Online Meeting Fatigue – It a real thing

We need to get back to normal

Maybe we need to have everyone make their broomsticks defy the laws of physics and close whatever otherworldly portals they opened. As millions of people stay indoors due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we moved our way of connecting to a virtual world.

During this time of social distancing and self-isolating video conferencing has allowed our lives to adapt. Businesses are having employees check in remotely with their teams, schools have gone digital even our grandparents are participating online.

Who is with me when I say “I am so over this”?

Thank goodness for the people who can cut through the bullshit and find the ridiculousness during these stressful times. The COVID-19 pandemic has given many joke makers and meme creators a plethora of material to turn lemons into lemonade, and online meetings have provided their share of opportunities to provide us with the comedy relief we so desperately need right now. From people being stuck as images of potatoes to intentionally using green screens or dressing up as different characters, these virtual times are redefining business casual in hilarious ways.

As fun as it is to laugh about people who enter our homes accidentally by walking in the background of important meetings in their robes or our children asking for yet another snack, these virtual meetings are causing exhaustion. The fatigue you are feeling from a day of these types of meetings is real. If you are sick of your online workspace, you are not alone.

While technology has been very effective in keeping us connected, there is also a loss of connection, just ask any extrovert. My husband, for example, a business owner/salesperson, a person who is always on-the-go looking to meet or talk to anyone is now forced to stay stationary. While we continue to be on webinars or virtual meetings his superhuman ability to read the room is limited.

Needless to say, in-person all-day meetings are exhausting but there is always a few minutes in between each to stretch or walk to the next conference room, and you were in a physical place with other people where you can see facial expressions, collaborate ideas or feel the energy of the space and read body language. All of that gives us the insight needed on how to move forward. We simply don’t get that from video calls, especially if one of your colleagues or meeting attendees suddenly and “magically” morph themselves into a freaking half human half-cat creature.

With online meetings it is hard to know when to speak – this simple cue is easy enough to pick up in a physical meeting. Some attendees just aren’t forward enough to just “jump in”. In addition, And if we are trying to cram in as many people as possible simply for ease of it all we are taxing ourselves to the limit.

It’s Fight Or Flight

We are hyper-focused on not only navigating this new work environment but all the external things as well. Where are the kids? I hope they don’t interrupt me…again! How do I change the background? How in the world do I share my screen? Shit, what if I’m called on and my mic doesn’t work – I don’t know how to troubleshoot? Crap, my internet is not stable, what the hell do I do now? Why is my freaking cat screaming at me? Crap what did they say? Do I respond or simply smile and nod? What is she talking about? Can this person just shut-up? SERENITY NOW! Dear heavens is that what I really look like, when did I start looking like my mother?

We are physically and mentally over all of this

Our bodies are looking, no screaming, for relief. Not everyone has a home office that actually resembles the office environment. We are hunched over tables, curled up on couches, sitting on beds, porches/patios – heck, if you’re like me you’re in the bathroom hoping to get a moment of silence or a stronger internet connection. Our bodies are sore, eyes hurt and our vision is blurred. Our new work environment certainly does not look like anything we had before. We aren’t stretching our legs in between meetings and we certainly are not following any regular eating habits.

Our eyes are overworked and strained as a result of all the extra screen time we are enduring. Excessive overuse of our computers, smartphones, and tablets suppresses our naturally produced melatonin; this, in turn, affects our ability to fall asleep and enjoy a very peaceful night’s sleep. Instead, we are going to bed sore, restless and our brains still wired. There are some things we can do to relieve the strain, fatigue, and frustration of online life.

It’s important to remind yourself that you are living in your workspace, and that doesn’t give you a chance to unwind during a commute home. You can’t just leave work behind, because that counter where you are prepping dinner is where you had seven Zoom calls and will need to catch up on emails after the kids are in bed. Work is always present, and so is the stress. Stacia D. Kelly, Ph.D. suggests “create a few rituals to help you step away from the work. If you can, get out for a walk, do something creative (that doesn’t involve the computer screen), and remember to look up from your computer/device every 20 minutes or so.”


How To Have Your Business Thrive Even in Tough Times

COVID-19 has effected almost all business

Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 crisis has negatively affected everyone at a personal or professional level. In the past six weeks we have seen less of our loved ones due to the stay-at-home orders, longer lines at the grocery store and the weird obsession with stock piling toilet paper and pop-tarts.

