Apple Debits Money From The Wrong Account, Now You Can't Pay Your Mortgage

Julie would really like to pay her mortgage, but she can’t. Why not? Because when she tried to help her son buy a MacBook, Apple decided to debit $1517.27 from her account without permission. When she called to tell them they’d pulled the money from the wrong card, causing her account to over draft, they apologized and told her they’d fix it. Instead, they debited another $186 from Julie’s account, and another $1517.27 from her son’s account.

Now Apple has over $3300 of their money and they can’t pay their bills. Here’s Julie’s letter to Steve Jobs, which she cc’d to us:

Dear Mr. Jobs:

My name is Julie [redacted]. I would like you to be aware of the disappointing experience my son and I have had with the recent purchase of a Mac Book. I currently own a Mac Book. I really love the Mac products. In addition to the Mac Book we own 5 I Pods. Based on my recommendations, my son, James [redacted], decided to purchase a Mac Book. His first computer. He needed some financial help in buying the computer so I helped him.

This is where my nightmare begins.

Late on July 30, 2007, we used two separate credit cards to make the purchase, total price $1942.15. $1743.15 was to be charged to one card xxx-[redacted] (James’s) and $199 on the second card xxxx-[redacted](mine). This is how we asked for the order to be paid. The order went through without a problem. The order number is: [redacted]

On 1 August 2007, I had a charge pending in my account from Apple for $186.67. I this was not the $199 I expected. The next day, 2 August 2007 I found that Apple had a pending charge of $1517.27 on my account. And that my bank account was charged an overdraft fee of $70.00 for this transaction from Apple.

Needless to say I was very upset. I am a single mother with 3 children and cannot afford to have mistakes made with my money. First, I have never over drafted my bank account, second I have to pay my mortgage and third my account now does not have enough money in it for me to pay my mortgage.

James called Apple on 2 August 2007 and spoke with two different people. The first person, Clint, stated he would process it correctly. Dissatisfied with Clint’s’ response James called back. The second person James spoke with was a supervisor named, Derek. Derek explained to James that they “could not verify the address for card xxxx-[redacted] so they charged card xxxx-[redacted] (mine) for $1517.27 and card xxxx-[redacted] (James) for $25.77 and $212.44. James explained Derek my situation, i.e. the overdraft fee and needing to pay my mortgage. Derek stated that he would credit my account/card xxxx-[redacted] for the $1517.27 plus $150.00 to over the overdraft fee, put another charge through for the $199 and correctly charge card xxxx-[redacted]. I would see this reflected in my account after midnight.

I thought that is fair. I understand mistakes happen, but it was straightened out.

On 3 August I found Apple had charged my account the $1517.27 and $186.67 (total of $1703.94). James’ account had also been charged an additional $1504.94, for total of 1743.15. So, now Apple has over $3300 of our money.
James again called Apple on 3 August and spoke with the “supervisor of the day”. James states her name was Christine or Kristen. He couldn’t remember which. Either way she told James, she saw where things were “pending” but it might take up to 5 days for me to receive the money in my account. I knew this wasn’t true. You can get people their money almost immediately. This was then evidenced to me when I received a credit to my account of $124.23 when I check my account on the 4th of August 2007. Didn’t have to wait 5 days.

I have absolutely no idea where this number comes from. $124.23?

Why couldn’t Apple correctly credit my account for the $1517.27 plus $150 (overdraft, Clint stated he would do) and deduct the correct $199?

It is now the 5th of August, my mortgage is late and my bank account is over drafted.

I don’t think I could ever fully express to you my anger and frustration.

The mistake made by Apple in this purchase has caused me and my son great heartache.

I wish you could have seen how excited he was when he was picking out his new computer on line and the order went through. Unfortunately the error and lack of Apple’s ability to correct it in a timely manner has tainted his joy of having his first computer.

I was planning on purchasing another Mac Book for my daughter Lauren, who needs a computer for college. She is going to be freshman at NC State on the 18th of August 2007. I don’t think given the response I have had so far from Apple this far that it would be a wise.

While I am pleased with the Apple product, I am also angered by what has happened and not sure I would recommend Apple in the future.

I would appreciate your prompt response to this issue. I can’t imagine that I will have to wait another 4 days to receive my money and be able to pay my mortgage.

I can be reached via email at [redacted], cell phone [redacted], or at work [redacted] (I work on August 6th 7a to 7p).

Sincerely:

Julie [redacted]

If Apple can refund $124.23 randomly, why not the rest of Julie’s money so that she can pay her mortgage? The foreclosure rate is bad enough these days without adding Julie to the stats!

Psst, not to make Julie’s bad day worse, but this sort of thing is why we recommend buying large electronics purchases with a credit card and not a debit card.

(Photo:What Rhymes With Nicole)

Comments

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  1. TWinter says:

    Uggg, this is why I don’t buy anything with a debit card.

    A couple of years back, two trips to the dentist in the same week. The idiot dentist ran a $120 charge as $1,200 and ran it through twice, so it was $2,400 instead of $120. And the second charge of $100 as $1,000, also run through twice, so $2,000 instead of $100. The credit card company called me because I don’t usually spend like that. I called the dentist, they said they would fix it, they didn’t, I called again, again they didn’t fix it. In the end, I had to dispute the whole damn thing with the cc company and the wrong amount plus duplicate charges thing made the dispute extra complicated and it drug out for three months.

    Now if that little scenario had happened with a debit card – $4,400 sucked out in one week and it took three months to solve – I would have been evicted and lost all of my utilities unless I had raided a retirement account or begged my parents to float me some cash for a bit.

