Beware of Clover Station POS Scams

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There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding First Data’s new tablet-based POS products: Clover Station, Clover Mini, and Clover Mobile. Bank of America Merchant Services is also heavily promoting these products. But unlike iPad POS systems, you can’t just download the app and test out the POS. You have to buy the complete hardware package to see Clover in action. This has led many merchants to eBay, looking for a deal. Unfortunately, it has also led predatory merchant services companies to sell business owners more than they bargained for.

What’s the Deal With Clover POS?

Since the switch to chip cards officially arrived in October 2015, many merchant services companies have developed new hardware solutions with integrated EMV-compliant chip card readers, as well as NFC readers for acceptance of contactless payments via digital wallets like Apple Pay and Android Pay. We recently reviewed some of the new EMV and NFC card readers on the market, which you can read about and compare here.

So it’s no surprise that First Data, one of the biggest processors in the US, has put together an attractive, EMV-compliant hardware and software bundle. Unlike standard tablet or smartphone POS software, which uses interchangeable hardware, to use Clover you must buy one of First Data’s proprietary tablet, stand, and card reader bundles. This requires an initial hardware investment of about $500 to $1,000 per station, and that hardware is useless to you if you decide to switch systems.

Still, it’s an alluring and sleek suite of products, with the Clover Mini representing competition for the similar reader and software combo offered by Poynt – another new-wave POS hardware developer. But the fact remains, it’s fairly expensive and business owners are looking for a way to get their hands on it at a discount.

Merchant Services Scams on eBay

Where do you go to buy things at a discount? eBay, of course. While researching the Clover Station POS system, I poked around eBay to see if any systems were for sale. Initially, I was impressed to see so many packages at reasonable prices. And, indeed, some of them were legitimate lightly used or new systems up for sale. Many of the listings, however, were actually for merchant account contracts, not just the hardware.

Unless you read the descriptions carefully, you might not even notice that you must sign a processing agreement in order to receive the machine. Signing on with a merchant services provider is not something to be taken lightly. These contracts can end up costing you thousands of dollars in overpayments and termination fees, as well as countless hours of headaches. Certainly, eBay is not the best forum for evaluating these services and contract terms.

What’s happening here is that resellers of First Data’s payment processing services (like Ignite Payments, a subsidiary brand of First Data Merchant Services with many independent offices and agents) are selling merchant accounts under the guise of Clover Station POS hardware. They get you to agree to the purchase of the machine, and then pressure you into signing the contract in order to receive the machine.

This practice is deceptive and unethical. Yes, in the listing they do explain that the processing contract is needed before you receive the machine, but the fact remains that the practice is predatory and not in the best interest of the merchant, who had ought to sign up for payment processing services based on the merits of the provider, not an eBay item description.

The Best Place to Buy a Clover POS System

The best way to purchase Clover POS is to sign up for a merchant account with a reputable reseller that you research in-depth. Don’t just sign up with a company because they have the lowest equipment price on eBay. Those credit card processors are just trying to trick you into signing up for a merchant account without having carefully considered your contract terms, processing fees, customer support, and other important factors.

One of our favorite providers that can set up First Data accounts with Clover POS systems is Payment Depot. This company provides transparent and fair pricing, alongside exceptional customer support, and is among our favorite providers for any system.

When you purchase a Clover Station on eBay, you are likely purchasing more than just the hardware: You are signing up for a long-term processing contract with a company you know nothing about, that is almost definitely going to include a hefty early termination fee. In my opinion, it’s a scam and a ripoff. Don’t do it.

It might be worth considering your other POS options before deciding to go forward with Clover. Check out our POS software comparison chart and our guided matching system to find other good options for your business to compare against Clover.

Shannon Vissers

Shannon Vissers

Shannon is a freelance writer and editor based in San Diego, CA. Shannon kind of wants an iPhone 7, but she's not really ready to lose the headphone jack.
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27 Comments

    chris

    Hello People,

    A sales person lured my Wife to sign a contract for Clover, we had a hair salon that we had to close down. When we called to cancel and return equipment all they said is that we can not return or cancel and that we still have to make monthly installments which is ridiculous.
    This phrase is whats on the contract .
    “You cannot cancel this lease durning the lease term for any reason , you do not have a free trial period , you duty to make your monthly lease payment is absolute , unconditional and irrevocable and is not subject to any offset deduction defense or counter claim.”

