If you buy airline tickets on Craigslist, you could find yourself paying for the tickets twice, thanks to this latest scam. Elliot blogs the story of a William Marleua, who who bought Southwest airline tickets from someone on Craigslist. Four months after taking the flight, a Southwest collections specialist called him and told him to pay up. Turns out the original tickets were bought using a stolen credit card, and then the real owner of the credit card disputed the charge. Here’s what Southwest said about the situation, “Southwest has never been paid for the flight Mr. Marleau took. It is our business policy to collect payment from the person who flew….It’s a difficult situation, but we cannot protect a customer who chooses to make a questionable purchase on Craigslist for a Southwest Airlines flight.”
When reader Steve went to Wal-Mart to buy Rock Star for his daughter, he reluctantly presented the cashier with a state issued ID containing just his picture, name and signature. Steve’s job is to consult with law enforcement about identity theft, so he’s more careful than the average bear.
Bad Consumer Smith finally paid off her American Express Optima card after 14 years, but couldn’t believe that Amex tacked on a $0.19 finance charge to her last bill. Smith summoned her lesser angels to work out a fitting response. Here’s what she came up with:
I sent AmEx two checks for a penny each, one for two cents, two for three cents, one for four cents, and one for a nickel.
Bally Cashes Cancellation Check, Continues To Bill For 15 More Months, And Now Demands "Past Due" Payment
Ashoka just found out that Bally never canceled his membership, even though they cashed his $50 cancellation check a mere 5 days after he mailed it to them last year. They’ve said there was no date on the paperwork, but Ashoka has a printout that proves otherwise. And they said they tried to contact him last year about the “problem,” but not by phone—even though they called him promptly this month when he changed his credit card info and the automatic billing didn’t go through. Bally, just admit it: nobody gets out, ever.
Last week’s news that the Westin Casuarina hotel in Las Vegas was surreptitiously charging conference attendees for the organizer’s unpaid bill generated enough bad press that the Westin did an about-face this week, and sent out letters on Tuesday telling affected customers it is reversing the extra charges. A Westin spokesman said, “We’ve decided as a matter of customer relations to issue the refunds while continuing to pursue payment from The Coaching Center” in Austin, Texas. The Westin also says the refunds are an “effort to show our good faith,” which we assume means “please don’t sue us.”
Next time you brush past your credit limit you may get hit with more than a hefty over-the-limit fee. The Red Tape Chronicles reports that credit card companies are starting to slap exuberant spenders with penalty interest rates. Compounding the danger to consumers, creditors are simultaneously rushing to slash credit limits.
Dan sent us this pic he snapped in a local Kmart and writes, “I remember a previous post on a Wal-Mart card that offered a 2-liter bottle, but I guess inflation caught up with big K as they are only offering 20-oz.”
Gordon Biersch, a small chain of brewery-restaurants, stole a penny from our reader. Consumerist “Punkrawka” used a credit card to hold open a tab at the bar, then closed the with a gift card. Gordon Biersch then passed a one-cent charge onto our reader’s credit card a few days later. More funny than anything else, the bizarre details, inside…
The amount of new consumer debt is increasing more slowly than in previous months, growing only $5.2 billion in February, says Bloomberg. It sounds like a lot of money, but it’s a much slower rate of growth than the $10.3 billion increase in consumer credit seen in January.
Redbox rents DVD movies via vending machine in drugstores and supermarkets throughout the country, and on Friday they announced that they’d found credit card skimmers attached to three of their kiosks. What’s surprising is that they ‘fessed up so quickly, and in a highly public manner—they’ve got the text “SECURITY ALERT” at the top and bottom of their website, and the email they sent to their members is detailed, forthright, and helpful, and reposted in its entirety—along with photos of sample card skimmers—on their site. Attempts at identity theft no longer surprise us, but a competent handling of the issue by a company is pretty amazing.
Defunct budget airline Skybus plans to issue full refunds to all ticket holders. The airline announced last night that they were done flying less than two weeks after former CEO Bill Diffenderffer quit to pursue a book-writing career. While everyone who hasn’t yet traveled will soon be reunited with their cash, what about passengers who are in the middle of a trip? Let’s ask Air Force Sergeant Gary Patterson.
An up-to-date list of credit cards with reward-point incentives for signing up. [Blueprint For Financial Prosperity]
From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Advance Auto said a computer hacker may have gotten financial information of up to 56,000 customers at 14 stores in Virginia and seven other states. The Roanoke company said the customers shopped at the 14 stores from December 2001 to December 2004.
Why would a company have customer info on file for so long? I found one credit card processor’s FAQ which said that the max for chargebacks is 180 days, which is only in the case of when a merchant has violated merchant rules (otherwise it’s 120). So Advance Auto was about 2375 days overdue for a records wipe. It’s time to start tightening up the lax security standards on the retail level that have created a playground of plunder for identity thieves.
(Thanks to Volksaddict!)
A.A. sent us these photos, and writes,
That’s the sign I saw at the Bath & Body Works store in a Tanger Outlet Mall in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. I didn’t go inside to find out if my legal tender was no good there or what, but I’m a fan of the site and thought y’all would get a kick out of the pics.
The U.S. Treasury says that’s fine, stores don’t have to accept cash. We’re just worried the people in Pigeon Forge know something about the U.S. dollar that we don’t.
Here’s yet another way to get your money back if you find the airline you’ve booked tickets with should suddenly cease to operate: trip insurance may be one of the default benefits on your credit card. If you booked with a credit card, call up the company and ask. For instance, Citi PremierPass Elite MasterCard comes with Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance for free. Reader Jhayme says they are refunding ATA Airlines passengers who purchased their ticket in full on the card up to $1500. The number to call to submit a claim is 1-800-950-5118, and there is a claim form that should be submitted American Express has a similar program called Travel Delay Protection, that will reimburse passengers if they cannot be rebooked on a new flight within a certain time period. I believe this costs $9.95 per trip. With two airlines going bankrupt, it may be a good idea for people to look into these programs.” Those credit cards may be evil, but for big ticket items, their buyer protections can come in handy sometimes.
The Westin Casuarina Hotel & Spa in Las Vegas has begun charging an unpaid $50,000 convention fee to the attendees who already paid before they attended back in October. The company that set up the event, Austin-based The Coaching Center, hasn’t paid its bill yet, and “president Suzanne Black said she was trying to arrange a payment plan when she was told by Westin management that the hotel would recoup the bill from attendees.” Now people are finding charges anywhere from $600 to $1200 on their credit card bills. Even the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has said this isn’t standard practice, but Westin says it’s got fine print that proves it can hold you liable for any charges left unpaid on your visit.
Judge Wants To Know Why 31 Law Firms Are Seeking A Cut Of The "Credit Card Hidden Transaction Fee" Settlement
Last year’s class-action settlement against Mastercard, Visa, and several banks over the fees they charged customers who traveled abroad came up to about $336 million, and of that, 31 law firms are claiming a total of about $86 million for fees. The federal judge responsible for determining how much they get paid wants to know why.
Two readers wrote in with similar complaints: each had left a small overpayment on his credit account, and instead of leaving the balance or issuing a check, the bank zeroed out the balance and pocketed the money. Apparently, banks are now treating small balances like tips.