MSN, CCBill, Online Payments and Ambush Billing

by Karoli on March 14, 2007 · 57 comments

This seems to be my week for annoying, stupid, time-wasting events. I did a review of the checking account tonight after having the debit card declined at the grocery store only to discover a random charge of $79.95 by MSN on March 8th.

The last time I paid MSN for their services was 2001. The card they had on file for me was expired and had been replaced by a new one because the original one had been hacked by someone with a penchant for xxx-rated websites. Because I keep that account pretty flat with just a little bit of money in it for a last-minute trip to the grocery store or small things, that charge put my balance over by $3.00, generating a nice fat overdraft fee.

After investigating the whole thing, I was mystified by a couple of things. First, how were they able to put through a charge on a card that was expired and not even the same card number as the one we have now? And second, why the heck were they charging me for something I haven’t used or subscribed to since 2001?

Teachable moment #1:
If your personal and bank information are the same as when you subscribed, they can put it through and the bank will honor it. That means that you absolutely MUST, I repeat, MUST cancel every service and get a confirmation number for the cancellation in order for the bank to reverse the charge. I emphasize “the bank” because they will do it (at least, B of A will) immediately if you can prove you’ve cancelled the service by providing a cancellation number.

The answer to my second question was that Verizon, my online provider, has changed their online portal to Yahoo! (I knew this) and so continued access to MSN required payment. The only problem with this logic is that MSN did not notify me and they did not give me an opportunity to cancel the account ahead of the charge. It’s likely that I wouldn’t even have caught it until the end of the month if I didn’t have such a low balance in that account.

Teachable moment #2: Keep track of subscription services online and renewal dates. If you don’t use or want the service anymore, cancel it long before it’s due to renew.

My conversation with MSN began badly. Note to MSN: Please, please give an “out” option on your voice menu, because this is where we started:

Automated Voice Response (AVR): “Your credit card on file has expired. Do you want to change the expiration date, or give us a new card?”

My response: “No.”

AVR: “Your credit card on file has expired. Do you want to change the expiration date, or give us a new card? For help, say Help”

Me: “Help!”

AVR: “Okay. Here is the help for this item. Because your credit card has expired, you must change the expiration date or give us a new card. Please say ‘change date’ or ‘new card’.”


AVR: “Your credit card on file has expired. Do you want to change the expiration date, or give us a new card? For help, say Help”

(are you frustrated yet? This went on for two more rounds, until I finally lost my temper)


AVR: “Okay. I think I heard you say you wish to speak to a customer service representative. Say ‘Yes’ for a representative, or ‘Main Menu for other options’ “

Me: “YES!”

My conversation with the representative was nearly as laughable.  She began by telling me that they would not reverse the charges because this was similar to a cable subscription:  Even if I did not use it, I still COULD use it, so I should pay for it.

I reiterated that I was CANCELLING THE ACCOUNT, and at most, should be on the hook for 5 days of access, or 5/365 x $79.95, but there was no way I should pay $79.95.  She didn’t seem to get it until I laid it out for her clearly.  I asked her this:  If the charge was made for the year beginning 3/7/2007, it covered the year through 3/7/2008.  If I cancelled my account today, should I be made to pay for it for 11 months and 26 days?

Oh, she said.  Let me run this by the supervisor again.  I see what you’re saying now.

And she came back and credited the entire charge, apologized and gave me a confirmation number for the transaction.  She also said they’d give me a 90-day grace period in case I changed my mind.

Microsoft, I’m not going to change my mind.  I’m just sayin’.  Why do I need to pay 80 bucks a year for services I don’t use?  And why don’t I use them?  Because there are better, faster and more efficient services available to me through Google, Flickr, and other sites that are FREE.  HELLO!!!!!!!

ccBILL is even more evil

Now, let’s talk about ccBill, the most evil online billing service on the planet.  In case you’re not aware, ccBill is the collector for many different web services, but they collect a large majority for online porn sites.  I mentioned in other posts that I was cleaning up a porn mess of Sticks’ own making.  On February 1st when I discovered that his card was being debited by several different porn sites through ccBill, I followed their cancellation instructions to the letter, clicking the link, searching by email address and credit card number for all subscriptions billed through ccBill.  I found three and cancelled them. 

