Knowledge Is Power
Elavon Processor and
Our organization had two departments accepting credit cards using
US Bank / Elavonfor credit card processing. One department used a Ingenico iCT250 terminal while the other used a Verifone VX520. The department that used the Ingenico terminal would swipe a credit card and receive an approval back almost instantaneously (1 to 2 seconds). The department using the Verifone terminal would swipe a card and it would take around 1-minute, 45-seconds (1:45) to receive an approval.
The department with the Verifone terminal had been using an older dial-up-only model of terminal and were getting approval times of about 45 seconds. They were used to that because it had always been that way. When this unit died, Elavon recommended the VX520 which can use either a dial-up connection (phone line) or an ethernet (network) connection. When they received and connected the VX520 their approval times increased by one minute. That's when I was called in to investigate.
Having recently connected and configured the Ingenico unit for the other department to use the Internet instead of a telephone line I was certain that once I configured the VX520 to use the Internet instead of the telephone line they would be just as fast as the department with the Ingenico. No such luck. As a matter of fact, no luck at all. Even when using the Inernet the approval times stayed exactly the same, 1:45. Even though both departments used the same internal network and Internet pipe, not to mention the same processor and bank, there was almost a two-minute difference in swipe approval times.
Elavon Sucks !
Suspecting the unit was still using the phone line even with the ethernet cable plugged in I went searching for a PDF of a manual for VX520. After finding and reading through it I didn't see any setting or menu selection that would force the unit to use the ethernet connection. After a 30-minute hold time my first call to Elavon merchant technical support was average, finding out that, for some unknown reason, the unit was shipped with a configuration file that did not allow for the use of the ethernet connection. A new file would be built and I would have to call back to get instructions on how to download it.
After another 30-minute hold time the new IP configuration file was downloaded to the VX520 and it made absolutely no difference. Big Red Flag. When the authorization times are the same when using either a telephone line or a network connection there's obviously a problem with either the terminal or the processing service.
I call back and hold for another 30 minutes only to have this agent (I got a different agent each time even though I would punch in my existing ticket number in their phone system menu) tell me that if the ethernet cable is connected to a network and it was still taking 1:45 seconds to receive an authorization then that's as fast as the terminal can process transactions. (WHAT?!?!?) After saying I wanted to speak to a supervisor it took a LOT of complaining and arguing to get them to agree to send out a replacement unit. (She first asked if we could just live with it.) When I complained about the first agent's remarks she said that she must have misunderstood me. There was no misunderstanding. Either the supervisor and agent are related or involved. I can think of no other reason a supervisor would make excuses for such incompetent bahavior.
However, before our call was over I just happened to mention that we chose not to use the pin-pad so it was not connected. We don't take debit cards and Verifone has a couple Verifone Training videos on Youtube for the VX520 and one of them states that the keypad is optional and doesn't have to be hooked up. The supervisor said the keypad absolutely needed to be connected because the VX520 looks for it every time you swipe a card. Obviously the approval delays were due to the keypad discovery routine timing out. Now that made sense.
The supervisor was partly right. It cut the time in half. Approval times were now down to 50 seconds. Even though this was comparable to their old dial-up-only terminal and the cashiers were satisfied, I was not. If one terminal can get approvals in 2 seconds then another terminal on the same network with the same processor should get them in two seconds. So I called back to Elavon tech support, waited the 30 minutes, and asked them to send a replacement, which they did.
Because I reviewed so much information on the VX520 I don't recall exactly where I read it but I recall seeing something that said if you plug in an ethernet cable you can leave the telephone line plugged in so the telephone line will be used as a backup in the event the network goes down. However, when I received the replacement terminal I plugged in the ethernet cable but neglected to plug the telephone line back in. I noticed that the terminal booted up MUCH faster. If you boot up the terminal with the telephone line plugged in there is a long delay with "Please wait....." on the screen.
With the pin-pad plugged in and the telephone line unplugged transaction times are down to 25 seconds and Elavon technical support said there's nothing they can do. They claim it's the Verifone terminal so I contacted Verifone technical support. They said they don't support their products and I'd have to get any support from Elavon. When I told them that Elavon was claiming that their VX520 terminal was 30 seconds slower than a comparable Ingenico they sent emailed me a PDF of a product brochure.
Elavon charged the department $899 for the VX520. Most other processors charge $200 to $300. When I asked if they could exchange the problematic VX520 for an Ingenico the Elavon supervsor said 'no'. When I explained that they had just purchased the terminal a week earlier she said they don't offer refunds or credits. If the department wanted to get an Ingenico terminal they'd have to eat the $900 and buy the Ingenico out-right (probably for another $900). The fact that they had just purchased the VX520 was the only reason the Elavon supervisor agreed to send out a replacement.
So here are the key take-aways from my experiences and experimentation:
Payline Data is located in Chicago and is associated with Fifth-Third Bank. They donate at least 10% of the fees you pay to them to a charity of your choosing. You get an assigned account rep (instead of a random call center agent each time you call) and they offer a best-price guarantee. I don't have any financial interest in Payline Data and the links to them on this page are NOT affiliate links so I'm not gaining anything by sending you there. It's just that I did a lot of research and Payline came out at the top of my list. By the way, Payline charges $237 for the same VX520 terminal that Elavon charged $899 for.
- Avoid Elavon at all costs. Their first line support sucks and the routine 30-minute wait times and refusal to credit customers for purchased terminals is evidence they don't care about customers. Go with
Payline Data(see below).
- Avoid Verifone terminals. Get the Ingenico iCT250. I find the setup menus to be much more user friendly and intuative and they work fast even if a pin-pad isn't plugged in.
- If you have to use a Verifone terminal, plug in the pin-pad even if it's not needed.
- If you have to use a Verifone terminal with an ethernet connection, leave the telphone line unplugged.
Verifone also has issues. They refuse to provide support for their own products. My experience with the performance of the VX520 is the direct opposite of what is stated by the company in YouTube training videos. Buggy software is released and there's no way to determine if you're affected or when a fix is due. Even their support Web site is a joke with many pages not having any content. The Ingenico iCT250 was the first payment card terminal I ever set up and I didn't even need the manual. The menus were user friendly and made the setup a breeze.
I think both Elavon and Verifone are just too big. They don't care if they lose your business because they've got a large market share in their respective businesses. In a way that's a good thing because it forces us to look for better deals, and there are better deals, and better equipment, out there.
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