  2. rbf2000 says:

    Having worked in retail, I can attest to the fact that while purchasing items hits your account almost instantly, refunds do take usually about 3 business days to “process.”

    I’m not sure if it’s because the place I worked (Circuit City) did refunds in batches, or if it was on the credit card company’s side, but there was nothing that we could do to speed up the process.

    This became problematic on several occasions where a customer would purchase something, return it for a refund, and then try to purchase something else the same day, only to realize that they were over their limit despite the fact that they just had a refund issued.

  3. Televiper says:

    I agree with using a credit card here. Kind of frightening that a company can make large unauthorized charges like that. Shouldn’t they have just called them and said “your card is bad.”

  4. bilge says:

    It’s situations like this one where I don’t understand the credit card haters.

  5. mopar_man says:

    A single mother of 3 with 5 iPods, and two $1500+ laptops and she didn’t have enough scratch to make her mortgage payments? I think somebody needs to rearrange her priorities.

    But getting back to the story, that is a pretty shitty deal with Apple. Hopefully ol’ Stevie can get everything squared away.

  6. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    Is it me, or does anyone else think there are more holes in this story than swiss cheese?

    First off, a bank (or CU) isn’t going to charge you an overdraft fee on a *pending* transaction. And often times the pending amount isn’t the true actual amount…they just “test” the account with an amount, and until it’s passed the “pending” stage onto an actual transaction, it may very well stay at that weird amount.

    Furthermore, I don’t know of any company who’s willing to refund the overdraft amount because of their own mistakes. But I might be improperly assuming here…I just don’t think any company will say “hey – we know we really screwed up. We’re going to take your word for it that you lost $150 because of our mistake.” They’re going to say “sorry – take it up with your bank”.

  7. Amy Alkon says:

    I feel for the woman, but if you’re a single mother with three children and your margins are that tight, what are you doing spending almost $2,000 on a computer? What happens if you get sick or there’s a financial emergency? Maybe I’m speculating wrongly and she has some float locked away, but while this is awful and unfortunate, part of protecting yourself is having a credit card to use in situations like this so charges can be easily reversed before your bill even comes due.

    Yes, bring the attacks on — but also consider living responsibly…because you want some item doesn’t mean it’s financially prudent to immediately have it…or to shell out big for it. Now maybe the kid has some reason he needs $2,000 worth of computer. Sale Mac laptops and refurbished ones can often be had for about $800. I’m a blogger and a syndicated columnist, and I write on a three-year-old iBook that’s just great, with a little extra memory from Fry’s, and it can probably be had these days for about $400 if you can find a used or refurbed one with a warranty.

  8. Mark 2000 says:

    Why is someone buying an expensive computer if they are having trouble paying the mortgage? As mush as I love Apple, if you have this little money stick with your old computer or get a cheap Dell.

  9. chalicechick says:

    On the “Why was a single monther buying a computer?” question, my guess is that James was in college and had enough for the computer her really wanted minues $200 so Julie decided to help him out.

    Lots of parents would do that, call off your dogs, y’all.

    And yeah, buying a $2000 computer for the kid going to college isn’t weird either.

  10. balthisar says:

    This doesn’t have anything to do with trouble paying the mortgage — that’s being rather presumptive and unfair to her. I myself would have trouble paying my mortgage if this crap happened without enough time to do an ACH transfer from my savings (different bank, high interest).

    As mentioned above, this is why I don’t screw around with debit cards, too. Carpet install company in my last house dinged me twice for the total, and that caused an overdraft fee. It took a few days to get credited back.

    @pinkbunnyslippers: in this case, they also credited back my overdraft fees due to their mistake, so it’s not without precedent.

  11. bilge says:

    “This is where my nightmare begins.”

    “I don’t think I could ever fully express to you my anger and frustration.”

    “The mistake made by Apple in this purchase has caused me and my son great heartache.”

    Are these sorts of statements good to put in complaint letters or are they overly dramatic? In the ones I’ve written, I just explain the situation and how I’d like it resolved.

  12. peggynature says:

    She was only giving her son $199 to cover the rest of the cost. He was paying the bulk of the price for the computer, not she. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect that, if you’ve agreed to pay $199 for something, you’ll end up charged for over $1500.

  13. DeeJayQueue says:

    ok guys, RTFA. She was only floating her son $199 for the computer. Apple couldn’t verify her son’s credit card, so they charged hers instead.

    @pinkbunnyslippers: Banks do charge overdraft fees on pending charges. When I was poor they used to do it to me all the time.

    This sucks for her and I really hope she can get a refund soon.

  14. AlisonAshleigh says:

    Oh, honestly. Everyones complaining about this woman buying a computer when her money is tight, and its not even the issue. Not only did she state her SON paid the bulk of it, but most people don’t have $3,300 in their bank account at any given time. Give her a break. Chances are, if apple hadn’t debited her account the WRONG AMOUNT to begin with, she wouldn’t have been hit with an overdraft fee. I think in the spirit of good customer service, Apple should at least discount the price of the computer enough to cover the overdraft fees, if she provides them with proof from the bank.

    Money was tight in my family growing up and I would have been thrilled if my mom had put a little aside to help me out with a big purchase. Chances are this kid is using it for school, and I hope they get everything straightened out.

  15. Msgundam84 says:

    Not to be an ass, but use some common sense. A simple converstaion with
    the bank manager would straighten out the mortgage mess and hopefully
    not impact your credit score and leave you homeless.

