First let me say that GoDaddy is generally a good company. If they make a mistake, they usually fix it pretty quickly and it’s the only domain and hosting company in the United States that mans their customer service lines with Americans 24/7. This post is less about GoDaddy and more about their E-Commerce Website partner, FirstData aka Chase PaymenTech.
Right now, GoDaddy has a half off special for their e-commerce websites called Quick Shopping Cart. It sounds too good to be true and it is. If you look at the special, it says “free merchant account”. That’s not true. They waive the application fee for you to apply for a merchant account with a disreputable company named FirstData that operates out of Atlanta, Georgia and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Initially, when you go through GoDaddy, they route you through their subsidiary Chase PaymenTech, but the company is actually FirstData.
Google this number, 954-851-7000, to read some of the actual reviews about FirstData written by the people they’ve scammed. Once you’ve applied for a merchant account with FirstData through GoDaddy, you begin getting phone calls from these people. They ask for copies of your driver’s license, utility bills, lease or mortgage, bank statements, income tax returns, and more, frighteningly private stuff they have no business asking for. This is a merchant account, not a bank loan. People get credit cards all the time, so we know it’s easy. You usually know instantly. This is different, however, because they’re charging people for four years up front and not approving them for a merchant account. One of their representatives, Jawana Irby (770-618-6707), even stated that she’d seen some pretty scary demands from FirstData before they would open accounts for people, like asking for very large security deposits before they’d open the merchant account. People, this is a scam. This is not normal. Normal banks, normal merchant accounts, don’t do this. Merchant accounts take payments from your customers and give that money to you. They are not personally giving you anything. If an employee tells you something scary, that’s only a small portion of the really bad things about the company. Run, don’t walk, away from that company.
Here is the scam they most prevalently use, confirmed by several customers and at least one FirstData employee, Jawana Irby. You buy one of GoDaddy’s Quick Shopping Cart packages and go through a series of pages that sets up your merchant account, or so you think. It doesn’t. You’re supposed to be immediately approved. You’re not. You then get an email stating you will hear back from them within 24 hours. You don’t. So you call and ask what’s the hold up. They’ll tell you to call back in a week. Then they begin asking for very personal information as described above. Their goal is to suspend your account so they can charge you for the full contract fee without ever giving you a merchant account. They make unreasonable demands for paperwork you can’t or won’t provide and use this as an excuse to suspend your account. Then you learn about the fine print, they charge you for four years, not one month. And the charge is pretty hefty. Now you have an expensive site you paid for with no merchant account. The only other merchant accounts GoDaddy accepts are expensive, so you’re left in the lurch.
Not such a bargain anymore, is it?
If you’re trying to set up an e-commerce website, try a different merchant account company. I would not recommend GoDaddy’s e-commerce website builders. The merchant account partners they’re currently using are either disreputable or much too expensive. The sites themselves are poorly written and don’t rank in search engines without paid advertising.
Thank you to the families who reported this and thank you especially to the ones who sat on the phone with us and explained what had happened. Don’t forget to close the bank accounts attached to that FirstData merchant account application and move your money somewhere FirstData can’t get it. GoDaddy’s terms are stated in the offer and they don’t include four years prepaid merchant services. Here’s to hoping that GoDaddy listens to their customers and bans FirstData from their e-commerce sites.
Update September 25, 2014:
We received several responses to this post, all negative experiences with GoDaddy and their new “terms of acceptance”. They are no longer honoring their “satisfaction guaranteed” claim and now have fine print that takes your money and gives no guarantee at all. So please shop somewhere else. GoDaddy used to be a reputable company. Not anymore. For more information about GoDaddy’s new “terms of service” which obliterates their satisfaction guarantee, write to this address:
Office of the CEO – GoDaddy
14455 N. Hayden Rd. Suite 226
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
(480) 505-8828 Phone
(480) 275-3975 Fax