We Review Merchant Careers from First Direct Financial

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Quick Summary of Merchant Careers

Rating: 3 out of 5. FDF operates a legit program that turns you into a trained salesperson for a fee.

Pros: Merchant Careers seems to be a solid training program where you gain access to expert online materials and become a salesperson for a credit and debit card processor.

Cons: The training program offers no refund, and there is the possibility that the market is or will become oversaturated. Also, there is no guarantee that the training is sufficient to help you sell credit and debit card processing services.

Our Recommendation: Merchant Careers might be worth a try if you already have some sales background. Otherwise, this program seems like it would be a lot of work. You may be interested in learning about our top recommendation on how to build a business. Best of all, it's free to get started.

Full Review

When you swipe your credit card at a store, restaurant or gas station, there are different systems that come together to process your transaction. There is the credit card company itself, which your merchant charges. There is also the credit card payment processor, which encrypts the transaction and enables the payment amount to be charged to the credit card company.

In exchange for these service systems, the merchant loses a percentage of your transaction amount to both the credit card company and the payment processor. This loss is called the merchant processing fee and ranges from 2%-6%. Thus, many merchants shop around for payment processors that have the lowest fees yet can accept the widest range of credit cards.

Welcome to First Direct Financial

Enter First Direct Financial (FDF), a merchant account provider (and technically, a sub-independent sales organization) that works with the direct processor, CardConnect, to enable merchants to accept credit cards from customers like you.

However, FDF doesn’t operate in a vacuum, and neither does CardConnect. In fact, there are hundreds of merchant account providers out there, as well as direct processors, vying to establish merchant accounts. After all, the credit card industry is big business, and everyone wants a cut of the billions of consumer transactions occurring on a daily basis.

In light of this fact, FDF leverages its efforts to generate merchant accounts by hiring salespeople. FDF takes a rather interesting approach to how it hires its salespeople…it actually approaches them first. This is done under the guise of a program called Merchant Careers.

My review of Merchant Careers, as presented by First Direct Financial

Earlier this week, I received an email from Merchant Careers. Within that email, it was stated that I had been selected from a broad search of area entrepreneurs on an invitation-only basis to attend a webinar. The webinar itself was going to instruct me how I could make a residual income.

I signed up for this webinar and, on the day it was scheduled, received an email and mobile text to attend it. Once I entered the site, I was introduced to two presenters, Shawn Whitson and Cary Flanders (who are shown at the bottom left of my webinar screen shots).

Shawn and Cary first discussed how credit card payments work and the basis of merchant processing fees. They then explained why the 80 or so attendees of today’s webinar had been invited:

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So, what is this “great opportunity?”

At first, what Shawn and Cary offer to their attendees is the opportunity to become a sales associate (SA) with FDF. As an SA, you make a residual commission on any new merchant account you sign up to CardConnect via FDF. So, anytime the merchant swipes a credit or debit card and uses CardConnect to complete the transaction, you get a portion of the merchant processing fee. This is explained as follows:

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But wait…there’s even more opportunity in store.

Because credit cards have recently been outfitted with security chips, many of the hardware systems that merchants use to process credit and debit cards are outdated. You may have noticed this already while shopping at your local grocery store or gas station- not every merchant can accept your chipped card in his processor. As a result, you’re left swiping your credit card at the terminal even if you do have a chipped card.  

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So, as a salesperson with FDF, you could make a commission through new merchant accounts and through equipment sales/leases.

Shawn and Cary then go into the fundamentals of how you would work within the organization. If you sign up as an SA, you get some training and a 25% commission from FGF. Once you sign up 100 new merchant accounts, you are promoted to regional account manager (RAM), where you receive much more intensive training and double your SA commission rate.

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The perks of being a RAM are obvious but first require signing up 100 merchants accounts.

However, this is where Shawn and Cary surprise you. For a limited time period of roughly 3 days, you can be promoted to a RAM by paying $99/month.

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It seems odd that you can just pay for a work promotion, but the justification here is that it takes money to train and provide you with all the extra items shown above in my screen shot. So…

Is FDF worth the money?

Basically, the point of this webinar is to convince you to pay FDF nearly $1,200/year in order to work as one of its salespersons. Is this monetary investment worth it?

Our motto has always been that you should never pay money for any kind of job opportunity.

Having said that, there are programs that train and educate you in a given field and which you do pay for. A college degree can be looked at as one form of training/education that costs money and promises you a job opportunity at the end. Various online job forums, affiliate programs, etc. also charge you a monthly membership fee.

To be fair, you aren’t obligated to purchase the RAM package and can start out as an SA if you wish. In fact, this is the answer I received when I mentioned being an SA during the webinar:

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In light of this, I list the following benefits and risk of paying for and becoming a RAM with FDF.

The benefits of being a RAM

In exchange for that $99 monthly fee, FDF promises to provide you with additional training, sales leads, and access to a national sales director. You also gain access to the CRM software and other goodies like business cards, a corporate email account, and a tablet with presentation materials.

With credit cards switching over to EMV compliance, merchants need to update their processing equipment, which means there is an opportunity to update their accounts to a completely different processor.

FDF provides a $1,000 incentive to try CardConnect’s processing services, which makes it easier to convince merchants to try FDF.

And let’s not forget that, as a RAM. you’ll enjoy 50% commissions for every new merchant account you sign up.

The risks of being a RAM

Being a salesperson for any product or service carries certain risks that are inherent to the industry. The biggest of these risks is market oversaturation. After every merchant has switched over to EVG compliant equipment and/or is happy with her merchant account provider, you are out of a job.

According to reviews of FDF on Glassdoor, the company may be placing its salespeople too close to one another and encouraging internal competition. One salesperson complained that he went to visit a merchant and was told that someone else from FDF had already visited this merchant a few days prior.