I also called Wells Fargo Bank and requested a stop on any charges put through by ccBill from that point forward.  They said they put a stop on them.

On March 2nd, 2 more charges went through for $55.00 to sites I cancelled the month before.  We were leaving for Maui the next day, so I had a phone fit with WFB, who then got the smart-aleck who handles customer service at ccBill (I got the same doofus both times), and we literally had a three-way shouting match.

Among other things this customer service jerk accused me of mistakenly assuming all accounts were cancelled because I actually followed the email instructions and did it via the websites, reporting at the same time that these were charged by a minor and were therefore in violation of the law.  He explained in a condescending and extremely irritating tone that the ONLY WAY to ensure that all accounts were cancelled was to call him, because he could do a search that I couldn’t do — where the card number would bring up all billed accounts through ccBill.

Nowhere on their website does it say that.  It says that if you search on two of three terms, you will pull up accounts and can cancel them.  Additionally, I had called ccBill the week before over the same issues where they assured me that all accounts had been pulled up and cancelled.  Only, he didn’t really remember that phone call and failed to send a confirming email, so as to conveniently allow for another $100 in charges to go through.  My cell phone bill, however, confirms the call and exact time I made it, as well as the date.

So the day before we are leaving town for a week I had to waste 2 hours of time with this doofus, and ultimately Sticks’ account had to be closed and a new one opened this week to make absolutely sure that no additional charges could go through.

You want to know the most evil part of this?  Even after reporting that these were subscriptions charged by a minor, the specific websites in question allowed access for the month they had charged for, instead of immediately reversing the charges and closing down access entirely.

Now, I’m not making excuses for Sticks.  He was stupid.  He’s also 17.  17-year old kids do stupid things, and he is no exception.  I view the initial $125 ding to his account before I discovered it as penalty enough for stupidity.  What I am hot about is that when I got involved, followed the exact instructions on the site and THOUGHT I had cancelled all accounts, charges (exhorbitant ones at that) were allowed to continue to be drawn against an account that I had requested a block on.

This is greed, pure and simple.  (Duh)  But really, it’s more than that.  It’s the incredible effort they make to KEEP YOUR MONEY even when you tell them you don’t want them to.

Imagine this:  You go to a restaurant and charge a nice dinner, bottle of wine and dessert.  A week later, you receive an identical charge because they assumed that because you enjoyed the dinner last week, you’d have one this week.  And if you didn’t have one, you should’ve had one, and you could’ve had one, so they are justified in charging you for one.

That’s exactly what’s going on there.  MSN knew immediately that I hadn’t accessed MSN in over three years, because they had their argument prepared for why I owed them money for a service I wasn’t using.  But rather than think it through, they started with a mindset that I, the customer, owed them this money for FUTURE SERVICES that I hadn’t been using in the past!

ccBill didn’t even think that much.  Their perspective was that it didn’t matter if the charges were bogus, they were just the collector and would continue to collect on behalf of their client.  In addition, they would make it completely difficult for customers to find the mechanism to shut down the service properly, thus ensuring they would receive at least twice and maybe three times what they were owed before the customer simply shut down their bank account.

Oh, I should add that my debit card was shut down after it was hacked and charges were put through by…you guessed it…ccBill. 

Online service bill by ambush.  We shouldn’t stand for it.  Would you go back to the restaurant I described in my example?  What are YOUR horror stories?

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marie March 14, 2007 at 1:16 pm

In case you change your mind? They never stop selling.

What’s scary is they put a charge through on a card with an expired date and relate it to the successor account.

Excellent analogy on the restaurant.

Several years ago I bought some clothes for my kids at a national chain in the mall. Three or so months later, my bank calls me wanting to know if I was making long distance calls to Germany. No. Well, it turns out that the clerk at the store pocketed my credit card information for future personal use. How they traced it back to that person, they never told me. But, thanks to some eagle-eye software at the bank, they caught it and the charges never even showed up on my account statement. I did appreciate the bank calling me for that.

