On May 11, I clicked on an add for a free trial of a face cream product, you 'only pay the postage'. As it turned out there were two products for the trial and you had to sign up separately and pay postage for both. There were some computer glitches with the sign up and I quickly clicked the 'accepted' terms and conditions to get the process over. I then looked to read the terms and immediately cancelled both transactions.
That was the beginning of what has turned out to be a nightmare of emails, phone calls and actions. After I cancelled both, which was difficult, I received shipment notices emailed by both which required more back and forth. The emails they sent were always no-reply and it was back to the site and phone calls that sometimes answered. I was told by one that the order never went through and they could not explain the shipment notice. Both assured me that if a package arrived I should "Return to Sender" and my account would be credited. I did that.
When I got my VISA account statement the charges were there for the postage charges, in fact one company put in two @ $5.95 and the other a single charge @ $4.95. At that time, I thought perhaps the promised credits had not been posted by the time the statement was sent.
This problem escalated yesterday and I spent twelve hours on the issue at battle with my bank and VISA after finding new charges on my account by both scam companies, one for $84.90 and the other for $79.95. I finally, at last, got my dispute entered and with any luck will be able to get the issue resolved in a couple of months. I must now wait for snail mail and complete all the forms paperwork, which should arrive in 4-6 weeks.
The day started when I went to my banking account page and noticed my VISA balance high and detected the fraudulent charges. This was early AM and I called the number printed on my Card (which is the same number printed on my VISA statement, BTW) and after going through the entire phone tree from top to bottom, beginning with the closing announcements for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, on to hours and locations, on to click on product department, and finally to click on problem selection, after which I was disconnected.
I did this several times before I started calling VISA and got a runaround with more disconnects. At one point VISA transferred me to a bank representative who told me I should let party x handle this, transferred me to party x where I got a chance to leave a voice mail. When I complained about the disconnects late in day when I finally managed to speak with a bank representative, I was informed the disconnects were because that department was not open when I first started calling (banking hours, ya know) or the person was not in that day.
Now I'm clear. Although fraud is allowed 24/7 people can only complain during banking hours. And only after going through the entire phone tree and going through a lengthy identification process should you get a person. You should cross you fingers that the person is not out that day or made a trip to the restroom, otherwise you start over. That's before you get a chance to complain and start the lengthy snail mail interaction. Got that? Those doing a scam do their work in nano seconds but people being scammed have to use phone trees that disconnect and snail mail.
I found hundreds of complaints about this scam in on-line sites yesterday and all have similar stories to mine. Some report phones disconnected and discontinued web sites. Indeed, the site link in an email they sent me now no longer works. On one of my many conversations with VISA I was told that VISA does not take disputes and you must make them through your CARD issuing bank. I charged them with being complicit in the scam by allowing these merchants to continue to bill their client's clients and not closing that merchant account down. They are aware of this problem since January that I know of. I further asserted that I should have the ability to make a complaint 24/7 since they allow scam transactions 24/7.
I was able to finally get my complaint entered only because I had a business card of a branch officer, called her direct line and she managed to get someone on the phone for me. I am closing all of my accounts there (it's a credit union) but have to get my automatic deposit transferred before I can do that. I feel the hassles they put me through are unacceptable for an institution with fiduciary responsibility. Also, in the future I will not be using a card with a VISA logo since they have no due diligence regarding scams.
I'm not sure where this is going, but I do plan to write a formal complaint against both VISA and the Credit Union using my documents and time logs as an example to hopefully help some other folks in the future. I have kept pretty good records, even printing my email that was done through their sites before hitting send so I would have a copy. As of yet, I don't know who the regulating authority(S?) is, though I expect they differ. Also, I wonder if this is class action material?
Any information or suggestions in comments will be appreciated. Thanks.