    However, Julie, you are a stupid bitch. I’m not poor, and I’m not
    rich….but it pisses me off to no end when the line at a retail store
    is getting huge because some bitch or some hobo wants to purchase
    something expensive and asks “$100 on this card, $200 on this card,
    $250 in cash, and the rest I’ll write a check for.”

    For whatever reason, paying like that is all the rage at department
    stores. Old farts barely surviving on social security go to JCpenny or
    Macy’s and use five two/three different accounts on a single purchase.

    If you didn’t make your order more complicated then needed, and if you
    didn’t keep so little money in your account, this wouldn’t have
    happened.
    AND WHY DO PEOPLE think it’s a good idea to have a debit card and
    make purchases when the account is tied to the one YOU PAY THE MORTGAGE
    FROM!?

    Stupid bitch. But Apple is also at fault. They should credit you the
    entire purchase, plus the overdraft fee, plus some money for the
    headache. Then take your business elsewhere. I know Circuit city and
    Best Buy would be more than happy to take your money; regardless of how
    many different places it may come from.

  16. Amy Alkon says:

    My mistake…with all the redacteds I didn’t read it correctly. Sorry about that.

  17. oudemia says:

    Yeah, RTFA. Julie agreed to pay $199 of the computer for her kid. Apple took it upon itself to charge her for the balance when they couldn’t verify the address of the second card.

  18. oudemia says:

    @Msgundam84: You’re a real charmer, aren’t you?

  19. Hawk07 says:

    There’s no reason you need a $2,000 machine for college.

    There are plenty of $500 machines out there that are more than adequate. Also, you save $1,500.

    At $500 a piece, you can get a new laptop each year and have four semi-decent machines vs. one top of the line computer from four years ago.

    I don’t know why people spend more than $600 on a computer unless they need it for gaming, graphics or calculation intensive apps. But for college purposes, anything at $500 would be more than adequate.

  20. Cowboys_fan says:

    That really sucks. I worked for a company that usually did take 5-7 days for a CC refund to process. I think its a combination of the time it takes us to process it, send to the bank or whoever, then they have to process. I’m not exactly sure though. We did pay overdraft fees for our errors, all the way up the line(ie – mortgage payment bounces -puts account into hole, then utility check bounces = more charges, etc.) They really do need to fix this, at no expense to the victim here. My bank has been really good waiving fees for cases like this, maybe try talking to them also.

  21. peggynature says:

    @MSGUNDAM84: Wow, she made a mistake by using a slightly-less-convenient form of transaction to pay for an expensive item, and now she’s a “stupid bitch” and it’s all her fault? You must be excessively pleasant to live with.

  22. chalicechick says:

    MSGundAM84,

    I want to know what bank you use. I can’t imagine mine being cool with “Yeah, I told Apple to charge one thing, but it charged a lot more. Can you float me $1500 bucks for my mortgage payment while they get that straightened out? Thanks…”

  23. jmschn says:

    First of all, 2K for a computer = rip off! 2nd, she used a debit card right? why would you spend 2K on a computer and NOT use a credit card that could possibly give you ANOTHER 1 year of warranty on top of the manufacturer’s!? Third, why not use a credit that gives rewards points or cash back?? Fourth, if she had the 2K to pay off the computer, why not put it on the CC for all the above reason because you theoretically have the money to pay it off when the bill comes! This is one of those cases where you have the foresight to take advantage of the situation and avoid a mess that the consumer should have realized. In any case, enough bagging on the consumer since we’re all supposed to band together right? So, i hope things work out for her…

  24. chalicechick says:

    @Msgundam84:

    Please, please tell us what bank you use and which branch. I want the bank where the manager is so understanding.

    “So, Apple charged you the wrong thing and you need me to get rid of all the charges and float you $1,500 for a mortgage payment until Apple gets it straightened out. Hey, no problem…”

    Does that sound like any bank manager you know?

  25. chalicechick says:

    Sorry for the double comment. I thought it had been eaten.

  26. Cowboys_fan says:

    @Hawk07: You have no idea what he’s taking incollege. What if its Computer Science PHD? Or Advertising? He’d need a good computer, I know I did. @Msgundam84: Too bad if you don’t like people putting payments on multiple cards. You make me want to do it MORE! People who can’t be patient for more than 5 mins piss me off to no end.

  27. bilge says:

    @Hawk07: What do you consider semi-decent? I’ve been trying to get a laptop on the cheap and keep coming out around $1000-$1200 when I’m done configuring.

  28. ColdNorth says:

    My family owns a medium-sized retail business and we do a fair amount of credit card transactions. What I can tell you is that charges hit a customer’s account almost immediately. Credits, however, can take days to post.

    Mind you, we process charges and credits nearly identically. We swipe the card (or manually enter it for a telephone transaction), select “credit” instead of “charge” and zappo. Our part of the process is over.

    Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop the occasional prima donna customer from making the aggrieved statement of “you guys are real quick at taking my money but sure are slow to give it back”.

    TAKE NOTE: It is all up to how the credit card processor handles it… not the merchant. They take the credits out of OUR account they day we send it!

    While I feel for Julie’s predicament, and while I agree that the Apple store could have called if there was a problem like a decline on her son’s card, she DID essentially cosign for this transaction. If you aren’t able to cosign for the whole transaction, you shouldn’t cosign for any of it. (Isn’t that what a cosigner does anyway? Don’t they personally guarantee a financial transaction in the event of a default by the primary participant?)