So, here’s a question. Who are these people that work for these companies that have our credit card and debit card info?

2 Donna March 16, 2007 at 10:02 am

AARGH! I’ve had automated calls like that. And snarky customer “service” reps like the one you dealt with at CCBill. I feel for the waste of time you had to endure to try to straighten all that out. Makes you want to forego using credit at all — but I’m afraid it’s near to impossible to do that these days. (Having rented a car yesterday — so many businesses simply will not work with you without a card.)

3 Hammer Time April 29, 2007 at 3:54 am

Well, first things first. You or someone with access to your card signed up for a membership service. It isn’t a restaurant, it’s a membership and the fees are considered dues. Your analogy to a resaurant doesn’t even come close. You aren’t buying a tangible good you are buying access to services based on a monthly access fee. It’s up to you to cancel them. Of course both ccbill and msn will try to get your money, it was offered up to them with an online agreement that “you” signed by charging your account.

Secondly, do you know how many people charge back their cards in that industry? Do you know that it is pretty difficult to challange it from the side of the business? Fraud is at an all time high and yes they have gotten serious about it to the point of making it harder and harder to cheat them by charging back. In your instance with the porn sites, there is no way on Earth to discern whether or not you made the charge or “sticks” did. So do I blame them for being difficult, no. Has it happened to me, yes.

I also use ccbill as a billing solution because they are strict and honest. There are a number of less reputable companies that hammer porn site members and ccbill keeps their nose pretty squeaky clean.

There is also a huge difference in credit card transactions and debit card transactions. I’ve cancelled debit cards before (with wells fargo) and had new plastic issued only to have the same thing happen. The bank treats it as a check, not a credit card so the protections you have with a true credit card are not in place. The banks just never bother to tell you that.

So, you are upset that someone you know took advantage of your card and you didn’t bother to call CCBill immediately. Don’t be the victim here. I’d never give my 17 year old boy or girl access to my accounts.

Sorry, just calling it as i see it. You, ultimately, are to blame and I admire the tenacity you’ve expressed in getting the situation resolved to your liking. Be careful with your cards and your accounts.

4 karoli April 29, 2007 at 6:36 pm

You have two situations mixed up. The MSN situation shouldn’t have happened at all – the card was expired, I declined to give them new card info, and the account should have terminated.

On the issue of the 17-year old, it was HIS card, not mine. And after ccBill had been notified that all charges were to be stopped, that should have happened. Before they were notified, it was his problem. AFTER they were notified, it was their problem. The card should NOT have had to have been terminated and reissued to stop billings from being submitted. That’s a failing on their part, not his. The first charges — all his responsibility. No question about it.

5 David SIlver May 8, 2007 at 12:10 pm

What a truly scary story! — Check out PaidByCash — it might be exactly what you are looking for to prevent this from ever happening again.

6 Richers Blog December 2, 2008 at 8:09 am

very informative topics,
thank you MSN, CCBill, Online Payments and Ambush Billing
but sad

7 Richers Blog December 2, 2008 at 3:09 pm

very informative topics,
thank you MSN, CCBill, Online Payments and Ambush Billing
but sad

8 Karoli December 2, 2008 at 3:23 pm


9 Hannah August 12, 2014 at 9:24 am

I discovered your MSN, CCBill, Online Payments and Ambush Billing page and noticed you could have a lot more hits. I have found that the key to running a popular website is making sure the visitors you are getting are interested in your subject matter. There is a company that you can get visitors from and they let you try the service for free. I managed to get over 300 targeted visitors to day to my site. Visit them today:

10 Get the facts August 19, 2014 at 9:41 am

I simply want to say I’m all new to blogging and really enjoyed you’re web page. Very likely I’m want to bookmark your site . You certainly come with exceptional articles. Bless you for sharing with us your blog.

11 follow this content August 20, 2014 at 6:38 pm

I’ll gear this review to 2 types of people: current Zune owners who are considering an upgrade, and people trying to decide between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players worth considering out there, like the Sony Walkman X, but I hope this gives you enough info to make an informed decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as well.)

12 Keven Perreault August 21, 2014 at 1:18 am

I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a great blog like this one nowadays..

