Bill Me Later

April 7th I bought a used Nikon D600 package off of Ebay to replace the one I dropped off of a waterfall. It has been awhile since I bought anything off of Ebay because I’ve disagreed with their policies and prices for selling through them. But I went to Ebay to research the price of used D600 bodies, and in the process stumbled across a really good deal on a package that included one of the lenses I wanted to get as well.

So a few days went by and I returned to Ebay when the auction closed. Made my bid with a few seconds to spare, and got the package for the price I wanted. At checkout, Ebay popped up a deal to open a Pay Me Later account which sounded attractive, as it was tax time and the saving account was a bit thin.

So I went through the application process which they promised would provide a quick approval. Or in this case, a quick disapproval. Which surprised me because I have really good credit. I own a home and haven’t missed payments, I don’t carry a balance on my credit cards, I don’t have any other outstanding credit loans. Thinking maybe we got caught up in the Target credit card theft, I even checked my credit record. Clean as a whistle.

Chalking it up to some kind of computer glitch, I went ahead and checked out with out the Bill Me Later. I totally forgot about Bill Me Later, until two weeks later, when I got a letter from them informing me “We regret that we are unable to approve you for the service at this time for the following reason:”

Certain elements of the transaction vary significantly from typical customer purchase behaviors due to the risk associated with this type of transaction, as well as the time of day of the transaction.

I had to read that several times because of the poor grammar, but I think they were presenting two reasons.

First, the transaction varied significantly from typical customer purchase behaviors. Ok, I’m buying a camera. I’m sure lots of people buy cameras off of Ebay. But maybe they were alarmed because I’m also a photographer? Yep, that sounds pretty suspicious.

Second, they were worried about the time of day of the transaction. Hmm, I bought the camera when the auction ended, which happened to be 8:20am on a Saturday. Not really under my control. You’d think a company that does most of their business with Ebay would understand that the Internet is open 24/7 and wouldn’t even take the time of day into consideration.

The letter went on to say I didn’t need respond to them, but when I see stupidity at this level, I have to respond. They didn’t include a phone number or email, but did suggest I contact Bill Me Later “at the above address”. Really? Snail Mail? An internet company that resorts to 20th century means of communication?

Not wanting to spend that amount of energy on contacting them, I went to their web site and found a customer support telephone number. Their phone system provided two and only two options, enter the phone number of the account (don’t have an account, that’s why I’m calling) or enter the reference number of the transaction (which obviously, I also don’t have). No way to get around it by pressing 0 for operator or any other keys I thought of.

Finally after about 5 cycles, their computer finally figured out I didn’t have a correct answer, and it put me on hold for the next human. I was finally connected with Melany. I think this lady works for every company I’ve ever called with a customer service question. She was super excited to take my call, and her voice was just dripping with enthusiasm. /sarcasm

Seriously, she sounded like she needed an IV drip of a highly caffeinated drink. I gave her the back story on my case, and read her the explanation in the letter. I explained I was curious what they meant by “significantly different from typical customer purchase behaviors”.

She asked for the reference number so I repeated the 28 character reference number to her. Do they really need 28 characters to keep track of the people their system declines? That offers something like a billion million possibilities using just numbers. Seems a bit overkill. Or so I pondered while on hold.

She finally came back with a pretty anti-climatic answer. She didn’t know. She thought it might be because the information I entered didn’t match the information I had in my Ebay account. I only have one house so I’m pretty sure the address I entered would have matched, as well as any other info they asked for. At this point I wasn’t going to do business with Bill Me Later anyways, but I at least wanted to know their reason.

Apparently they don’t even know the reason. That’s not the kind of company I want to be making financial transactions with.