    Oh, and I agree about debit cards, too. They have all the risk and none of the benefits of a traditional credit card. If you’re using a debit card, why not just use a credit card and pay it off every month? Same financial result but with a nice little 30-day (or should I say 22-day) float and complete protection from mishaps like the one in this post.

  29. Msgundam84 says:

    Hmmm, I laid the bait and everyone bit.

    I go to Commerce Bank…in New Jersey. The manager at my branch has been very helpful in any problems I’ve had.

    Oh, and Cowboys-Fan….. if it was just five minutes I wouldn’t
    complain. But having granny running around the store in her ‘little
    rascal’ or ‘mobility scooter’ and then holding up the line for almost
    twenty minutes while the employee double-checks ID for the checks and
    calls the CC companies…..it get frustrating.

    Also doesn’t help that so many deptartment stores and retail stores hire dumb-as-bricks employees.

    OH….and before everyone gets on their high horse about me being born
    with a silver spoon and all that jazz…..I’m not rich…and I myself
    have worked in food and retail (several months at Subway and quite some
    time in a sporting good store). I quickly got items, helped customers,
    and rang up bills….but still got shit pay. The same shit pay as
    others who sat on their ass and smoked while they watch me work alone
    on a register with more than ten people in line.

    But I digress…..

  30. gtrgod says:

    Does it clearly state anywhere the sons card was a “credit” card or a “debit” card?

    If it was his debit card why didn’t he just either write his mom a check or transfer the money to her??(assuming they bank with the same institution)

    If it was his credit card….what mom on earth would think that letting her son, who’s going away to college and should be poor, put $1700 on his CREDIT CARD was a good idea??? only to spend all 4 years of college (or at least the next full summer) paying off this laptop?

    There are quite a few holes in this story…

  31. Hawk07 says:

    @bilge:

    It depends mainly on what you’re looking for. If you keep configuring them and they’re coming out as $1,000+ for your needs, then that’s what it might take.

    Over the summer, I’ve seen Office Depot, Office Max, Best Buy and CC advertising machines at roughly the $500 price mark. Sometimes even as low as $400-$450. They usually include at least an Intel Duo, 1 GB RAM, DVD writer, 80-120 GB Hard drive.

    If you’re just going to be using it for casual and small business purposes, a lot of the bargain machines will do just fine. And then when something breaks, or it goes out of warranty, you’ll have money left over to buy something newer and better. It’s just dumb to me for people to spend $2000-$3000 on a machine when the technologies are changing so fast and the competition in the lappy market is stiff.

    @Cowboys_fan:

    Like I said in my OP, if you need it for raw computing power, than it will call for a better machine. But all the $500 machines I’ve seen will cover the needs of a vast majority of college students and majors. There’s no need for mom and dad to be dropping $1,500-$2,000 on a machine anymore.

  32. Msgundam84 says:

    Oh—-and intelligence isn’t what really counts. It’s attitude.
    Regarless of how dumb employees may be, if they wanna help the
    customer…then everyone wins.

  33. chalicechick says:

    Have any of your problems at Commerce Bank involved the bank lending you $1500 until you get a misunderstanding straghtened out?

  34. ColdNorth says:

    @Msgundam84:

    Why resort to a personal attack on Julie. None of us really have all the facts and clearly, Julie is paying a personal price for this incident. Does she really need some armchair quarterback to add to her misery with such an uncouth and inappropriate flaming?

  35. chalicechick says:

    @Hawk07:

    Again, the $500 computer is fine for students with most majors. But we don’t know what they student in question’s major is, so we don’t know whether or not this student requires more computing power for whatever reason.

    That said, to say there’s “no reason” to buy a more powerful machine when there is a good and pretty obvious reason that might or might not apply, seems silly.

  36. Meg Marco says:

    Since the debate in the comments seems to be swirling around whether or not it was possible for Apple to refund money in a timely manner, I would just like to clarify that Julie has already seen a partial refund of 123.24 posted to her account, but is wondering what happened to the rest of her money. Sorry if I didn’t make that clear. Thanks!

  37. Televiper says:

    @Hawk07:

    The only reason a college kid needs a high PC is to play video games and impress his friends. I bet a high-end laptop is more powerful than most of the computers the computers they’ll find in the labs at school.

    It’s a moot point, most people are clueless about what they need anyway. That includes people with a strong understanding of computers.

  38. ncboxer says:

    People seem to be picking out little things to condemn the women- who cares that she used a debit card or doesn’t seem to have a lot of money in bank. The problem is that Apple took more money from her account than they should have and messed up repeatedly while trying to fix it. Who cares that her son was buying an expensive laptop, people are willing to pay extra for nicer computers (no Mac bias here, I have many PCs, and wouldn’t pay extra for a Mac).

    Yes, I agree- I personally would not have used a debit card, but some people don’t use credit cards because they know they can get into trouble with credit. She told them to only take 199 out of her account, of course she didn’t expect them to take a lot more. Why can’t they credit it right away? Who cares if they only normally process credits once a week (I don’t know their policy, just speculating because they said it takes 5 days to process), can’t they make an emergency exception and process hers right away.

    One thing that I would have done differently (besides not using a debit card) is write a check to the son for $199 and tell him to pay for it any way he likes.

