Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Credit Card Follies: My sole telephone is an old T-mobile pay-as-you-go job. It doesn't have a touch screen. It doesn't browse the web. It doesn't play music. It doesn't have a camera. It allows me to make calls easily and text message people very awkwardly. I buy prepaid cards -- 1000 minutes for $100, which last me about a year. So imagine my surprise when I saw a charge from for $81.82 on my credit card.

After a solid hour in responding to automated questions, listening to hold music, and speaking with reps who can't figure out where the charge came from, they finally left me with, "You are going to have to dispute that through your credit card issuer." Amazing. A dispute from the card company costs them a charge of some sort, but apparently they would rather incur that than do the leg work. What a very strange company.

But that's easy to deal with. At least T-mobile is an actual valid business concern, however illogical their system is. And it took me all of three minutes with a polite, English-speaking rep at U.S. Bank to dispute the charge. Worse is a company that variously goes by the name of Reservation Rewards or WLI*Reservations or something like that. They had dinged my card for $10 for 4 straight months before I caught on. Stated plainly these people are known scammers.

I called their customer service to ask what the hell was going on, and I got a sales pitch. That's right, they are so certain that you are calling about why you are getting billed that they immediately throw you into a sales pitch for a product you supposedly already bought.

They claimed that I signed up for their subscription on-line when I placed an order for tickets from some ticketing site. No, I didn't. In fact I don't even remember ordering any tickets online. I am not so deeply in the throes of Alzheimer's that I would approve a subscription on line without realizing I did. I started asking probing questions about how they got my credit card number. The woman immediately offered to cancel my subscription.

Maybe that's the ploy, the get you for a small charge or two and when you call to complain, they cancel your subscription, but pocket what you've paid so far. I pressured her for a full credit and she gave in. We'll see if I actually get it. If I don't, it's yet another bunch of charges to dispute. Scammers like this deserve to horsewhipped. They pray on the meek who will let small charges slide to avoid confrontation. Scum, pure scum.

By the way, if you happen to be a Reservation Rewards employee, I realize that you probably just answered an ad in the paper and you are just doing your job as your employer wants. My advice to you is to find another job and get out of there as soon as you can. However honest you may be, working for dirtbag scam outfit like that will scorch your soul.

Anyway, just in case you find yourself with charges from "Reservation Rewards" or some variation of that, call their customer service and you will likely get out of it. Make sure you tell them you never heard of them and have no idea what they are talking about when they claim you subscribed. Hint at credit card fraud by saying things like, "I don't understand. Some web site gave you my credit card number without my permission?" Tell them if they don't issue you a credit, you'll dispute the charges through your card company (if they lose the dispute, the credit card company charges them a fee).

If you have more trouble, Google "reservation rewards" and it will turn up a number of consumer oriented sites that can give more info about the scam.

Bastards. They should be skinned.