One thing is for certain, we are going through this together. Every business has had to pivot in some way. Restaurants are being creative with curbside pick-up, retail shops have amped up their online presence.

Some things to help your business thrive

How To Have Your Business Thrive During A Crisis by 610 Merchant ServicesWhether you are a one-man (or lady) shop or have a full team, when faced with difficult decisions or situations you could either:

A) Curl up into a fetal position, cower in terror and leave yourself to fate and wait to pick up the pieces of whatever is left of your company after things have stabilized or
B) Roll up your sleeves and get to work.

If your choice is B… Great job!

Getting started is usually the hardest part. Even during the darkest of hours there is always something that can be done to keep your business viable and serving the community. I know you’re wondering how, considering you’ve experienced a significant cash flow crunch – how can you possibly improve your business without cash.

You’ve come to the right place for answers…

We’ve listed several items that have zero cost. Things you can do with just a small investment of time.


Marketing should be one of the largest investments a business makes in its own company. Given the tight budgets nowadays, it’s no surprise that companies are cutting back on their marketing budget. However, cutting back on budget and stopping your marketing efforts are two totally different things. You can easily do some marketing for little or no money at all.

When was the last time you updated and optimized your Google My Business listing? When was your last Instagram, Facebook or Twitter post? Have you hopped on the TikTok bandwagon yet? Have you updated the content on your website or written a blog post lately? When was the last time you loaded a how-to video for your customers on YouTube?

These are all things you can do on your own or have one of your staff do for you. Even better, if you have furloughed some employees, why not see if their willing to pitch in for a small fee.

According to Michael Pollaci, President of Stafford Technologies “…posting on any or all these channels on a regular basis is critical to surviving this crisis. Your customers need to know you’re still there. The best way to do that is to communicate with them.”

Internal Processes

Let’s face it, the way we do business has changed. Never, in our wildest dreams did we think things would go this way and not have a Plan B in place. Now is the perfect time to document or adjust your processes. Alyson Caffrey, Founder & COO of Operations Agency has some very helpful tips.

When starting a process – look at it with the high-level overview of the following:

  • What the process is
  • How does it serve the Company
  • How does it serve the customer

For more helpful resources click here.

Look at expenses

No matter what causes a cash flow issue, any financial crisis is a stressful time and they require added focus and attention to detail. Controlling costs and tightening up spending are the easiest ways for companies to quickly adjust.

Here are a few simple suggestions to help you to make it through.

  • Consolidate your spending and negotiate better pricing. For example, if you direct mail to your customers consider changing your print and mail house services to one vendor.
  • Shop around. If your current supplier is not able or willing to work with you on better pricing their competition will be. Call your vendors competitors and see what new customer deals they are offering. Get vendors to compete for your business.
  • Look at your discretionary expenses. Can you do your job without it? If the answer is yes, pause or cancel your subscription.

Staying in touch with your customers

Even during these stressful and uncertain times, take time to connect with customers. Building honest and authentic relationships during times of trouble can lead to loyal customer relationships.

  • Be transparent about the choices your company is making. Let your customers know what choices you are making during this time.
  • Be real, authentic, and transparent about your efforts to serve your customers as best as you can and let them know how they can support you in return. Loyal customers are your champions.
  • Continue to maintain a strong relationship with your clients whether directly, individually, in newsletters, or social media. Show them you care. More than ever, your customers need to hear from you.

It’s Not All Doom and Gloom

No doubt, across the globe COVID-19 has been extremely damaging to businesses. And although it’s tough, we will get through this. There is always a light at the end. We are strong, we must have courage, stand our ground and push through to continue to make our businesses succeed.


Business Owners Remain Optimistic

Shutdowns and stay-at-home orders have had an impact on the nation’s economy. During the COVID-19 crisis, businesses have been juggling keeping their employees safe, their customers safe and keeping their company running effectively. Many business owners, however, remain optimistic that the measures they are taking today will help them come out of the COVID-19 crisis better and stronger.

Although many companies have had to make the difficult decision to layoff some employees, most employers recently questioned in The Harris Poll and TriNet survey said they were confident that their business could with-stand the short-term if the situation remains as it is right now.