  39. yosarian says:

    I used to work for Apple’s Executive Relations team and they will certainly resolve this issue. I wonder if Apple tried to confirm the address of the second debit card with the customer before putting the remaining amount on the first. Either way, it seems they screwed up when they charged the second amount. It’s a handy thing to have a website like this to help you out but I have to agree with other commentors that it’s even better not to set yourself up for a situation like this. Different banks handle “pending” charges differently – Julie’s apparently considers it already spent – so if there are two pending charges and one is destined to go away, she’s screwed. American Express (even the free one) – learn it, love it, live it. No “pending” charges and a free extended warranty.

  40. veraikon says:

    While Apple clearly needs to rectify this situation, I think this is a great example of how people choose luxury items over basics and necessities.

    I used to have a friend whose family insisted on leasing their vehicles (always 2 at a time) instead of buying. Their rationale (and I kid you not): “it’s nicer to have new cars.” And they were never content with leasing compacts or sedans. Oh no. Always vans and SUVs for them!

    And then on day my friend’s dad came down with a mysterious illness, had to quit his job and slowly descended into madness. The family’s financial problems became common gossip around town. The parents eventually divorced and the family scattered to the four winds. But hey, at least they had nice cars while it lasted!

  41. Charles Duffy says:

    @Hawk07: One top-of-the-line laptop from four years ago has a better screen than a single entry-level laptop from today — and when I’m buying laptops, the screen is what I care about.

    (More code and more windows at once => less scrolling around to see reference material while I’m working => more productivity; I use ion to maximize that further)

  42. ArtDonovansDrunkenLovechild says:

    This question may seem simplistic, but when she noticed that they charged her account why didnt she immediately have her son cut her a check for the amount. Should would have been stuck with the overdraft amount (which stinks I realize) but then she would have been able to cover the mortgage.

    Instead she tried to orchestrate a complicated refund/recharge with apple that STILL wouldnt have covered the overdraft and instead hit her for more money.

  43. Wormfather says:

    That’s apple for you, it just works, even against you.

  44. Charles Duffy says:

    @Msgundam84: You mean that she should request help from the bank that holds the mortgage, not the one that holds the checking account — right?

    If the folks servicing your mortgage are feeling reasonably willing to help (and your record is good), they typically will agree to allow some extra time for payment. I don’t know what the bank holding the checking account could be expected to do, other than attempting to reverse the debit transaction (which is best left to Apple’s Executive Customer Service at this point), and that’s not exactly an instantaneous process (the bank has to get their money back before they’ll give it to you).

  45. Televiper says:

    @ArtDonovansDrunkenLovechild:

    Well, instead they called up Apple, and Apple said they would fix it. It’s really not a complicated refund system. Refund both accounts, and charge them again. Apple is clearly at fault, and Apple should be taking steps to rectify it.

  46. Hanke says:

    @pinkbunnyslippers:
    I had this happen to me with GEICO (NYS Law changed, and my rates rose unexpectedly), and they not only sent me a check to refund their fee for not having enough funds to cover the xfer, they also refunded me the charge from the bank being overdrawn.

  47. zeroraveson says:

    What’s wrong with letting the kid put $1500 on his credit card if he has the money to pay it off when he gets the bill?

    When I went to college, I did the exact same thing. Plus, if the school requires a computer (as mine did) you can use general use scholarships to help pay for it.

  48. Chaosium says:

    @Msgundam84: Boy are you not grounded in reality. There’s no way that mistake was worth thousands of dollars in trouble.

  49. junkmail says:

    Wow, the level of intelligence on Consumerist has fallen dramatically. What happened?

    And Msgundam84, you’re pretty much the textbook definition of ‘Troll’*. Please find somewhere else to play.

    *[en.wikipedia.org]

  50. rbb says:

    She never should have used her debit card directly in this transaction. A simpler solution would have been for her to go online and buy a $200 gift card for her son using a real credit card and not a debit card. Then he goes online and uses his own credit card and the gift card.

    Using debit cards for phone/online transactions is like playing with fire…

  51. rbb says:

    To clarify my comments – I should have said a debit/credit card directly tied to a bank account. Using it either way will immediately lock up the money in the account. A “real” credit card in my book is one that you pay off every month or accrue interest charges.

  52. supra606 says:

    Obviously Apple messed up here and hopefully that will be taken care of. That said, I think there are lessons to be learned here about financial responsibility, like not using debit cards to make large purchases, having an emergency fund, and not overspending on a computer and other technology in the first place (if she’s a single parent with three kids and tight finances what is she doing with 5 ipods and an overpriced computer of her own, and encouraging her son who will likely have very little money in college to spend his money the same way?!?).

  53. mermaidshoes says:

    the problem here seems to be that this woman doesn’t understand the difference between credit cards, debit cards, and bank accounts. she says specifically in her letter that “we used two separate CREDIT CARDS to make the purchase” (caps added). if this is true, apple would have had no way to actually debit her bank account. i think this woman has more problems (financial and otherwise) than apple can be held responsible for.

    also, this is just another reason not to use two forms of payment for one purchase. if she had just deposited $200 in her son’s bank account directly, all this could have been avoided. and not to add to the chorus of naysayers, but i would never spend ALL of my savings on a computer. if you’re really hurting for an extra $200, maybe you oughta consider a dell.

    also also (double also! woo!), apple is notorious for putting crazy-ass authorization holds on credit/debit cards, so that’s yet another reason to only use credit cards when ordering from them–especially if your bank account is real tight. i can’t tell you how many people contacted us about getting $30 overdraft fees for 99 cent song purchases when i worked for itunes. IMHO, you shouldn’t be wasting your money on itunes music if you can’t cover a $1 authorization hold on your bank account, but that’s kind of beside the point. credit cards are your friend.

