When we got married, we ordered our invitations over the Internet from a company that seemed fairly reputable. Apparently, however, their ordering process was screwed up because we didn’t get the invitations until 6 weeks prior to the wedding. No big deal to some, perhaps, except that almost nobody was going to be local to the wedding location, and many people were going to have to book airline reservations. I asked the credit card company to stop payment to the vendor because of the late delivery.
Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal reports on a new service that vendors can use to spot consumers who stop payment through their credit cards. Sometimes consumers will stop payment when they have received products in time, and used them. This is particularly common this time of year, when lots of vendors sell lots of crap about which they know nothing. The consumer gets pissed off because they’ve just bought a no-good product, and the vendor gets pissed off, because they have to spend time fighting the consumer instead of selling.
The new service blocks consumers’ credit cards due to this so-called friendly fraud. In most cases, the consumer will likely have no idea why their card is being turned down, and will simply pay with cash (a vendor who accepts a different card from such a consumer would be stupid).
Is this the way things should be? Vendors are reporting credit card information to third parties without the consent of the consumer, and then that third party turns around and makes a profit on that information. The consumer is the loser for having availed himself or herself of her rights under the credit card agreement. What’s more, what is to stop a bad vendor from reporting a good customer? Who will have the last laugh?
Now some will say that a good customer can always fight, and the article does say that these new services often offer avenues of appeal. And I bet it will work not quite as well as credit agencies handle it. At least in those circumstances, there are laws.