610 Merchant Services Business Remain OptimisticFurther, 96% of those surveyed said they believed their business could make it through at least one month and 92% believed their businesses could survive three months. However, if shutdowns continue and social distancing restrictions do not change within six to twelve months, business owners were less certain of their ability to keep operations running as usual.

Many small businesses are finding proactive ways in dealing with the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 crisis. During the same survey, 78% of business owners said they had made strategic investments in order to keep their businesses running during this crisis and among those, 76% said they believe the investments would pay off once the crisis has ended.

Some of the measures they are taking are:

  • Investing in infrastructure to ensure security while employees work virtually
  • Investing in processes and materials to help them service their customers contact-free
  • Investing in health insurance benefits for laid-off or furloughed employees
  • Paying employees who are not able to work in the hopes of retaining a trained workforce
  • Communication with customers
  • Participating in local community philanthropic opportunities
  • Taking advantage of support from the federal government, including the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

While it is too early to fully understand the severity of the COVID-19 crisis and its long-term effects on businesses, small businesses will continue to invest in their long-term success.

For this research, TriNet teamed with The Harris Poll to conduct an online survey of between 150-200 small business leaders in U.S. companies with 5 to 249 employees between April 3-6, 2020 for the first wave, April 8-10, 2020 for the second wave and April 10-12, 2020 for the third wave. Business leaders were qualified as either owners/partners or C-level executives.

Credit Card Processing

Avoid These Costly Credit Card Processing Mistakes

Whether you want to admit it or not, everyone makes mistakes, even you. Lets face it, we are only human. Learning from our mistakes, and the mistakes of others, is what makes us successful. It is the same with accepting credit card payments. Learning to avoid credit card processing mistakes can add up to big savings. Here are five of the most common and costly credit card processing mistakes businesses make, and how to avoid them:

Key entering card information without getting a manual imprint when a card won’t swipe.

It is a matter of convenience. Customers are lined up at the register and the card reader does not recognize the card you are trying to swipe. Instead of locating the old, manual card swiper to make a manual imprint, you simply key-enter the card information into your Point-of-Sale (POS) system. While this saves time, it also opens you up to fraud and higher processing rates.

Without a card imprint and customer signature, the transaction is subject to a higher processing fee by the card networks. No imprint or customer signature also offers little defense should a chargeback result. (Fraudsters alter cards so they will not swipe, charge a large amount, then initiate a chargeback if the unsuspecting merchant does not make an imprint and get a signature. In most cases, the merchant loses the sale and merchandise.)

The best way to avoid this situation is to make a manual imprint and get a signature. Also be sure to follow all POS prompts when key entering card information.

If a purchase seems suspicious, or questions arise when entering information, call your processor or voice authorization center. They can walk you through the steps necessary to successfully accept the card.

Not asking your processor to help you find the lowest processing costs.

Running a business takes a lot of time and energy, and the last thing an owner wants to do is keep up with the all the requirements from the card brands on interchange qualifications.

If you are consistently seeing mid-qualified or non-qualified transactions, your processor can help you discover why your transactions are not qualifying for the best rates. Sometimes simple changes can make a big difference, such as ensuring transactions are batched out within established timeframes, making sure POS devices and software are properly encoding transactions, or taking advantage of special programs.

If you don’t know, ask. Your processor should be able to evaluate your situation and offer money-saving suggestions.

Tossing monthly statements into a drawer without opening and reviewing.

Yes, reviewing a monthly statement may be time consuming, but it also can be time well spent. Reading the statement message each month will keep you up to date on any potential price changes that will affect your bottom line.

Familiarizing yourself with cash flow, charges and rate changes gives you a snapshot of your financial health. It also can uncover hidden costs which you can work with your processor to rectify. If you don’t understand an item or term on your statement, call your provider for an explanation.

Consider switching to online reporting. Checking your account via a secure website provides an immediate snapshot of transactions, and eliminates the need for paper statements, offering an environmental benefit.

Ignoring Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance.

PCI DSS is a set of security requirements established to protect cardholders’ account data from fraud. The PCI DSS were developed by the PCI Security Standards Council, which includes American Express®, Discover® Financial, JCB International, MasterCard® and Visa®. For business owners, the standard requires that all hardware and software coming into contact with cardholders’ data must be compliant. The risk of noncompliance includes massive fines, a loss of reputation and bankruptcy.

