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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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Who's your VISA (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, Avila, wilderness voice

    issuer?

    We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

    by raptavio on Wed May 23, 2012 at 01:10:38 PM PDT

  •  Ai yi yi. (8+ / 0-)

    Ugh -- I'm sure it was only an impulse in moment of weakness.  You probably didn't even WANT the face cream, particularly.  Confirms me in my determination never to sign up for ANY freebies, discounts, coupons, sweepstakes, or unsoliticited offers of any kind.  

    But the REAL crime here is the problems you faced correcting the issue with VISA.  We have a right to expect that supposedly-reputable businesses act in a reasonably responsive manner.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Wed May 23, 2012 at 01:13:31 PM PDT

  •  Step 1 (8+ / 0-)

    report this to the attorney general and the better business bureau.

    Step 2 report this to your bank (sounds like you did) and to your visa card (sounds like you did).

    Step 3 CLOSE YOUR VISA ACCOUNT AND OPEN ANOTHER. Talk to your bank and your visa rep, and tell them that these are fraudulent charges based on a known and long-running scam (it's been around for at least 3 years or more). That you refuse to pay those charges, as you have received no product or service in return for that money. And that you would like to close your account and open a new account with the same bank/bank-card, with a different account number.

    The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

    by RedDan on Wed May 23, 2012 at 01:22:55 PM PDT

  •  This is the new way to do fraud. (6+ / 0-)

    Instead of stealing a lot of money from a few people, computers make it easier to steal a little money from a lot of people.  Since each individual fraud is so small, law enforcement usually will not spend the large effort to go after one of them.

    The solution is for the Federal government to make a much larger effort to go after these sorts of frauds.  They are by far in the best position to do so, since they could aggregate many small cases and they are better positioned to go after interstate frauds.

    It might be necessary to pass new laws to make a large number of small frauds as severe an offense as a large fraud.

    "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

    by Thutmose V on Wed May 23, 2012 at 01:31:02 PM PDT

  •  It's thought-provoking to consider the degree (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, Bob Duck, Avila, Margd, Cassandra Waites

    of trust we engage in each and every time we conduct a credit-card transaction.   Not just online, either, but at any cash register or restaurant.  

    It's amazing it works as well as it does, most of the time.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Wed May 23, 2012 at 01:41:24 PM PDT

    •  I agree (6+ / 0-)

      I've shifted to mainly cash.  Also, it's astounding how people have allowed banks to get a cut of the top of all commerce without a whimper while they would be kicking and screaming if it was suggested that taxes go up. Banks now get a piece of everything from purchases to food stamps and unemployment payments and fees on these are an ever increasing source of revenue to use against the common man.

      Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

      by DRo on Wed May 23, 2012 at 01:49:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  AMEX handles fraud spectacularly well (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo

    That has been our experience.

    My AMEX card was used in the Zappos hacking last winter. My husband (who checks our bill online daily) spotted a huge charge (over $1000) and asked me about it. I hadn't ordered anything from Zappos in years, but they had kept my credit card number on file. Someone hacked Zappos and ordered a bunch of merchandise on our account to be delivered to an address other than ours.

    We called AMEX. They cancelled my card so no new charges would go through, blitzed the pending fraudulent charge, and sent me a new card overnight. No questions asked. Problem solved within 15 minutes.

    We've disputed charges a couple of times before and had similarly good experiences. And my husband thought he lost his wallet another time, and they sent us a new card overnight then, too.

    Another good thing about our AMEX is that we get a percentage of our charges back in cash at the end of the year (2 or 3 percent, I think). And it's a no fee card, too.

    •  Good to know. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elmo

      I had one in the past, but I don't see them used much anymore.  

      Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

      by DRo on Wed May 23, 2012 at 03:08:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  AMEX (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DRo

        isn't accepted everywhere because of the higher fees they charge merchants. I have a backup Visa in my wallet for use on those rare occasions when I do business someplace that  doesn't take AMEX.

        Our chicken feed supplier doesn't take AMEX, but most other places I use, do.

        •  After yesterday (0+ / 0-)

          I closed all my accounts and opened new ones.  I now only have plastic tied to one account and was assured if there is an attempted overdraft (It is a debit card) the transaction will be denied.  This is the way I want it as it limits my liability.  The problem I may have if I want to book a flight I believe they reject debit cards, so I may have to decide how to handle that.

          Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

          by DRo on Wed May 23, 2012 at 04:08:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Which AMEX card has no fee? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DRo

      I thot they all did, from little green all the way up to big black.

  •  Sorry you had this experience (3+ / 0-)

    I had a bad experience trying to order a camera once. After I figured out it was a scam, I googled the name of the company and came up with dozens of complaints just like mine.

    Before you buy over the internet, always google the name of the company to see what comes up. And, look to be sure that the company posts a physical address on its website. Often the squirrelly outfits won't do that.

    You can also check a company out with the Better Business Bureau, too.

    •  I will be very careful in the future.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elmo

      In this case, each of these outfits had a product name, a company name and they ship with still a new name on the shipping label.  I did a BB search, but there are too many duplicates know who you are dealing with.  BB will help if you can supply the location and address, but when you order off the net they could be from Nigeria.  And if the name is fairly common it can't be singled out.  

      Another reason to do business locally. ;)

      Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

      by DRo on Wed May 23, 2012 at 02:59:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wait....you slogged through a phone tree (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, wilderness voice

    Hit zero a few times and you'll get a person.  Then get their name, then tell them, then get a supervisor. Write names, times and dates down, ask for warm transfers. Always get names and locations and ask for direct phone numbers.  Most phone systems respond to multiple zero's by connecting you to a person.  Try to never leave a voice mail but instead get a supervisors name/number and assurance they'll get back to you w/at least an update by....you choose a reasonable time frame and get their agreement to it.

    •  At one point (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice

      I spoke to someone named Michelle.  She gave me a phone number at VISA that  did not answer.  When I call back and asked for Michelle again so I would not have to repeat the whole story, I was asked for her last name, which I didn't know.  Spent some time on that with no results..

      I did most of what you recommended as far as keeping names and time log.  

      My view is if someone prints a phone number on a credit card and/or statement for that credit card, it should be a number that reaches someone who can help with credit card issues...not an other area of the bank. I don't really want to hear today's mortgage rates or locations, hours etc.

      I never knew to ask for warm transfers so that's good to know.  Thanks.

      Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

      by DRo on Thu May 24, 2012 at 04:58:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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