    Can someone advice how to exit this shit hole scam , ASAP ?

    Randy

    I currently had a vape shop that I closed down. I had purchased the clover mini and register system. Since I was still in my contract of course I owe a hefty sum. The machine is still practically still brand new. If I give it back to first data they will not take any money off my bill. So can’t I just sell it and recupe some money to help pay them off? I know that it has to be used with Wells Fargo as that’s who the merchant was through. I’m definitely not looking into scamming anyone, just want to know my options now that I got roped.. Hope this helps in answering thank you.

    David Edward Barton

    I am currently opening a new vape shop. I may be interested in using that equipment so long as wells fargo merchant services will provide services for me to sell both Eliquid and Hardware online through the clover online store app. May merchants will not do vape products through eccomerce( I am finding out) and only some will premit vape hardware but very few do both.

    feel free to reply back to this. I will contact wells fargo now to see where they fall into this group.

    Marva Marrow

    I have a system used no more than 3 months, and includes a mini Clover. All boxed up in original boxes and perfect condition, since my restaurant closed. Would so LOVE to sell it! Based on the comments though, not sure this is possible? The contract was with First Data.

    David Eberting

    Hi Randy,
    “I currently had a vape shop that I closed down. I had purchased the clover mini and register system. Since I was still in my contract of course I owe a hefty sum. The machine is still practically still brand new. If I give it back to first data they will not take any money off my bill. So can’t I just sell it and recupe some money to help pay them off? I know that it has to be used with Wells Fargo as that’s who the merchant was through. I’m definitely not looking into scamming anyone, just want to know my options now that I got roped.. Hope this helps in answering thank you.”

    I worked for First Data and was on the Clover Development sales team and worked closely with the Beta sales team (just so you know I kind of know what I’m talking about). If you were to resell it there are a few items to be careful of.
    1. If you leased it DO NOT SELL IT. If it’s a lease you do not own it and you will still have to pay the monthly lease until the end of it’s term THEN you will have to pay for it if you can’t return it at the end of the lease.
    2. If you sell it the person you are selling it to is going to be roped into using Wells Fargo for their processing. (I wouldn’t to that to my worst enemy even if their business was next to mine).
    3. There is no system/procedure in place for you to wipe it before selling it. This means if your merchant account is still open and you send that mini off to the buyer it’s still attached to your merchant account. Most likely any fraud would be caught by First Data (That’s who Wells uses for their processing) but there is a risk of the person pulling out their credit card and doing a refund onto it. That money would come out of your account and be put onto the buyers card. (small risk but I’ve seen it happen similar to this.)

    Sebastian

    If you have the option to use a different service do so before you regret it. I was singed up for them as a complementary (obligatory) package of my checking account. Their service is unreliable. My business had to start using PayPal (I’m not getting paid to mention them). Clover services was masked underneath the bank’s “Merchant Service”. Once their service proved useless I tried closing the account to find out there is a $500 early termination fee or a monthly fee that I need to pay until the 3 year contract ended. The contract went on as the back account forced me to maintain it. Two month before the 3 year contract ended they charge the $500 early termination fee. Now I’m stuck in their collection department which is efficient unlike their customer service. Beware of the Clover scam.

    Lori

    I am being told that these systems can work with our micros pos system for emv credit card processing. Has anyone else tried this? Were there any glitches??

    Imran

    hello I am using clover, but i am facing two different problem
    1 – how one can get the employees weekly report and their working hrs and their tips
    2- Where can i see the cancelled tickets as i doubt waiters are taking money and they cancelled the tickets
    3- how can we see at the end of the week what we have earn, how much we have paid and how much tax we need to pay back?

    please answer the above questions

    Thanks

    Marva Marrow

    I had a restaurant that closed and I declared bankruptcy. I have a barely used complete Clover system including a mini-Clover – all elements and in perfect condition. It was discharged in the bankruptcy and I am not using it, so can I sell it and can someone else use it with their own merchant services account? The one I have was through First Data.

