he recommended was charming. However, the application process was slow, so I looked elsewhere while I waited. I found one that had no cancellation penalty and no application fee, following which I sent an email (on Friday, July 14,2006) to the First Data contact, containing the following (paragraph breaks removed):
"For several reasons, I'd like you to suspend all activity on my application. They include the term of the agreement (three years) and the penalty for early termination. I had to dig through the guide document to find the term — something I don't remember you telling me about. The main reason, though, is that this process seems to be going on forever and I can't wait any longer, so I've decided to work with another (highly recommended) merchant account provider (who happens to support the FDMS Nashville Platform too). They guarantee quick approval and no initiation fees. Thanks for your efforts and please understand that, although I enjoyed talking to you on the phone, I'm now somewhat unimpressed with First Data as a whole."
I received an immediate reply (first thing on Monday, July 17), with the following terse message:
"Your application was approved on Friday. Please advise."
As it happened, time was of the essence (or so I thought at the time), so like a fool, I wrote back and said to go ahead. Obviously I should have known better. My Yahoo store was set up to sell a book I had just published. Navely, I thought having the endorsements of three very well-known people on the back cover would guarantee large sales, so the $500 penalty seemed inconsequential at the time. I wanted to provide a direct way for people to use the major credit cards, rather than go through the PayPal process (which I provided too). I thought, at the time, that it was necessary to open a PayPal account in order to use their checkout procedure to charge to a credit card (it may have been, at the time—it's not now).
In spite of the immense popularity of my book with those who actually bought it, sales have been terrible and I've set up the PayPal checkout procedure at the site I set up to publicize it (bushopedia.com). Having done that and having tested it, I've now closed my store to cut my losses. Now, I suddenly realize that my losses are about to increase, this month, by the $500 amount of the First Data penalty. (I haven't cancelled yet, as I have to put the funds in my linked bank account first.)
My complaint about First Data isn't that they didn't disclose the term (3 years) and the penalty, but that they weren't up front about it in my phone conversations with them or in any of their email messages. (Aren't there consumer protection laws that require them to do that?) The forms I signed referred to their "Pro Guide" document, but in very small print (which Amy possibly overlooked). A worse complaint is that their reply to my attempt to cancel said that my application had been approved on the very day I sent the message.in retrospect, that appears to be a high-pressure closing ploy.
A final note: The address I've provided for First Data is simply copied from Amy's report. My contact was in Coral Gables, FL, which I only knew from looking up the area code and prefix of their fax number. I've been unable to find an address on any of the documents they sent me (of which I returned the required signed copies by fax).
We live and learn.