Computers don’t understand Christmas.

I phoned Visa yesterday. This is not something one has occasion to do frequently, however I have done it twice in the past month. We are not amused.

The first time was a few weeks back when one of the kids – Sean most likely – was trying to buy something online using my Visa. It wanted my “Verified by Visa” password. WTF? I’ve seen that in the past, and since I had no clue what it was, I had backed out of the transaction and shopped elsewhere. This time I phoned Visa and asked what was going on. She talked me through this service, which apparently is an additional level of security that Visa has introduced for online purchasing where one’s identity can’t be confirmed via the use of one’s PIN. So I wrote the password down and Sean’s purchase went through and all was good.

Fast forward to the other day when Brianna tried to purchase a Minecraft account. Up popped the Verified by Visa screen, and out came my handy dandy password paper. The transaction was declined. Excuse me? Try again, Brianna. Declined again. Screw this Verified by Visa crap, here, use my MasterCard. Which was immediately approved, purchase went through, and she started building things.  All was good. Or so I thought.

Fast forward to Thursday when I stopped to buy gas. The new pumps pre-authorize a fuel purchase to a maximum of $100. I’ve never had a problem because I am a good girl and pay my Visa off in full every month. Imagine my shock when the card was declined and the little screen told me to see the cashier. She had no explanation, but said she would try to put through an authorization for the amount of fuel I needed. I figured $60 would fill the tank, so she processed it, I entered my PIN and it went through, no problem. I took my full gas tank home and sat down at the computer to check my Visa balance. Nope, nowhere near the limit, but I paid it off in full, just in case. Figured that was it, all was good.

Once again, I was wrong. That evening Sean was trying to download an album from ITunes . (I had allowed him to do so as a thank you for some work he had done for me.) My Visa was declined, and it informed us that his last purchase, which was a whopping $1.98, had also been declined! By this point, I was getting worried, but I handed over the MasterCard and it went through. The next morning I was on the phone to Visa.

So here’s the deal. When Brianna tried to use it to pay for her Minecraft, Visa’s computer system identified the money collecting service used by Minecraft as “suspicious activity”, declined the transaction and tagged my account. From that point on, any transaction which did not require me to enter my PIN was declined. Did they contact me to find out what was  going on? No, they sat back and waited for me to clue in that there was a problem. And the nice lady on the phone said she had a number of transactions she wanted to verify with me. Um, okay, let’s hear them. Did I recognize Jagex and Robolox? Yes, those are two online games Sean has been playing for years. One or the other shows up on my Visa with a small fee every single month – and has done so for at least three years, but you’re only just questioning it now? Um, ok, let’s hear the rest. Amazon.com/Kindle. Ah, yes, I received a Kindle for Christmas, and if you check, you should find that the first purchase was within a couple days of Christmas. ITunes. Sigh. Once again, my son received an IPod for Christmas  and I have been allowing him to purchase occasional songs. The nice Visa lady told me that was everything, and she had verified those transactions, removed the tag from my account, so I shouldn’t have any further problems.

Now, I didn’t ask her this, primarily because I hadn’t thought of it at the time, but – the items she asked me about were all small purchases. The online games are $5.95 per month, the Kindle ones are no more than $3.99, and the ITunes was $1.98. So why did they not question the purchase I made at a Pilot truck stop in backwoods Pennsylvania? To me, that would be more out of the ordinary purchasing pattern for me. And why didn’t they question the $800 car service, which had been paid over the phone, so no PIN was ever entered.

I guess the only explanation is that their computer doesn’t understand Christmas gifts and the resulting alteration of purchasing patterns….

(And so you know, I used the card at East Side Marios last night, no PIN was required, and it was accepted, so I think we’re all good now.)

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One Response to Computers don’t understand Christmas.

  1. Heather Smedley says:

    Good Grief!

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