  54. Cowboys_fan says:

    Who really cares why she bought the computer, who cares how she paid for it, these arguements are pointless. Whats so wrong with buying a computer for your child, thats a pretty high priority for alot of people. She knew how much money she had, and how can some people blame her for not using CC? I don’t use them, I have no need.

  55. gtrgod says:

    @ ZERORAVESON…There is nothing wrong with letting him put $1700 (not $1500) on his credit card if he in fact has the money.

    As i said this story has lots of holes….If he had the money available, why didn’t he just pay his mom back? and then let her fight it out over the overdraft fees.

    I’m starting to think he didn’t have the money….the $1700 was just his limit on his CC.

  56. MMD says:

    Apple made an erroneous charge on my credit card awhile back. It wasn’t a ridiculous amount – something like $40. But it took months to iron out. I was promised that the mistake would be fixed immediately, but it wasn’t. When I called back, I was told that they only process refunds in batches and it could be several more weeks before they got to mine. I asked the rep why I should be paying interest on their mistake – unsurprisingly, they didn’t have a good answer for that one. That’s when I disputed the charge on my card. Here’s hoping this situation gets resolved more quickly!

    Note to The Powers That Be: MSGUNDAM84′s comments further illustrate the need for comment moderation. Wasn’t that supposed to be coming soon?

  57. queen_elvis says:

    FWIW, I had the IRS suck money out of my checking account without authorization a few years ago. (I authorized a partial payment; they took the whole thing.) I called my bank and complained, they refunded the money, and this was one of the banks that gets excorciated (for good cause) around here. So I’m sure that a less sucky bank would do the same thing. In fact, I don’t use eBay, but I think chargebacks happen all the time among disgruntled eBay/PayPal customers.

  58. Buran says:

    @ColdNorth: No kidding. Even though this was the merchant’s fuckup, it’s also entirely her fault for buying something people think she shouldn’t.

    Hey. We’re not her. We don’t know the whole situation.

    SHUT UP and have a heart. What if it’s you idiot flamers in a fix next time? You’ll want some sympathy, right? How would you feel if everyone figured out a way to make it YOUR FAULT even when it wasn’t?

  59. synergy says:

    Uh, if she didn’t plan on paying for the entire computer why did she give them her card info?

    If they couldn’t verify the son’s card (I’m assuming because she was on the phone and not him), why didn’t she get him to call them himself? He IS an adult, is he not?

    If she was only giving him some $200 towards the total, she should’ve done a bank transfer to his account and had him call for his own stuff.

    All that aside, yeah one or the other of them should’ve used a credit card.

  60. ingridc says:

    Every time I see a complaint letter on Consumerist, I’ve started to play “guess what the commenters are going to jump down the throat of the OP for this time”. It’s getting kind of ridiculous. Mortgage payment or not, I think it’s fair to be upset that your account was charged $1500 more than it was supposed to be. Instead the comments become, “She has poor money management skills”… “What’s she doing spending money when she has a mortgage?”… “She’s being overdramatic”… “She’s a moron for splitting the charge”. It would have been smarter to put it on a credit card rather than debit, but must we get degrade single poster on Consumerist?

    @Msgundam84: Man, I just love this. Every time a poster starts their post with “Not to be an ass…” you know it’s about to hit the fan.

    Please, by all means, explain how calling a stranger a “bitch” three times (adding “stupid” twice) makes you NOT an ass. The OP didn’t say anything resembling “$100 on this card, $200 on this card, $250 in cash, and the rest I’ll write a check for.” She asked for it on two cards. NOT DIFFICULT. I’ve worked in retail for years and it takes about 60 more seconds to put it on separate cards.

    Now run along and troll elsewhere. And I’m totally with MMD… comment moderation please?

  61. metalhaze says:

    You made a payment on a computer knowing you would barely had money to make your mortgage payment and you used a debit card??!!

    You are just asking for problems…

    What if something else in your life came up? Car trouble, or you found yourself sick and in the hospital, or anything like that. A computer is a luxury not a necessity. And 1700 for laptop is definitely a luxury purchase. You choose to put luxury before your other duties and bills and this is the gamble you take. You should have bought the computer after you paid the mortgage.

    This is half apple’s fault and half poor planning and money management on this woman’s half.

    Sorry for the jaded response, but I can only care so much about someone who willingly forces a luxury purchase for something during a point where money was tight and knew full well that a mortgage payment was in the near future.

  62. ingridc says:

    @metalhaze: She was not “asking for problems” when she requested a small amount of the charge to her account. If you read correctly, she asked for $199 on her own account, and her son paid for the other $1500+. Instead she was erroneously charged $1500 more than she should have been. Had she not been overcharged, she would have had plenty of money in her account for her mortgage payment and then some.

  63. The Walking Eye says:

    @metalhaze: How exactly is Apple making a $1500 charge to her account when all she wanted was $200 taken out her fault?

    It’s back to school time, and maybe money’s tight for the time being as she’s buying stuff for all three kids.

    Again, she approved $200 being taken out, and $1500+ was. How in the fuck is this her fault?

  64. Dan25 says:

    why not just file an ACH dispute with your bank?

  65. rcsfca says:

    Big purchases like these should be made on credit card and not a debit card.

  66. jbalsle says:

    I have to agree with the folks saying that the lady’s method of payment shouldn’t have mattered. This was a matter of trust between Apple, her son, and her. Yes, she could have bought her son a $200 gift card (and spent the gift card fee), or transfered $200 to his account by check or wire or direct deposit of cash (and spent the money for wire, the time for a check to clear, or the hassle of moving cash from one bank to the other). But she figured, quite reasonably, that when the sales person rang up the charges on the two cards, she would be debited $200 and her son debited the rest.