To avoid this very common credit card processing mistake simply call your processor for any assistance you may need with becoming PCI compliant.

Not reading and understanding pricing and terms of the agreement.

Some processors will do just about anything to win your business. They’ll offer flashy rates, fancy equipment and fabulous deals. For example, some processors will offer a “New Low Rate.” Many times, this is an introductory rate that expires after a number of months. Other processors will offer a low rate, but add extra fees to every transaction. Some processors require business owners to purchase equipment from them. Others require businesses to lease equipment for a set period, and charge a penalty for opting out before the agreement ends. IMPORTANT NOTE: all processors pay the same rates to the credit card associations to move transactions. (Both Visa and MasterCard post interchange rates on their websites.) The differences are in the extras a processor offers.

One of the most important ways to avoid a processing mistake is to never make a rash judgment or decision – take a moment to consider a processor’s strengths and if those strengths line up with your needs.

Credit Card Processing

Questions To Ask Your Credit Card Processor

Make Time for A Yearly Payments Checkup

Add one more item to your list of annual checkups – a review of your payment needs. Along with health, insurance and vehicle exams, it is a good idea to make time once a year for a review of your processor and payment agreement.

An annual exam with your processing partner can uncover changes that may save you money, or introduce new security procedures to protect your customers and your business. The following are 10 important questions to ask during a review to ensure you are receiving the best return on your investment, and that you are safely operating within industry standards.

Has my business changed?

Changes to your average transaction to an increase to your overall sales volume, fluctuations in the types of transactions you process may help you qualify for lower rates. Or perhaps the addition of an online presence or an expansion into new items or services may require updated processing services – and may allow you to offer your customers new ways to pay.

Does your processor understand your business?

Just as you wouldn’t call a plumber for an electrical problem, why consult a processor who knows nothing about your business? Your processor should understand your business model, what drives your industry, and offer suggestions to help you grow and succeed

Is your processor EMV® chip card ready?

Make sure your business is using secure, up-to-date credit card machines to accept payments. Chip-enabled terminals take advantage of the fraud-fighting technology built into EMV cards and may help protect you from card-present counterfeit fraud. Many newer terminals also allow you to accept digital wallet payments via Near Field Communication (NFC), including Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

Is your processor keeping up with latest technology?

In today’s business environment, it is essential to have a POS solution that is secure, fast, redundant, and supports the latest payment technologies such as EMV and NFC/Apple Pay™

Does your processor support Apple Pay and other mobile wallets?

Accepting the latest ways consumers want to pay requires a processor willing to invest in research and development while forging partnerships with all players in the payments industry. Your processor should have the industry connections needed to stay on top of new payment developments, the ability to quickly adopt new ways to pay, and the knowledge to help you determine which new consumer payments are right for your business.

Are the rates on your statement the same as outlined in your contract?

Compare your contract with a monthly statement to ensure fees and rates are consistent. If not, ask your processor about the discrepancies.

Is customer service available when you need it?

Many businesses today operate 24/7, and the last thing you need is a processing problem outside of customer service hours. Ensure customer service representatives are available during your business hours, not just your processor’s.

Do you receive regular communication and educational opportunities from your processor?

Your processor should provide regular communication about industry news, regulatory changes, new products and other payment developments that affect your business.

Do you receive statements and payments on time?

Statements should be timely and available to meet your business needs. Many processors offer online access to real-time transaction information to help you track a wealth of information including fees, batch processing, income and volume.

Should your exam lead you to begin the search for a new processor, remember, not all processors are equal. Research and evaluate vendors based on your gathered information, experience and need, not just on price. Then choose a payments partner that best meets your requirements. In the end, you will benefit from the effort. To ensure you continue to benefit, set a reminder now to conduct another payments review in 12 months.

Credit Card Processing Security

EMV and Counterfeit Cards

You have heard all the talk about the “Liability Shift” – well the October 1, 2015 deadline has past and the world has not come to an end.  As you are aware the new credit and debit cards that are being issued have a microchip embedded on the front of each card. The purpose of the microchip is to make it harder for criminals to use your debit/credit card fraudulently and is designed to meet the EMV standard. Now we all know that there will always be criminals and having this new technology is not going to prevent other forms of card fraud.

