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Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, April 23, 2010

Recharged and Re-charged

Two busy weeks raised my cash flow back above the waterline. And not a moment too soon, because the dread Chargeback Defender just re-debited the refunded money that they had first debited back in February. Naturally, they’re charging me another $25 for the service. Emails from the Chargeback Defender tie my stomach in knots.

Their emails and web interface are both unintelligible, so I asked a customer service person to translate. Here’s what she told me:

“The first chargeback in the amount of $144.54 was the first initial chargeback from this customer. You disputed this sale and won the case. However when the merchant wins the chargeback case, the customer still has one more chance to dispute the sale. If they decide to dispute again, this comes in as a 2nd chargeback.

“The 2nd chargeback in the amount of $149.43 is the 2nd chargeback coming in from this customer. The reason why the amount was increased is due to the exchange rates. This credit card is outside of the United States.

“The Chargeback Department informed me that they sent out the paperwork and information to you today so you should receive that by early next week. The representative told me that this sale could not be disputed again and that the funds will be given to the customer. I would strongly suggest to call the Chargeback Department once you receive the information in the postal mail to confirm if this can be disputed by you or not.”

Umm…wait a minute. If the cardholder has the final word, why do they even have a dispute process in the first place? I banged out this reply:

“I don't intend to dispute it again. Every time one of these comes back, I get charged another $25. The bank has taken almost as much money in penalties as the thief stole from us ($125 now).

“Neither the cardholder nor the merchant (me) was at fault in this transaction; the card was apparently stolen by a third party in Malaysia, to whom the merchandise was delivered. But it looks like the merchant gets stuck holding the bag even though the bank authorized the transaction.

“I've already proven that we filled the order properly and the shipment was delivered -- albeit to a thief, not to the actual cardholder. The real culprit is the bank that authorized this transaction despite neither the name nor the address matching the cardholder's -- CDGCommerce or Quantum Gateway. The fact that they not only don't absorb the loss, but can charge me $25 on top of it, is very hard to swallow.”

I don’t expect the nice customer service lady to answer my cry of frustration, but it was just yesterday so we’ll see. The appropriate response would be for the bank (with infinitely deeper pockets than mine) to bear the consequences of its own authorization failure and refund the sale, or the fees, or both. Or at least apologize for life being unfair.

Well. (Deep breaths, Ken.) At least the third and smallest chargeback, from Discover, disappeared from the list entirely without ever generating any followup communication. I hope that’s good news and not just another web interface failure. After three months they must be approaching their own statute of limitations.

Sales have been good enough to stymie my bank’s efforts at sinking me. All 48 of the 5-LED Panther Vision camo caps that were backordered from last November sold within two weeks. I’ve already topped my April plan with more than a week left in the month. The top-line numbers that I’ll share next week will look great. The bottom line? Not so much.

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