First Data Global Leasing (FDGL) Review

Pros

  • Full line of Clover terminals and POS systems

Cons

  • Noncancelable leasing contract
  • Total payments greatly exceed the value of equipment
  • Contract terms up to four years
  • Early termination requires paying out all remaining months of the lease
  • Poor customer service and support

First Data Global Leasing Overview

First Data Global Leasing (FDGL) is the leasing division of mammoth processor First Data (now Fiserv), the largest merchant services provider in the United States. Between the recent Fiserv/First Data merger and the company’s poor public reputation, FDGL has recently gone into full stealth mode. Its old website has been taken down, and little public information about the company is available online.

As you might guess from its name, FDGL supplies leased credit card processing machines for Fiserv and its vast network of ISOs and resellers. This includes the very popular Clover line of POS systems and terminals. The promise of no upfront cost and low monthly lease payments can be very tempting for small business owners. However, we’ve found time and time again that leasing your equipment is much more expensive in the long run than simply buying your equipment outright.

With terrible leasing terms, shady sales tactics, and practically nonexistent customer support, First Data Global Leasing earns an overall score of 1 out of 5 stars — the lowest score we can award. If you’re in the market for a Clover device or are working with Fiserv (or, more likely, one of its numerous resellers), we strongly urge you to purchase your hardware outright rather than agree to a lease.

FDGL Products & Services

Because it’s a leasing company and not a full-service merchant services provider, First Data Global Leasing only offers processing hardware for retail merchants and only through a leasing arrangement. Unfortunately, you cannot purchase your equipment outright through FDGL.

Here’s an overview of the products available through First Data Global Leasing:

  • Credit Card Terminals: FDGL primarily leases the Clover line of products. These devices can accept magstripe, EMV, and NFC-based payment methods (including Apple Pay). The Clover Mini bridges the gap between a traditional countertop terminal and a full point of sale (POS) system, offering a color touchscreen in a smaller form factor than a full-sized system. Clover Mini retails typically for around $500, plus an additional $10 monthly fee. The Clover Flex is more like a traditional terminal in size and features, but it’s also completely wireless. It can connect to your processor’s network via either Wi-Fi or LTE (the latter will require a monthly data plan). There’s also the Fiserv FD-150, a more traditional terminal that’s not part of the Clover family. It can be purchased outright for $295 from Dharma Merchant Services, a highly-rated Fiserv reseller.
  • Point Of Sale (POS) Systems: FDGL leases the Clover Station, Clover’s flagship POS system. Prices vary depending on which accessories you add to your setup but expect to pay around $1,000 for the basic unit and an additional $59 per month fee.
  • Mobile Processing: Fiserv uses its proprietary Clover Go system for mobile processing. In addition to a free app, you’ll need the Clover Go Basic Reader (which uses a headphone jack to connect to your smartphone) or the Clover Go Contactless (which uses Bluetooth). Note that these units are usually not leased due to their relatively low prices. The Basic Reader runs around $100, while the Contactless model costs about $150.

First Data Global Leasing Fees & Rates

While FDGL’s prices may not be fair, they are simple. You’ll pay a monthly lease fee for every terminal you lease, and that’s it. There’s no down payment required, and you won’t be charged any annual fees for insurance, equipment upgrades, etc. FDGL doesn’t provide terminal insurance but instead requires you to purchase it on your own.

Monthly leasing fees vary depending on the equipment being leased but will always add up to far more than the cost to purchase your hardware outright over the course of a three-to-four-year leasing contract.

Rest assured that you won’t save money overall by leasing — despite what your sales agent may tell you. With completely noncancelable contracts, you’re on the hook for every monthly payment over your lease term from the moment you sign up. These payments will total up to at least twice the reasonable purchase price of your terminal — sometimes as much as seven or eight times the retail price.

Sales & Advertising Transparency

First Data Global Leasing no longer has a website of its own. However, Fairmed, which appears to be a sub-ISO of CardConnect, itself a major Fiserv reseller, includes a page about FDGL on its website. This page seems very dated and contains little more than a summary of the dubious claims often made by sales agents on the “benefits” of leasing processing hardware.

FDGL primarily markets its products through Fiserv’s network of sales agents, including those who work for the company directly and those working for resellers. These include a mix of both salaried employees and independent sales agents. We can’t say with certainty that sales agents receive any residuals from selling an FDGL lease. Still, it seems apparent that at least some of them do, given the numerous reports from merchants alleging that their sales agent pressured them into signing up for an equipment lease.

As a division of Fiserv, FDGL doesn’t have its own independent social media accounts. In fact, it seems to go out of its way to maintain as low a public profile as possible.

Contract Length & Early Termination Fee

FDGL’s leasing contracts are far and away the worst aspect of its service, and you could unnecessarily spend thousands of dollars if you get lured into signing one of these agreements.

Because FDGL is a division of Fiserv, you usually won’t have a separate contract for your equipment lease. Instead, the lease agreement is included as part of your merchant account Terms and Conditions, making it very easy to miss if you don’t learn how to review your merchant agreement thoroughly before signing up for an account.

