Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Latest On The First Data / Citi Merchant Services Scandal

Friends, I've written about this in an earlier post (scroll down three posts if you don't want to click on the link).

It now appears that the real culprit behind the rejection of credit card transactions for such firearms purchases might be First Data rather than Citi Merchant Services. A report on Merchant Talk states that:

"Effective today, First Data has just terminated all of its firearm merchants selling in non face-to-face transactions. For those of you not familiar with credit card processing, First Data is responsible for more than 60% of payment processing in the United States. They have not only terminated many of these legitimate and established merchants but they have done so while holding all outgoing funds. Several banks have followed suit with CitiGroup (NYSE C) immediately jumping on the bandwagon and Bank of America (NYSE BAC) expected to follow.

While I personally don’t own a gun, nor plan to, I respect the rights of people to legally own and legally sell them. While the system isn’t perfect, for major banks and processors to take a stance like this is wrong and illegal. I suspect that the National Rifle Association will follow up with an official response.

Please don’t make this a matter of whether you agree with gun sales or not, it’s not the job of First Data or any such private organization to take this stance. I imagine that the matter will be overturned in court.

Let’s see, what industry is next? People, this is a prime example of my earlier post today and I hope that the government steps in immediately to stop private industry from making such decisions immediately. Whatever your opinion is on firearms, this is only the beginning. Because if this manages to stick, before long your industry may be next."
I fully agree with the author of the Merchant Talk post. People, if this is true we need to hammer First Data into the ground. I suggest we all pass the word about this and ask First Data for clarification - they helpfully provide contact names, numbers and e-mail addresses to do so. Let's make our opinion known to them loud and clear. This nonsense cannot, repeat, cannot be allowed to stand.



Sevesteen said...

I'm curious what has actually happened here--According to this post in a thread on Glocktalk, A CDDN customer only accepted part of a large order from his local FFL, and charged the rest back, possibly fraudulently. The FFL process made it more difficult to sort out, but the situation has been resolved.

On the other hand, the letter certainly looks authentic--Maybe two separate issues?

Anonymous said...

I saw this posted in three places, so I figured I'd ask the horse's mouth, so to speak.

For what its worth, my msg to First Data yesterday, 1/9:

"Please tell me why your company has decided to dishonor lawful transactions regarding firearms purchases. I'd also like to know if I can expect other areas of merchandise to be targeted in the near future."



First Data's response today, 1/10:

"Thank you for your message. The posting at regarding Citi Merchant Services and First Data Corp. is inaccurate. Further, while we generally do not comment on individual merchant customers, we would like to briefly address the 12/26 letter posted on the web site. Regretfully, that letter did a less than satisfactory job of expressing applicable policies. Those policies are more properly detailed below.

Citi Merchant Services and First Data do process firearms transactions. Our policy restrictions address only the sale of firearms in a non face-to-face environment. Non face-to-face transactions occur when a cardholder is not present in front of a merchant and includes mail order and online purchases. It is our policy not to service merchants that make non face-to-face sales in a number of industries, including firearms.

It is not the policy of Citi Merchant Services or First Data to refuse to process transactions from duly licensed merchants that sell firearms in face-to-face transactions at the point of sale.

Please direct any questions to

The posting also incorrectly states that Robert Tenenbaum is the supervisor when, in fact, he is not."

[no signature]

My response today, 1/10, to the original First Data address I'd used , the one they provided, and

Thank you for your response, Ms. [xxxxxx].

I am copying NSSF in order that they may see your direct response. I do like hearing directly from the source, so that's where I usually head on items of special importance to me.

I'm not sure where you draw the distinction in defining "firearms," but it is an important point for many who enjoy the hobby of target shooting and the activity of hunting, not to mention purchases for personal defense use.

Your position, correctly or incorrectly stated elsewhere, is spreading like wildfire throughout the vast hobby shooter and hunter community. I'm sure that many will agree with me that any policy to not honor what is a lawful transaction, for instance, the upper receiver for an AR-type rifle, a non-registered firearm component, is most objectionable.

You did not address my second question, and I assume your reference to "questions@" means they will do so. I am very interested in your selection of 'industries' for non-service, and what, if any, the commonality may be.

Again, thanks for your prompt response.


Anonymous said...

From what I understand, First Data uses the licensed name of Citi Merchant Services. That is, they are one and the same.