    Naive? Possibly. Unreasonable to expect? Hell no. I always expect that if I sign for $200, that’s how much I’m going to be charged. And having some sanctimonious jerk telling me ‘you should have had more in your bank’ to cover for Apple’s screwup just annoys the hell out of me.

    $1900 is a large sum for all but the richest of us, doubly so when it’s not budgetted. She budgetted for $200, not $1900. Had Apple done the right thing, she’d have her mortgage amount plus whatever was left. As it is, she’s got negatives in her account, not because she spent more than she had, but because Apple took out more than they were entitled. And on top of that, what’s worse is that they stuck her son for $1700, so now they’ve got $3,600 of hers and her son’s money for a product that only cost $1900.

    Bottom line? Apple was what f*cked this up. Had they done a simple courtesy call, this could have been all averted. But for want of a dime and 5 minutes of somebody’s time, Apple’s having to give up $150 of their money and the woman got fraudulently charged $1700 (she didn’t authorize that charge, so by all rights, she could scream fraud).

  67. velocipenguin says:

    @Hawk07:

    There are many perfectly valid reasons to buy a more expensive laptop for a college student. Total cost of ownership is often much lower with better-quality computers; this is especially true for laptops. Furthermore, depending on one’s major, a powerful computer may be necessary for coursework. Try running Solidworks on a 3-year-old bottom-of-the-line laptop and see if you still think it’s foolish to buy the right machine for your needs.

  68. CumaeanSibyl says:

    And once again, we see that being judgmental is more fun than silly things like reading.

  69. hypnotik_jello says:

    It took way too long for the victim haters to come out

  70. Dan25 says:

    @Dan25: If it was done on a Debit card she can file a Regulation E claim and have the money put back into her account within a day or two. Why hasn’t she contacted her bank about this?

  71. YokoOno says:

    Wow, there are some real class acts around here. I can’t believe some of you people.

    Julie, I hope it all gets worked out. I sympathize.

  72. Meg Marco says:

    For those who were asking, we editors hear your concerns about comment moderation and will be addressing them as a group when Ben returns from vacation. Yes, we are all paying attention to what goes on in these threads until then.

    Please feel free to share your concerns with me at marco [at] consumerist.com, I’m very interested in hearing your thoughts.

  73. Crazytree says:

    “I am a single mother with 3 children and cannot afford to have mistakes made with my money.”

    I can, however, afford two Macbooks and 5 iPods.

  74. Taiyoryu says:

    Apple is at fault. They ran a charge that was not approved by the card holder. A courtesy call would have been in order. There’s a reason you provide retailers with your contact information (and it’s not so that you can receive product offers at dinner time).

    Julie of course had numerous methods to prevent this situation (many already suggested by other people), but she trusted Apple to do the right thing the first time. The wisdom of her purchase decision given her tight budget is irrelevant whether it was for $200 or $2000. That is a wholly separate issue.

    However, we’re past the point of prevention and dealing with damage control. There should be a means to dispute the charge, but unfortunately with debit cards the money is already gone and she’ll have to wait on a refund. The bad news is that she’s late on her mortgage payment.

    One method that could have prevented this which has not been mentioned yet, is to use a virtual credit card number. It has a short expiry period and you even have the option of limiting the charge amount.

    If Apple is smart about how to handle the situation, they’d refund the correct amount plus the fees Julie assessed because of Apple’s poor billing. How they handle the situation in terms of policy changes is up to them, but I would suggest that they train their sales staff that orders should be put on hold should a billing problem arise and that a customer be contacted to rectify the problem. Julie should hopefully learn to treat her debit card with more respect and understand its pros and cons.

  75. TMurphy says:

    While on the topic of moderation: This post’s comments brilliantly display commenters’ ability to rehash the same 5 things on what should have been done in this situation, and argue how it is or isn’t the consumer’s fault. Maybe a list should be tacked onto the end of the post and updated with points, tips, do’s and don’ts relating to the article or complaint, and it can be understood that they are recommended precautions, not tirades against the consumer’s intelligence.

    Or, if we don’t like that kind of organization and maintenance, at least people can understand that, even if someone my rudely be blaming the consumer for something, the point may be a valid precaution, no matter whose fault it is.

  76. Not sure why people are jumping on her case… She was only agreeing to put a 199$ charge on her card. I bet 99% of us would be screwed if what we believed to be a 200$ charge turned into a 1500+ charge. As a college-age male, I can attest that, unfortunately, my finances usually only leaves a few hundred to spare here and there. If I got hit with a 1500$ debt on something that should have cost 200$ I’d be S.O.L. Most people here are probably the same. I mean, half of America is a paycheck or two away from homelessness.
    SHAME on anyone to blaim her or point to her spending habits. Yes it would be ridiculous IF she was buying a laptop and budgeting for her mortage and somehow messed up, but the clear party to blaim here is squarely APPLE.


    as for you, Msgundam84: You seriously think a bank would float you 1500? SERIOUSLY? I practically have to toss a salad to get a 30$ overcharge taken off my account. For some odd reason I smell teen angst. Or maybe it’s early-twenties angst. But it’s stinky none the less.

  77. drchaps says:

    As a former billing manager, it really is just as immediate to do a refund as it is to do a credit card charge. Yes sometimes it does not show up right away depending on float times for banks or depending on if its clearing a bank after 5pm eastern, but otherwise its right away.

