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[personal] Apple iTunes fail, US Bank fail, the rain of crap continues in drizzle mode - Lakeshore — LiveJournal
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Jay Lake
Date: 2010-04-24 14:34
Subject: [personal] Apple iTunes fail, US Bank fail, the rain of crap continues in drizzle mode
Security: Public
Tags:personal, tech, work
So thanks to some recent credit card number changes, my iTunes account was no longer charging correctly. A day or two ago I put my US Bank debit card number in. iTunes rejected the card as having a zip code mismatch. I've had this zip code since 2000, and this debit card since 2004, without changing anything.

As it happens, this occurred twice around the beginning of April, with two small merchants. Both called me back, we retried several times, then I gave them a credit number, after which I sent money from my checking account to the credit card issuer to cover the cost. At the time I called US Bank, who said that the debit transactions had come through and been authorized, with holds on my checking account. They said it was a "temporary" problem with the authorization process. I could see the holds in my online banking, as today I can see the holds for two small iTunes charges. Yet Apple doesn't show the charge in my purchase history, since they've been declined for the zip code error, which is evidence of fraud in a card-not-present transaction.

I know exactly what's going on here. In my Day Jobbe, I deal from time to time with merchant processors, which are the companies such as Chase Paymentech, who take the credit card numbers from business, validate available funds, and authorize the transactions. I actually understand something of the nuts and bolts of credit card processing, debit card processing, ACH processing, NACHA and CISP certifications, etc. Clearly whatever processor Apple's iTunes store is using, as well as the two small merchants I dealt with, has a data mismatch with US Bank's records. BN.com had no trouble with my debit card last week in an identical situation, so it's only one of the merchant processors, though of course I don't know which one since that part of the transactional process is transparent to consumers.

So I call US Bank for help, who tells me there's nothing they can do since the charges show as authorized. Fail. All they can do is "talk to the merchant." In fairness, they have launched a research request into the problem.

I tried to call Apple for help, per this note on the iTunes help Web site:

iTunes support

Guess what, they tell you phone support is available, but they don't provide any phone numbers. If you call the Apple Store phone number, it refers you back to the Web site. If you stay on the line insisting to talk to a person, it transfers you to eternal hold. (Slightly over 30 minutes as I write this.) Fail again. Though frankly, if I did get someone at Apple, I'm fairly sure there's nothing they could do about a merchant processor decline.

So I have a transaction that fails at the retail end, ties up my money at the banking end, and neither the retailer nor the bank can help me. Apple provides me with bogus help information on their Web site, something they really need to deal with as that is shit-poor customer service. Meanwhile, US Bank says it's out of their control.

Guess what, guys? I can't solve this problem. Even if I could identify which merchant processor is being used, they wouldn't take my call. I'm not a contracting party to the transaction between Apple and US Bank.

So my choices are not use my debit card for such transactions, which is retarded, or move all my banking to another institution, which is a hassle. But how the hell do I solve this?

Apple: fix your customer service info on the iTunes help site. It's not just misleading, it's flat wrong, and that tends to, you know, piss off your customers. Also, the transfer to eternal hold is deeply customer unfriendly.

US Bank: fix your merchant processor relationship or lose my business. I shouldn't have to chase something like this.

Universe: Please stop sending me shit, even in small packages like this one.

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gvdub
User: gvdub
Date: 2010-04-24 22:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Jay, sorry to hear about all the crap. To cheer you up, here's a link to a cake I found in a a custom cake shop in Little Ethiopia here in L.A. Enjoy. Wish the photo was a little better, but all I had with my was my iPhone.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-04-24 22:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I guess you'd have to eat that cake with milk... :p
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Andrew Trembley
User: bovil
Date: 2010-04-24 22:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Everyone thinks you're a freakin' socialist already, go ahead and move your money and accounts to a credit union.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-04-24 23:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Strongly considering that. I'm already a credit union member for some secondary banking needs. US Bank is incredibly convenient, however, as they are my employer's bank, and have branches/ATMs in Omaha, where I spend a lot of time when not on chemo. This is ridiculous, however.
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Dan/Дмитрий
User: icedrake
Date: 2010-04-25 01:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Question: How often do you need to take money out of the ATM while in Omaha? Is the frequency high enough that you'd notice the $2-$4 of service fees for using a foreign ATM? (as a bonus, plenty of credit unions don't charge you fees for using a foreign ATM -- only the ATM owner does)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-04-25 01:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's sometimes awfully useful to make deposits...
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Dan/Дмитрий
User: icedrake
Date: 2010-04-25 01:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There is that, yes.
My bank is small-town and small enough that I can't do that via the ATM anyway; guess it's been too long since I've seen modern civilization :)
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John
User: djonn
Date: 2010-04-25 04:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I don't have a lot of details, but I believe that there is an entity out there that's essentially a union of credit unions, whereby you can walk into a branch of Credit Union X and transact business involving your account with Credit Union Y, provided that both X and Y are members of the Collective. If your CU is in on this, and there are CUs in Omaha that are also in that network, that may solve that particular problem.
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Menolly
User: nolly
Date: 2010-04-26 20:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Most CUs I'm aware of are part of the CO-OP ATM network, and you can use any CO-OP ATM fee-free. This includes most other CUs, as well as the 7-11 Citibank ATMs. There's a downloadable GPS POI file on the website, IIRC, and also a number you can txt you location to to get the nearest one.
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Scott Raun
User: sraun
Date: 2010-04-25 15:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm not certain it would help?

I went through my own version of a similar hell these last two weeks. Gevalia asked for an authorization on my debit card on April 9th. They received it, the payment cleared on April 17th, and the hold was cleared. On April 16th, I noticed a hold that was exactly twice the value of my expected Gevalia shipment, and (since it hit my overdraft protection) got a hint that at least part of it was from Gevalia. Turns out that they asked for, and received, two separate authorizations on April 16th, for my shipment amount. Those two authorizations had to time out! The bank (actually the credit card provider for the bank) would only clear them if Gevalia notified them. Gevalia said 'we don't show this in our records, there's nothing we can do about it'. I went back and forth a couple of times between the various parties - it was an unpleasant experience.

I really need to decide if I want to keep the Gevalia account open. I haven't really been drinking the coffee to keep up with it.
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Kate Mulligan Wolfe
User: corasmama
Date: 2010-04-25 01:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This is very frustrating, and I don't have any answers. And I understand you're going through a lot, so this is mostly for those others who read it. Please don't use "retarded" as a pejorative. Thank you.
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barbarienne
User: barbarienne
Date: 2010-04-26 14:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Apple's stupid customer "support" is just as bad outside of iTunes.

Alas, I wish I could say it was Apple, but it is a problem with just about all large corporate businesses. (Is there a cable or phone company that has good customer service? Anywhere? Ever?)
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