There is also the risk of not making any sales and losing the money and time you’ve invested as a FDF salesperson. FDF explicitly states that it doesn’t do refunds.

Summary

In the end, whether or not selling merchant processing accounts and equipment is right for you will be determined by your territory, how well you can sell, and how much quality training you receive beforehand. It appears that FDF invests heavily in training and education, at least for its RAMs. It also appears that there is a generous commission structure in place for salespeople who make sales.

Merchant Careers does not appear to be a scam, but it also offers no guarantee of success. However, the company does at least seem upfront about what you’re getting into, and it does offer you the opportunity to start selling as an SA.

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10 Comments

  1. aaron marmol says:

    I have been working with fdf since the first recruiting efforts in October2015. I attend the webinar training and have found it to be very helpful and informative. I was a behavioral science major with a minor in interpersonal communication, and the material that is being conveyed is 3500 levelcollege course information. NLP is a proven science originally developed by Charles bander, and his associate Mr Grinder to deprogram fear from patients and reprogram achievement and success in their psyche. $99 dollars a month as an overhead cost for a business starter package is a good deal if you ask me. Making$9k a month isn’t going to happen overnight, and maybe not even the first year, but it can happen and that’s why I’m doing it. I’ll post again when I get it, hope to post soon.

    Reply
  2. Brenda D. Lee says:

    I am just starting. However, I do find if you study your modules to get familiar with them, you will succeed. I am hoping that I get my business cards and t-shirt asap. I have had four businesses to ask for my card. I would like t get my 2 for 2 in a two week period.
    Thanks

    Reply
  3. I canceled my subscription on May 12 and Low and behold him on onJune 30 I got charged another hundred dollars on my credit card pretty shadyand the phone number to my regional manager now has a different guy’s name on it first guys name is Victor this guys name is Scott nothing but a scam

    Reply
    1. Hi George. I wanted to take the time to clear up some confusion we may have had between you and the company. When you contacted us and told us you had a death in the family, we told you that is no problem at all, that you wanted to quit. We completely respected and understood that sir. However, we have begged you to return the equipment on multiple occasions so we could get you cancelled out.

      Your manager Victor Newton retired at the happy age of 82, and Gabe was assigned to help you. I see Gabe has been trying to reach out to you on multiple occasions as well with no luck.

      You did call in on one occasion to the main 800 number and were greeted by Scott Tash our national trainer.

      We work VERY hard to make each and every one of our sales associates and managers in the field very successful. We allow anyone to quit at anytime but we do ask that the equipment always be returned please.

      It was quite dis-heartening to read your negative post here. Please just return our calls or simply return the equipment so we can cancel everything out.

      Thank you
      Shawn Whitson
      Chief Operating Officer

  4. I signed up with merchant careers and paid to be a RAM. I spent countless hours out in the field and received a very nasty experience then on retailer took the time to talk to me and explained why. There was another person out there in my town doing the same thing. However the merchants were not getting what was promised and I called my manager. She pretended not to know who it was. I waited for her to find out what was going on being that I was to be the only one in my town doing that at the time. I never got a response back. So I decided to quit. I was told to send the IPAD back to a specific address I have been trying since 5/20 to get it delivered. It is now on its way back to me. They will not attempt another delivery. I have saved all communications. On 4/13 I received an email from my manager this is what she wrote: Every few weeks my position here at Merchant Careers is evaluated to see if I’m keeping up with meeting all your questions or needs.

    We have this new “toy” that connects to our brand new reviews website. Would you mind filling it out really quick please? It should only take 2 seconds. This link is some how connected to their facebook page and you do not realize that you are posting on facebook. Also the address on the facebook page is different than the address that they requested me to send the IPAD back to. Not even the same building or street. Then on top of all that my manager accidently sent me a text message over the Memorial Day weekend that was suppose to be sent to the other person in my town doing this that she knows nothing about. I have saved all correspondence from this company if anyone would like to see this.

    Reply
    1. Margaret, I would definitely like to know who your manager is, her name that is.

      Thanks,

    2. Hello Margaret,

      This is Julie from Merchant Careers. I was surprised to see your negative comments. I did search our system diligently to see if we had another Regional Account Manager in your area and I did not find one. There could be other agents in your area that represent other processors which is what I told you when you contact me.

      I did send you a text on the Friday before Memorial Day. The text was sent to “Margaret”. It was not sent in error.

      We did recently move our location because we out grew our old office space. All mail is forwarded to our new address. Please feel free to call me if you have any other questions or comments. Thank you, Julie

  5. It said that they would ONLY wave the $99 for the first 3 months if you are at/over 200 accounts!

    Reply
  6. That is correct. Its 100 sales. However, its also a “cancel anytime” so there is no real commitment. I signed up 3 weeks ago and can confirm their setup.

    They do weekly awards ceremonies every Friday online. Here are the recordings from live GoToWebinars. Theres a bunch of them so be prepared for info overload.

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCErn1TE0v500_U8CqpLxzHQ

    I also found their reviews. Multiple spots but primarily the same input.

    https://www.facebook.com/merchantcareers/
    http://www.merchantcareers.com/testimonials.html

    This is an independent sales position offered by the company. They’ve teamed up with Paul Webb training who also has strong background to do their training programs, and I found a lot of strong content online on CardConnect as well.

    So far so good with the training. It’s not cheap content.

    Credit card sales are not going away anytime soon, and the company seems ethical based on their users comments.

    Reply
  7. Only one thing caught my attention. I believe in the webinar, it was stated the $99 per month for the RAM, would stop after so many sales. Not sure if it was 100 or 200. But, it is not on going, after you do get up that the sales number.
    As you said, if you are good at it, great. So, if you are good, the $99 per month might be a fair entry into this business.

    Reply

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