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Discussion in 'General Scientology Discussion' started by owl, Feb 23, 2009.

  1. Voltaire's Child

    Voltaire's Child Fool on the Hill

    Sure. They'd hate it. But if one was already out, well, then one wouldn't care. Otherwise, if one was still in and it happened, one would be subject and subjected to the dreary round of chits, KRs, etc.

    As to your question- no. It should only be breaches of contract that cause the default interest rate to kick in. Having an illicit charge reversed is in no way a breach of contract.
  2. Voltaire's Child

    Voltaire's Child Fool on the Hill

    Not true, exactly. One can dispute- I've done it successfully as have a number of my friends. I know a lot of people- one of whom was, for many years, an SVP in a credit card division- and one has that recourse. But you'd want to document everything like crazy.

    I also want to suggest to ANYONE who is having ANY difficulty with the bank carrying or servicing their credit card or debit card account in such matters, that they escalate the matter to the bank's "quality of service" (well, every bank calls it something different but they ALL have one and they take complaints VERY seriously. I know because I used to work on some of those when I was in banking.) department. I have known people who had no luck til they did that.
  3. TomatoTester

    TomatoTester Patron

    Does noone on the wrong-side of The Atlantic :)coolwink:) understand the basic principles of Credit cards?

    Assuming we are talking about a Credit Card, rather than a Debit Card or American Express...

    1/ Phone the Credit Card company. Not your bank. The Credit Card Company. Look on the back of your card for the telephone number.

    2/ Tell them an unauthorised payment has been made. Instruct them to make no further payments to that same source because such payments are unauthorised.

    3/ If still worried "Lose" your credit card. Phone number on back, get the "lost" card cancelled and they will issue a new one. New CC#.
  4. Voltaire's Child

    Voltaire's Child Fool on the Hill

    That's true. However, I will tell you that when someone (I'm pretty sure it was CofS because they were signing up for internet services they weren't using and each time it was a provider I'd used before) was having my Am Ex debited for this stuff I never signed up for, Am Ex was NOT going to give me a new card til I demanded it. They were ONLY going to credit the disputed charges.

    Folks, remember, key buzzphrase to use is "dispute" and also "I want a new card with a new number."
  5. skydog

    skydog Patron Meritorious

    David Miscaviage sucks

    In my state, it would only be a crime if it was done for the purposes of forcing someone to do or refrain from doing something he is not legally obligated to do or refrain from doing. I am sure that would not stop those morons from filing a criminal complaint. There is a You tube video (I have few original thoughts)(audio with captions); I can't find it on my computer-it is very funny.

    Again, in my state, if they continue to contact you after you have told them to stop, that would constitute harassment. So asking for the correct spelling of the party's name for the purposes of filing a such a complaint might end the conversation.
  6. CornPie

    CornPie Patron Meritorious

    We have laws in the US to protect us against debit/credit card fraud. But laws are one thing, and how Internet merchants manipulate the system is another.

    My experience has been that roughly 20% of all Internet debit/credit card merchants eventually take advantage of the situation, and "pull" for charges that I did not agree to. This puts the me in the unenviable position of calling that merchant, waiting on hold, sending emails, and begging them, "please merchant, stop pulling money from me."

    Much of the time, unauthorized charges involve recurring services. It's not uncommon for merchants to raise their price whenever they feel like it, and they rarely send out monthly email charge confirmations. Some merchants act like they own a debit/credit card number, once they know it. The most notorious offender I know of is America OnLine (AOL). Another example of a pseudo-recurring charge, was one Christmas when I went online, and purchased a one-year magazine subscription as a gift for a friend. The following year, to renew the subscription, the merchant automatically pulled funds from my debit/credit card, without my knowledge or consent. Over the years, I encountered many other cases of this type of discrepancy. The problem is, you just never know in advance who the flaky Internet merchants are going to be. Only that about 1 in 5 is eventually going to engage in a "defensible" unauthorized charge. It may take them a few months to get around to it, but it's all too common.