EMV- which stands for Europay, Mastercard, and Visa – is the global standard for smart cards.  Europay, Mastercard, and Visa were the original payment brands that came together to create the standard. The standard has since been regulated by American Express, Discover, JCB, MasterCard, UnionPay, and Visa and is now known as EMVCo.

Four things should be noted about the liability shift:

  1. The arrival of October 1 does not mean that all debit/credit cards need to be EMV, it means that merchants need to be ready to accept chip-enabled cards by that date if they do not want to be affected by the new fraud liability rules.
  2. Upgrading POS systems to accept chip cards is not legally mandated- it is an optional measure to protect your business from fraud liability.
  3. Even if you have an updated EMV-compliant POS machine, if you run a counterfeit chip card via the magnetic strip reader instead of the chip reader, you will be liable for the fraud.
  4. Even if the counterfeit card swiped at a traditional POS machine is in the form of a traditional card, you will be liable for fraud if the data on the counterfeit card was obtained from a legitimate chip card.

What is a Counterfeit Card?

Counterfeit credit cards are fakes that have real account information stolen from victims. Often, the victims still have their real cards, so they don’t know a crime has occurred. The cards appear legitimate, with issuers’ logos and encoded magnetic strips. To create a counterfeit card, criminals go into any local supermarket and grab prepaid debit cards you normally buy as gifts. Honest people go to the counter check out and activate the card by loading a dollar amount onto the card.  For criminals however, they are just shells – they want them to look like a real credit card and don’t care about the numbers embossed on the front or anything printed on the card such as: “A Gift For You”.  All they want is a card that looks like the real thing and has a mag stripe so they can load stolen data onto the back of this card and use it at another store.  Now the cashier that gets that card will think it’s just another one of the dozens of cards they accept each day and will just swipe away!  A counterfeit card created, sold on the street and used to buy goods and services is as easy as 1-2-3!  Scary, I know.

There are things that merchants can and should do even without EMV-enabled equipment to protect themselves.  By setting your current credit card terminal or POS system to prompt for the the last 4 digits of the card number on the front of the card and using the CVV/CID from the back or front (American Express) of the card are great tools to prevent fraud!  Why?  It really is quite simple – when card data is stolen and encoded onto a “shell” the information will not match.  For example:  The last four digits of your card are 6848 however the stolen data that was encoded on the “shell” end with 1298.  Unless it is a very sophisticated criminal group, most counterfeit credit cards are crudely encoded and are designed to just “get the job done” rather than impress.

Credit Card Processing Security

What is EMV?

We have been inundated with phone calls for the last few months, from our merchants – all asking the same questions:

What is EMV?
What is chip card technology?
Can I be fined or even arrested if my terminal is not EMV Capable?
Without an EMV machine,  will I lose ALL chargebacks on your account?
Is it true that EMV is the only way to process credit card charges after October 1, 2015?

610 Merchant Services is here to help put all of our merchant’s, and hopefully some new ones, minds at ease.  We all have heard or read something about the looming October 1, 2015 liability Shift.

Lets start off by defining Liability Shift: this simply means there is a change in the financial responsibility to the merchant, bank or credit card company should a fraudulent transaction take place.  Today, if a card present  in-store transaction is made using a counterfeit, stolen or otherwise compromised card, consumer losses from that transaction fall back on the payment processor or issuing bank.   After the October 1, 2015, deadline (which was created by major U.S. credit card issuers MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express), the liability for card-present fraud will shift to whichever party is the least EMV-compliant in a fraudulent transaction.

Now at this point you may be asking what is EMV?  EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa.  EMV is a global standard for credit and debit payment cards based on chip card technology.

As the U.S. payment industry transitions to EMV technology, there’s a lot to adjust to, starting with what to call the new cards. You may have already heard or read these terms – don’t stress over the different terms either, they all mean the same thing.

  • Smart card
  • Chip card
  • Smart-chip card
  • Chip-enabled smart card
  • Chip-and-choice card (PIN or signature)
  • EMV smart card
  • EMV card

How will EMV Effect Your Business by 610 Merchant Services of Stafford VirginiaHere is how the new technology cards work:  Rather than a magnetic strip, EMV uses a microprocessor chip embedded in the card.

Unlike magnetic stripe transactions where typically the track 2 data containing the card number and expiry date is processed, every chip card transaction contain dozens of pieces of information to be exchanged between the card, the terminal and the acquiring bank or processors host.  This requires the terminal to perform many stages of complex processing, including cryptographic authentication, to successfully complete a transaction.

