Beware of geeks bearing gifts, so check the fine print on Cisco's latest financing deal

Buy now, even services or second-hand kit, and pay in 2024 … if you feel lucky

Cisco Capital, the networking giant's finance limb, announced on Wednesday it will sell you stuff for the next three months and not ask for any money until 2024.

The "Cisco Capital Business Acceleration Program" is pitched as Switchzilla offering buyers and partners a helping hand in tough times – so they can modernize the networks they'll need to pull through and emerge ready to satisfy demand once economic seasons turn sunnier.

The offer covers hardware, software, and services, as well as "select partner services and third-party hardware."

Cisco's largesse is not enormous: shoppers need to buy before July 29, and payments won't be required until 2024. But once the calendar turns, you'll be up for "total amount financed and contract terms."

To which The Register says: beware of geeks bearing gifts. For a few reasons.

For starters, Cisco makes similar offers from time to time with a 90-day payment holiday. In 2021 Cisco Capital named an offer on those terms the "Business Resiliency Program" and pitched it as Cisco generously helping customers that had been kicked in the COVIDs. The free-until-2024 offer is therefore not a beautiful and unique snowflake.

Another reason to tread carefully is that Cisco still has supply chain problems it's advised won't clear until late in 2023. So, good luck getting the kit you want if your desired products are stuck in the massive backlog Cisco's been trying to clear ever since COVID-19 messed up the tech sector.

That may be why the networking giant has included "Cisco certified remanufactured products" – aka second-hand kit – in the program. In Cisco's parlance such product is "competitively priced and ready-to-ship."

And probably a little old – so maybe not quite what you need for that modernization project.

Finally, Cisco is spinning this as a way to preserve cashflow – which is just what it says about the leasing programs its Finance arm has run since forever. It's also what various network-as-a-service products promise. Thing is, who knows what anyone's cashflow will look like in 2024?

In short, Cisco is offering gear it doesn't necessarily have in exchange for money you don't necessarily have. What could go wrong?

A peek in the small print also gives reason for pause, as Cisco points out "Rates and terms are based on customer's credit rating, offering types, product types, and options. Not all customers may qualify."

Or want to make the attempt. ®

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