    Randy Hayashi

    Marva,
    You could sell it, BUT you would need to tell whoever buys it that they can ONLY process with whoever you were previously using. No other sales organization can reprogram it. Including the phone number of your processor with the Clover would be the best way to do it. It is a tough call though because whoever buys the Clover is at the mercy of the processor and has no leverage when negotiating rates.
    This is one of the major downfalls of Clover in my opinion.

    Marva Marrow

    This was a VERY helpful response – the only one with real info so far!! Truly appreciate this!! Since I retained the Clover through my bankruptcy, which was discharged, I would really like to sell it since it is is pristine condition and barely used.

    OSCAR

    Trust me on this one, from someone who fall twice for the lease of the equipment. DO NOT LEASE THE EQUIPMENT. Make sure you find money to buy it and have not lease at all. Borrow the money from someone or do whatever it takes because if you lease, you are entering in a contract that they called “uncancellable” (which I might be wrong but that word is not permitted in any contract) and the buyout of the contract is prohibited. I hope this helps.

    Randy Hayashi

    Oscar is right. NEVER lease equipment. We have seen people pay thousands of dollars for a terminal that could have been purchased brand new for less than $300. You are always better off buying the terminal because if a processor gives you one for free they will most likely be overcharging you on the processing or locking you into a long term contract in order to make up the cost over time.

    Randy Hayashi

    Tom,
    This is a great summary of the issues/problems with Clover. We receive many calls from merchants who bought Clover through ebay or BofA and unfortunately we are unable to reprogram it. The only option is to buy another machine or stay with the original processor. Clover has a lot of potential but as it stands now, it is probably the most polarizing piece of equipment that we sell. Merchants either love it or they hate it. Due to the reprogram limitations and the fact that you can’t trial it before you buy it, researching to see if it is the best POS system for you is very important. Our sales team will help answer questions about Clover POS system and can also talk about some of the alternatives. We suggest reading the POS reviews on Merchant Maverick to look into the numerous Tablet based POS systems as well as Clover. I hate hearing about merchants who are stuck with machines that cannot be reprogrammed. I hope people read this article before buying a Clover online.

    Lisa Limburg

    hi i run a bridal store from home and i also do lots of local events in my area and was wanting to get the clover that i can take anywhere with me like a ipad and run of the wifi or my hot spot and wanted the clover that does not need to be plug in at all time and to be able to run off a battery, my friend has the mini and it needs to be plug in at all times when u plug it in and unplug it shuts down, and she not happy with it and wants to switch to the mobil clover where u can full charge it and then to be able to take it anywhere to accept credit cards and set up at the events and local shows without no power and to be able to run off the hot spot or the wifi and where i can run off the hot spot for my phone and i meet lots of customers around my house and would like to take the clover with to process the payments on the go as well yes i know they have that to go unit by clover but i like the clover to be able to take on the go so my friend has her for about 4 days is she able to switch to the the clover that does not need to be plug in at all time.

    randy hayashi

    Lisa,
    You would most likely want to look at the Clover Mobile or the Clover Go. The Clover Mobile is available with the full POS system software (Additional $29/mo) as well as a large screen. It comes with a base stand that charges it as well as a wireless printer that can be clipped to your belt or carried. This machine is popular with pay at the table restaurants and food trucks since it can be taken with you and does not need to be plugged in. The Clover go is a mobile card reader similar to Square. It just plugs into a smartphone or tablet and allows you to process on the go. We also have other non clover options for mobile swiping. If you are wanting a full POS system then Clover Mobile may be a good option for you. If you are just looking to run a few transactions away from your store, you may be better off with a simple card swiper that works with your phone or tablet. Some of the tablet based POS systems may also be an option for you since you will be running off of a hot spot. Keep in mind with Clover Mobile, it cannot be reprogrammed, so you are essentially locked in with whichever processor you choose. This also limits your options if you want to try to resell it one day too. If you are not going to be processing regularly and just have a couple transactions to process from time to time, you may also do well with a simple solution like Square.