What does this all mean for merchants?

Pre-October 1st Scenario
1. A counterfeit card is used at a merchant location
2. Customer sees charge, calls credit card company to dispute and charges it back
3. Merchant supplies signed sales receipt and will win chargeback

Post-October 1st Scenario
1. Card data is stolen and encoded onto a fake credit card
2. This “counterfeit” card is used at a merchant location
3. Customer sees charge, calls credit card company to dispute and charges it back
4. If the counterfeited card was originally an EMV-issued card (i.e. a chip card) then:
Merchant supplies signed sales receipt and will win chargeback ONLY IF merchant has an EMV terminal;
Merchant will lose chargeback if merchant does not have an EMV terminal
5. If card was not issued as an EMV card then Merchant will supply sales receipt as normal and win chargeback regardless of type of machine they have (EMV-enabled or otherwise)

We have heard so many sales tactics (or lies) such as:

1) If you don’t have an EMV machine, the police will give you a $100 ticket.
2) Without an EMV machine, you will lose ALL chargebacks on your account.
3) EMV is the only way to process credit card charges after October 1, 2015, so without that machine, you won’t be able to take cards.
4) Your website needs to be able to take EMV cards. (Hint: There is no EMV acceptance ability – i.e. chip reading – on websites and there is no Liability Shift for e-commerce or Key-Entered transactions.)
5) EMV cards are cheaper than swiped sales.

Don’t be fooled by these sales tactics.  610 Merchant Services is here to answer any questions you have.

POS Systems

All Things Clover

Our payments processor – First Data, decided to buy out a small Android POS startup in 2013 named Clover Networks. Clover Networks decided to their go at the tablet market in early 2012. In the process, they forged their own applications market on proprietary hardware — bundling it into one package and sent it out into the world.  It’s marketed as a quick serve, restaurant, or small retail solution – not precisely meant to compete with legacy enterprise systems initially, but strong acceptance by merchants is changing that fact.


Clover is something of a special case when it comes to hardware.  Everything comes in the same bundle: terminal, stand, printer, and cash drawer for one price.  Need more printers for the kitchen or a Bluetooth bar-code scanner? You can get those too.  There’s even an integrated scale for pricing by weight available.  Initially the basic bundle was  non-negotiable. Now however, one may obtain a Clover Mini or a Clover Mobile in lieu of or to complement the Clover POS station. Nevertheless the operation of all remain the same.

There are a few reasons for this.  For one, Clover wanted to ensure there is no confusion during setup; having one standard configuration – complete with color-coded cables – helps keep everything simple.  They also champion the security of a closed system.  Since the tablet is built especially for Clover, there is no risk of breaches due to unrelated applications or questionable personal use by unscrupulous employees (you know who you are!).  This argument has its counterpoints, though, as we’ll address later.

The hardware itself is attractive, with that sort of sleek, Apple-esque sheen that’s so chic in tech these days.  Aesthetics are well and good, but the design goes deeper than that.  Those aforementioned colored plugs make setup a breeze, and the high-speed printer that serves as the connection hub lives up to its name.  Clover’s stand boasts a smoothly swiveling arm that swings the tablet around to allow customers to sign with their finger; twisting as it rotates, the tablet displays in portrait mode for tip and signature while cashiers operate in landscape.

It’s all sturdily built, and the printer has additional USB ports for future expansions.  To say the least, the standard bundle gets owners started in style.


First Data’s main selling point with Clover is its applications structure – and in truth, there’s a lot to like about it.  Taking advantage of the Android open source platform, Clover is based on the principle that any registered developer can step in and create additional software for the system.   Every function is divided into specialized applications governing the service in question.   Sure, it comes with a suite of basic applications – a register,  simple inventory,  table grid, and so forth – and many of them do the job just fine.  It certainly doesn’t lack for the most common features, and the level of modification is adequate to start.  However, sometimes you want a little more punch.  The inventory, for example, is extremely basic however.