    Many times its a company’s internal processes that prevent a refund from going out right away. Some customers are habitual about returning goods and are flagged by some retailers. Others ask for refunds in a check form rather than a simple return to their debit or credit card.

    As a personal policy running a billing department, if its our fault, we refund the overdraft too. It’s all going to depend on the ethical code the company has.

    Good luck… Apple seems like a good company and should fix this issue. Next time you need a laptop and this may happen, you do know Windows laptops are about half right? :)

  78. drjayphd says:

    @Crazytree: I realize it’s tempting to just hit “End” and go right to the comment box, but if you’d read the first, oh, couple of paragraphs, you’d know that the son was picking up most of the tab on his shiny new laptop. As for the iPods, uh, maybe they budgeted for them over however long, or maybe the kids kicked in, and she didn’t just buy as many 80GB iPods as she could carry? Just a thought, as the comment was most likely thrown in to illustrate brand loyalty, not to reflect on irresponsible spending.

  79. trekkie says:

    While yes, Apple boo-boo’ed and was willing to fix it there are a few things the person affected should know.

    Regardless of what happens, a credit card company WILL NOT instantly refund an authorization. I believe it holds auto-matically for 7 days, that may have dropped since I used to work in retail (been a long while) but if you authorize a card, and cancel the charge, the authorization will stick for some time.

    Second, wasn’t there another option besides trying to charge two cards? That is always confusing to the order entry systems out there a lot of them aren’t used to doing it. A simple mistake like maybe the son’s card was over the daily spending limit (if it was a debit card) so it fails, so by default it’s gonna go to the remaining payment – hers

    I’m sure the people questioning the overdraft charges probably don’t realize that yes it puts a hold, and you dont’ get an overdraft, but if other checks/debits come in while the hold is on, and then the hold goes through as a charge -bang, OD charges.

  80. bigshowdj says:

    No question that Apple made a mistake (and with a debit card that mistake is a lot worse than with a credit card).

    The good news is that she isn’t “late” on her mortgage until her payment is more than 15 days late. She won’t find her credit harmed at all until she has 2 payments due at once on the 1st of the next month.

  81. MonkeySwitch says:

    Hey, just in case Steve doesn’t get through to this e-mail in a timely matter, I sent my e-mail to the following addresses (pulled from a list of Apple PR representatives) and had my phone call within two business days

    katiec@apple.com
    dowling@apple.com,
    lfox@apple.com,
    anuj@apple.com

    I don’t remember the site (on apple.com) or what exact departments these people are in, but she is bound to get an answer none the less.

  82. Solo says:

    Next time I suggest walking to the ATM, swallowing the $1.5 and squeezing out 2 bennies out of the metal teller.

    That will save a lot of trouble.

    In other news, a lot of people do transactions using their debit cards. My experience teaches me that they always hand out a receipt. And I have learned to double check the amount paid. $12.56 =/= $1,256.00. That saves a lot of trouble too when you catch it right away.

    But hey, this is how we learn things: pain is good. It’s not likely to happen a second time. And now I’ll remember to use my trusty credit card. An extra layer of protection.

  83. gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

    Here’s a thought too, I don’t think she asked any off us how we felt about her son buying a 2000 dollar computer and her helping him pay for 200 dollars of it. She is simply stating her frustrations with Apple, stating the issues their excessive payment withdrawals have caused, and she is soliciting advice on how to deal with the situation while also venting. Nowhere in the above post or letter do I see anything that says hey fellow consumerists be asses and focus on everything except the actual issue. Oh yeh, and who gave any of us the right to judge other’s financial situations? I’ll bet anything at least half the people in here, me included, have much less than stellar credit. So shush with your judging and snarky comments and give advice if you have anything that might actually be helpful or constructive.

  84. mercnet says:

    Some majors require different types of computers. At Virginia Tech, last year’s incoming freshmen engineers were required to buy tablet pc’s while art majors are required to buy apple pc’s. So there’s no point in saying, should have gotten a $500 Dell.

    Could she possibly go to an Apple Store to get this problem fixed?

  85. theDevilsDue says:

    @PINKBUNNYSLIPPERS

    I was charged overdraft fees by my bank for a pending transaction. The bank “paid” the “pending” transaction by placing a hold on my funds for the amount of the pending transaction. When four checks came through the same day as my direct deposit, the checks bounced, I was charged $160 in fees, the direct deposit went through, the fees were deducted, and then the checks and pending transaction were paid. After a phone call and much comlaining, the fees were refunded. If I hadn’t called, they would not have been.

    @ MSGUNDAM84

    Why have a debit card if you can’t use the fucking thing? I guess you could do the smart thing and have multiple accounts and pay multiple fees…fucking tard.

  86. I_can_still_pitch says:

    @Msgundam84: do we need this kind of person on this site? Honestly.

  87. ingridc says:

    YAY!! Msgundam84 has been banned! Keep up the good work, mods.

  88. swvaboy says:

    So long MSGUNDAM84, you will not be missed.

    I also work in a business where credits are issued, it is up to the bank/credit card company as to when it is returned to the account. I have had customers calling everyday about a credit that had been issued, but was still pending at their bank.

    I also have used multiple cards to pay for things, and not for the reasons stated. I do it for the points or bonus that the card gives. If I get X extra points for using my MC and AMEX , then I split the purchase and get the points from both. I also pay the balances in full each month, the credit card companies do not like it, but hey they work the system so why can’t I.