    There are times when merchants make it impossible to get in touch with them to resolve an issue. In this case I'm forced to contact my financial institution, to get them to "dispute" the charge, if I feel it's worth my time. I could just hope the merchant won't pull any more money from me, before the card expires, but that's dangerous. Even if the card does expire though, and if the funds are denied to the merchant -- one trick they use sometimes is to add 2 or 3 years to the expiration date, then they resubmit the charge, and if there's a date match, their caper worked. If I call my financial institution, the merchant will have to pay a "dispute" fee, but I'm still out my time, and their fee is for only a small amount. Obviously in the long run, merchants come out ahead on the deal, or they wouldn't be doing it. Their financial institution receives added revenue from the dispute fees too -- so it's all win-win from their standpoint. But the customer loses their time and energy. The banking system does not put "online" customers in control of their funds. The deck is stacked in favor of the minority of merchants who abuse the system, and against their customers.

    There is another problem that's easy to overlook. If I contact my financial institution to dispute charges too frequently, they may put a sort-of red-flag on me, because it annoys them. This flag is analogous to a bad credit rating, as it damages my relationship with my financial institution. From their perspective, I've shown a history of dealing with too many flaky merchants. They may say I can call them anytime, and legally that's true, but they don't like being put out. My experience has been that smaller banks, are more likely to keep track of this type of thing.

    In rare cases an Internet order entry form will prompt for the name of the financial institution who issued the debit/credit card to me. Know that merchants are not required to have this information to submit their charges, so you might wonder why they're asking for it. On one occasion, after I had provided this information, and the typical debit/credit card details, the merchant clearly overcharged my debit/credit card. I have never encountered such a flagrant online ordering issue before. Despite my attempts to resolve the situation, they refused to adjust the charge to match their web site. In order to get my money back, I had to dispute the charge with my bank. The merchant then launched a scientology-like black PR campaign against me at my bank. Their campaign was effective too, and I ended up closing that bank account. From that point forward, my policy has been to; a) never provide the name of my financial institution, b) refuse to deal with any merchant that wants to know it, without exception. Amazing but true, this merchant embarks upon all of their customer relationships with an ill motive, they intentionally overcharged my debit/credit card, and even collected the name of my financial institution in advance, so they could use it later to launch a black PR campaign against me, just in case I wouldn't put up with their fraud. Incidentally, the web site was located within a close proximity of Clearwater, Florida, the home of many scientology organizations. And scientology is well know for their black PR assaults.

    Whether or not the name and address of the merchant appears on the web site, I always do an Internet "whois" to see who the domain name is registered to. Because it's my business to know who I'm dealing with. If they are located within a 50 mile radius of Clearwater, Florida -- I play the odds, by calling strike one. Sometimes I call the company, and engage in a short conversation, in an effort to determine if they speak scientology-eese, and if so, I politely say goodbye, but I won't deal with them.

    Any merchant who conceals the whois information for their domain name, by purchasing a "hidden whois" option from their registrar, automatically becomes a last resort. This depends on the importance of the product or service that I'm purchasing.

    Once I've given my card number out, the only way to prohibit flaky Internet merchants from pulling future funds from me is to cancel it, and order a new card, with a new number. But even in this case, the flaky merchant has put me in the position of having to fend them off. And whenever this happens, I always think about how screwed up the banking system is.

    Incidentally, I would never provide a checking account number to an Internet merchant. Because if they start playing games, it would be too much trouble to close down the old checking account, open up a new one, and have new checks printed up.

    Most people will allow their mortgage company to pull funds from their checking account. But do you really want to risk having flaky Internet merchants pulling unexpected amounts from the same account, and not finding out until it's too late? Missing a mortgage payment because of non-sufficient funds (NSF) can damage your credit. And like I said, you never know who the flakes are going to be, or when they're going to shaft you. But you do know that 20% of them are going to do it, sooner or later.