Yet,  therein lies the beauty of the Clover Applications Market.  Merchants can optionally download additional function programmed by first, –  second, – or third-party developers.  Stock (by developer Seven Spaces) is an excellent inventory application that solves many of the deficiencies found in the built-in software.  Similarly, there are numerous other integrations with more popular plug-ins such as NoshList for restaurant seating and scheduling.  Now clearly these developers are not in this for the sheer joy of programming, entertaining though it may be; while many applications are free or have trial versions, there are added costs for a number of these downloads.  Typically, they either require a license purchase or an added monthly subscription cost.  All pricing is determined by the developer — and thus is beyond Clover’s control.  Still, optional is the key word here.  Merchants are left to decide whether or not the added value justifies the cost.

So far, Clover has done a good job of vetting its developers to ensure only approved applications are made available through the proprietary marketplace.  It is growing, though, and new applications are always in the works.  Solutions for marketing, payroll and much more are available through a quick search of the Clover app web site.  Some applications (e.g.  register) work only via tablet in order to restrict actual POS to the hardware provided; many of them are available through the web portal, allowing owners to access reports and manage their POS off-property.

The applications work well – and indeed should be easy to master quickly for any seasoned tablet  user.  There’s still a small gulf between simple & intuitive (the same with Apple & Android alike). No matter what side of the fence you reside, learning the critical functions should pose no problem.

Something to consider, though . . .  the applications model lends itself well to innovation, but it doesn’t always  necessarily engender smooth operations.  As a dedicated Android users myself, I’m well versed in the platform’s tendency to experience slowdown — especially as more applications and functions are added to the device – keep this in mind when choosing which applications & functions to utilize.


OK.  Buckle up, because this section is very important.  Let’s start with my most recent point: Learning the system.  Even accepting your storied mastery of all things technological,  let us say you have an issue with some app.  Where do you turn?

Well, instinct says you call Clover, right? Well, maybe.  Probably not the best idea however.  Clover will only support their built-in applications – and mostly they concern themselves with integration,  menu building, etc.;  past that, they foist responsibility on the independent dealers that sold the system to assist merchants in finding these solutions (here, whether you obtain your Clover from your bank or an independent merchant processor can make all the difference).

Official application support is left to Clover or the Processor.  Some preliminary support testing shows the choosing a dedicated independent processor who offeres Clover ot us a response 100% of the time – and the independent developers that did answer had smaller staffs with limited hours.  They often shoot for 24/7, but many of these calls result in voice-mail that must be returned later.

We’re not naming names – this isn’t about scapegoats – but any longtime smart phone user or open-source aficionado will recognize the inherent problems with this model.  I’m sure many of these applications never require late-night emergency support, but some bars and restaurants might need help with a few functions after hours.  And how many times have you had an application vanish from the market, or had an amateur programmer disappear after posting his work?  My experiences with WordPress has taught me the unyielding futility of engaging in Russian roulette with 10k home-cooked plug-ins.  Although First Data is working to ensure their system only features trustworthy developers, there is bound to be some difficulty organizing a seamless POS.  Not all software support is created equal!


You must order your hardware through your processor, and – oddly enough–  really pushes to load your restaurant menu for you up front, before they even ship your package.  Some would rather do it themselves.  You can request to do this, but it seems a strange detail nonetheless.  Best,  however, is your unbreakable marriage to your processor.  Hardware is either purchased immediately, placed with a monthly usage fee, or spread out over the course of an ironclad lease.  And what if the merchant does leave?  He may hate his processing rates – and go.  Usually Clover hopes they will enjoy your thousand-dollar paperweight.  However, there are one or two ISOs which can & will buy back the Clover. Nevertheless, cancellations of processing will be rare.

That’s right: the hardware bundle works ONLY for the processor from whom it was purchased.  Pretend, for a moment, that your merchant  loves Clover and is merely seeking better pricing from a new First Data ISO, he will still have to buy a new hardware bundle.  This is not the case for 610 Merchant Services as we have a price match guarantee on processing

Part of the advantage of going to a First Data processor is your ability to negotiate pricing much more easily than, say, the bank.  Think of them like a huge oil company; they don’t really sell their product directly to most consumers, but they have hundreds of corner stations (ISOs, banks etc.,) conveniently willing to provide copious gasoline and personalized support at a small markup.  Sounds great in theory, but you’ve got to shop around to get a good rate – especially since you only get one shot with this Clover processor restriction.  Many processors like ours, have no-strings arrangements that enable users to switch processors fairly quickly.