    Jewels

    Lisa I have used the Clover Go Mobile device at my home business and outside my home on occasion. It plugs right in your device. It will accept chip cards and you can swipe as well. I liked the reader very sturdy. It will need to be charged after so many swipes through the provided usb cord.

    Jane

    Hi, I am looking at the different types of credit card/pos system for my business. I was wondering about the information that is stored in the pos systems, who has access to them and will it be confidential? We will be relying all our business information on these pos systems and who knows who has access to them from the companies?

    Jordan Nelson

    Hello Jane,

    This is a common concern with cloud-based POS software. You don’t need to worry, because all of your data is completely confidential. It is heavily encrypted and highly secure. Your information is totally safe and private.

    Best,
    Jordan

    RLS

    I purchased (not leasedf) a Clover POS from Bank of America BAMS, and have been running it for 14 months. I now want to switch to Payment Depot. I have been told I must buy a completely new Clover POS (at minimum, the display unit) since the first one cannot be reprogrammed. Is this correct?

    If so, I am planning to backup and then upload existing customer and inventory (item) data, although I believe that transaction data will not be portable. Any advice?

    Jordan Nelson

    RLS,

    Who told you that you would have to buy a completely new system? I doubt this is true, but you should ask Payment Depot to confirm.

    In regards to the business data, I’m not positive how First Data’s reporting/analytics system handles data export, but every system allows the export of data as far as I know. Since you’re just taking data from one First Data system to another, the transition should be pretty simple, but I haven’t tested it personally. You’re going to want to ask First Data about this.

    Best,
    Jordan

    RLS

    Jordan,
    Yes, the folks at Payment Depot did tell us this: BofA has not confirmed (no surprise). But here’s a quote from a review of the Clover POS that I found on another, reputable website:

    “You must order your hardware through your [merchant services] processor…. Worse, however, is your unbreakable marriage to your processor. Hardware is either purchased immediately for $999+, or spread out over the course of an ironclad, frustrating-to-escape-at-best lease.

    And what if you do leave? You hate your processing rates, and you’ve paid off your hardware — so you pay the early termination fee and go. Clover hopes you enjoy your thousand-dollar paperweight.
    That’s right: your hardware bundle works ONLY for the processor from whom you purchased.

    Pretending, for a moment, that you love Clover and merely seek better pricing from a new First Data ISO, YOU STILL HAVE TO BUY A NEW HARDWARE BUNDLE [caps added]. Your current unit cannot, under any magical circumstances, be reprogrammed…”

    We can’t believe it either!

    RLS

    Update — Just received confirmation from our Bank of America Merchant Services rep:

    “Regarding the Clover station, you are correct. It can only be programmed by Bank of America Merchant Services.”

    It’s pretty clear that most of my sales data will be lost once (if) we move our processing business elsewhere. Our customer files and item and category files are, I assume, available for us to upload to the new unit. These will not, however, attach to past customer purchase information.

    Jose

    I accidentally posted on the wrong clover pos. I think it was the mini/mobile instead of the Clover Station. For that i want to apologize.! I have not yet tried out the mobile but i’m in the process of ordering it.

    Tyler

    I recently purchased a second hand clover station on ebay, from a private seller. I havent seen the equipment yet, but I do know that a menu is currently programmed in it and will have to be deleted or modified for my bar/tavern. I think I just found someone that had the station in their business and most likely got burned. If this is some sort of scam, when will someone request that I sign something? I plan to use my current credit card processor and run the charge through as cash on the clover. Whats not in the register in cash should be the sum of the credit card charges, and a receipt should be in place of the missing cash…This was my only option, as I too was hooked into a credit card machine lease FOR 60 MONTHS!! Yikes…I was upset to find later that the machine costs about $200. THanks

    Valerie Van Herk

    Hi Tom, great article and thanks for including Payment Depot as a reputable place to purchase Clover products! We’re really excited about these new products and what they can do for the modern small business.

    I recently wrote an article comparing the price, features, etc. of the Square Stand and the Clover Station that your readers may find helpful.
    https://paymentdepot.com/square-stand-vs-clover-station/

    Have a great weekend!
    Valerie | Payment Depot

    Tom DeSimone

    Hi Valerie,

    Great article! Thanks for the link.

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