The worst aspect of these agreements is that they’re noncancelable, meaning completely and utterly noncancelable under any circumstances. You cannot simply return the equipment and get out of paying the lease payments. If you close your merchant account and switch to a different provider, you will still have to pay the remaining lease payments. If you sell your business, you (or the new owner) will still have to pay the remaining lease payments. You will still have to pay the remaining lease payments if you close your business altogether. Even if you die, your estate will be on the hook for the remaining lease payments (and yes, we’ve seen reports of this happening to people).

So how long are these leases? Fiserv and its resellers have some flexibility in determining the lease term, but it usually ranges from a minimum of 24 months up to a maximum of 48 months. Unfortunately, merchant accounts through Fiserv typically come with four-year initial terms, so most sales agents will set the lease term at four years also. While this might result in a lower monthly lease payment, the total cost over the life of the lease will be much higher than if you had simply purchased the equipment outright.

Can it get any worse? Yes, it can! At the end of your lease, you still won’t own your equipment. That’s right; this is a lease, not a rent-to-own arrangement. Once you’ve made your final payment under the lease agreement, you have a choice of either returning the equipment or continuing to make the same lease payments on a month-to-month basis.

Customer Service & Technical Support

As of this writing, a single telephone number is the only option for customer support from FDGL. There’s no website, no email, and no live chat. This alone should tell you how little importance the company places on customer service.

Fortunately, Fiserv and Clover provide extensive documentation on their websites to help you diagnose and (hopefully) resolve technical issues on your own. It should be no surprise that poor customer support is a frequent complaint from merchants who have leased equipment through FDGL.

A PDF list of frequently asked questions used to be available on the company’s website, but it’s no longer available. Although the information it contains is most likely outdated, we’re keeping it here for reference:

First Data Global Leasing Reviews, Complaints, & Common Problems

Negative FDGL Reviews & Complaints

FDGL’s status as a division of Fiserv means that it doesn’t have its own separate BBB profile. Instead, you’ll have to look at First Data’s profile for some insights. Despite having 620 complaints covering a wide range of issues within the last three years and not being accredited by the BBB, the company still has an A- rating. (Note that Fiserv also has a separate profile under its own name.) Complaints relating to FDGL’s leasing practices are quite easy to find and represent a disproportionately high percentage of the total complaint volume.

Unfortunately, the company’s responses to complaints are very generic, and it doesn’t appear to offer any relief to merchants trying to cancel their lease without having to buy out the remaining months of their agreement. FDGL appears to have only one policy in this regard: The lease agreement terms will be strictly enforced in all cases.

Ripoff Report has an additional 106 complaints filed against FDGL, including several merchants alleging that FDGL’s sales agents forged their signatures on leasing contract documents. At ConsumerAffairs.com, you’ll find 414 reviews from merchants abused by this company, with an average rating of 1.1 out of 5 stars.

Positive FDGL Reviews & Testimonials

Quite simply, we were unable to find any positive feedback on FDGL from merchants. Every mention of the company on the internet is overwhelmingly negative.

Does this mean that every merchant who’s ever dealt with the company has had a bad experience? Not necessarily. People are far more likely to complain than they are to praise, and we can only assume that there are at least some merchants out there who are happy with the Fiserv and Clover products they lease through FDGL. However, they probably aren’t aware (or just don’t care) that they’re actually being ripped off for hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars over the life of their lease.

Final Verdict On First Data Global Leasing

First Data Global Leasing has the dubious distinction of being among our rogue’s gallery of the processing industry’s worst credit card terminal leasing companies. While it offers high-quality products in the Clover line of terminals and POS systems, it’s disheartening that an industry leader such as Fiserv would condone such awful business practices by a subsidiary.

Leasing processing equipment was far more common a few decades ago when credit card machines were more expensive than they are today. Now that terminals have come down so much in price (while adding far more powerful features), it simply doesn’t make sense to lease them. In fact, many merchant services providers no longer offer equipment leases at all, either selling them directly or including a “free” terminal with your merchant account. While free terminal offers only let you borrow a terminal as long as you keep your account open, they’re still a better deal than leasing.

Some companies, especially in Canada, are now offering terminal rentals as an alternative to either leasing or buying your equipment. You still pay a monthly fee but aren’t trapped in a long-term contract and can return the equipment at any time without penalty. Other companies, such as CDGcommerce, provide a “free” terminal in exchange for a $79 annual insurance fee. Compare this with FDGL, which doesn’t offer any insurance or warranty but insists that you purchase insurance for your equipment separately.

Overall, First Data Global Leasing earns a score of 1 out of 5 stars. Although the terminals and POS systems it provides are all high-quality products, you’re much better off buying them than leasing them. Don’t let an aggressive sales agent convince you that it’s more economical to lease. Do the math! It’s pretty simple to figure out how much a long-term lease will cost you and compare it to the retail price of the equipment you need.

Another thing to consider is that Fiserv has a very extensive network of resellers, not all of which disclose their relationship with either Fiserv or FDGL. If you’d like to use Clover’s equipment or take advantage of the services that a large processor can provide, take a look at one of our favorite providers, Dharma Merchant Services. Dharma utilizes Fiserv (and other processors) but doesn’t partner with FDGL. In fact, it doesn’t lease terminals at all. It will either sell you a terminal at a fair price or re-program your existing equipment for a reasonable fee, if possible.

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