    In my case, the scientology-like black PR campaign, and the magazine fiasco were the final straws. After that I greatly reduced giving out long-term debit/credit card numbers to any Internet merchant.

    I do have a very workable SOLUTION though. What I do is purchase "gift cards" and have them mailed to myself. These are prepaid debit cards, and I use them for almost all of my Internet card purchases. Each gift card has a different card number, and that's the point, to keep the numbers changing. Cards are pre-loaded with a set amount of funds, which I specify when I order the card online. Once the funds are depleted, the card number expires. After that, if-and-when the merchant attempts to pull more funds from that card number, their charge is rejected. This puts the merchant in the position of having to contact me, to get a new card number in order for them to obtain future business, in which case they're much friendlier to deal with. To me gift cards are short-term, because I use up the funds within a few months. It's best to use them up quickly anyway, because after about 6 months, they begin applying monthly fees, and these continue on, until all the funds are used up. The purchase fee for gift cards, averages around 2% to 3% of the face value, it just depends on the amount. But they protect me against fraud, flakes and inconvenience. I have between 2 to 4 cards going at any time, it just depends. I really like using them, even though I realize that banks are just cashing in on their own incompetent system. As I phase out each card, there is always a minimal amount of funds remaining, which I use up at Starbucks or 7/11 stores. My financial institution gets to keep the last dollar or so.

    A NICE BENEFIT of gift cards is, they enable me to experiment with "unknown" merchants. Sometimes when I view an Internet web site, instinct tells me that there is a high probability of them being a flake. And I've learned the hard way, to not hand out long-term debit/credit card numbers unless my confidence level is very high. But the most money they can pull out of the debit gift card, are the funds remaining in it. Of course I can also dispute the charge if it's merited, but I never have. So now I can take higher risks, and "shoot from the hip". Doing this, every now and then I find a really great merchant, that I would never have found otherwise. This joyful experience more than makes up for the 2% to 3% that I pay for gift cards.

    In the US, gift cards can be ordered from or You can buy them elsewhere of course, but you do not need a checking account with either of these institutions, in order to purchase a gift card from them. In order to purchase a gift card online however, you do need a "real" long-term debit/credit card number from some institution. This is a rare case when I use a "real" long-term debit/credit card online, and I have never had any problems doing it. Both of these institutions use the same Internet service provider to process their gift cards. This provider is located in Florida, but thankfully it's on the Atlantic coast, not the Gulf. Still though, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the scientology "ethic" (or lack thereof) doesn't contaminate the gift card system. A few days after ordering the card, it shows up in the mail. After activating it, I can check the balance over the phone, or login on the Internet to list the transactions.

    The online visibility of gift card charges is usually instantaneous. Often I login and view the card details, then I order a product or service from a merchant in another browser window, next I switch back to the original gift card window, I click refresh my browser, and the online charge that I just made is already there. Instantly, 95% of the time. With most other cards, it takes 2-3 days before charges appear online.

    I realize that my methods are elaborate, but I buy a lot online, and this is the best way I know to deal with a banking system that's out of control. The fact is, there are many web sites where you just have to use a debit/credit card, and my method protects me from the 20% who are going to be flakes. And besides, of the remaining 80%, I really like being able find those great one-in-a-million merchants, who I wouldn't have risked dealing with, if I didn't have an elaborate system.

    Any merchant who accepts PayPal becomes my first choice, all other issues being equal. Because most PayPal merchants are configured on a case by case "push" basis. But even if a PayPal merchant requires a monthly "pull" of my funds -- I can list my "pull" merchants out at any time, and individually deny their ability to pull funds from me, ever again. Despite PayPals warts -- they have always put me in control of my finances. For Internet purchases, the typical debit/credit card financial institutions can't touch them. PayPal merchants comprise about 25% of my total online purchases. But all things being equal, these merchants uaually get the inside track with me.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2009