13 Bernarda Garacci August 21, 2014 at 3:00 am

Hey this is somewhat of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding expertise so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

14 Burton Laffin August 21, 2014 at 3:21 am

It is truly a nice and helpful piece of info. I am happy that you shared this useful info with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

15 Cory Aney August 21, 2014 at 3:33 am

Pretty! This has been an very superb clause. A lot of gratitude for providing this information.

16 Shirlee Mowell August 21, 2014 at 5:54 am

I have been examinating out some of your posts and it’s clever stuff. I will definitely bookmark your blog.

17 Talia Colo August 21, 2014 at 7:11 am

Wonderful beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your website, how could i subscribe for a blog site? The account helped me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear idea

18 good article August 21, 2014 at 8:00 am

Sorry for the huge review, but I’m really loving the new Zune, and hope this, as well as the excellent reviews some other people have written, will help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.

19 continue reading August 21, 2014 at 12:53 pm

An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I believe that you ought to write more on this subject, it may not be a taboo subject but typically people do not discuss such topics. To the next! Cheers!!

20 good article August 21, 2014 at 5:25 pm

A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment. I believe that you ought to publish more on this subject matter, it may not be a taboo matter but usually folks don’t talk about such subjects. To the next! All the best!!

21 Marcelene Carter August 21, 2014 at 6:55 pm

Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really helpful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give one thing back and help others such as you helped me.

22 Armand Mcewen August 21, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Its such as you read my thoughts! You seem to know a lot approximately this, such as you wrote the e-book in it or something. I feel that you simply could do with a few % to force the message house a little bit, but instead of that, this is excellent blog. A great read. I will certainly be back.

23 Dirk Pacior August 21, 2014 at 11:13 pm

C:\program files\Electronic Arts\EADM\bin\EADMClient – Service. One of my new favorite games to play while I work is Sims 3. It will appeal to a lot of viewers including adults and children as it involves good humor throughout.

24 Kenton Regener August 22, 2014 at 3:26 am

As I web site possessor I believe the content matter here is rattling excellent , appreciate it for your efforts. You should keep it up forever! Good Luck.

25 Shawna Bolser August 22, 2014 at 6:11 am

I’m amazed, I have to admit. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and amusing, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something too few men and women are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I found this in my search for something concerning this.

26 Bernard Isby August 22, 2014 at 7:22 am

After study a number of of the weblog posts in your website now, and I actually like your means of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark web site record and can be checking again soon. Pls check out my web page as properly and let me know what you think.

27 Jeffery Sullenberger August 22, 2014 at 8:09 am

I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your site. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme? Outstanding work!

28 Debrah Mundy August 22, 2014 at 8:26 am

This is the suitable blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize a lot its virtually hard to argue with you (not that I truly would need…HaHa). You positively put a brand new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Nice stuff, simply nice!

29 good info August 22, 2014 at 8:37 am

It’s hard to find well-informed people in this particular subject, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

30 Stevie Leonti August 22, 2014 at 10:01 am

Excellent blog here! Also your website loads up very fast! What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my web site loaded up as fast as yours lol

31 Morris Aiudi August 22, 2014 at 10:11 am

It’s really great to interact with Sims fans all over the world and in my opinion has widened the scope of the game tremendously. So allow yourself to ask for help because you are worth it. Ambrosia also cannot be replicated in the replicator machine so make sure you have plenty of fruit and death fish in your inventory in case one of your sims gobbles it up on accident.

32 Gabriel Ranildi August 22, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Hi my friend! I wish to say that this article is amazing, nice written and include approximately all significant infos. I’d like to see more posts like this.

33 Shawanda Schefers August 22, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Nice blog here! Additionally your web site loads up fast! What web host are you using? Can I am getting your associate hyperlink for your host? I wish my web site loaded up as fast as yours lol

34 Rolland Soderholm August 22, 2014 at 6:29 pm

I’ve read a few good stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how much effort you put to make such a magnificent informative site.

35 Norene Farnes August 22, 2014 at 11:20 pm

Thanks for your post right here. One thing I would really like to say is that most professional fields consider the Bachelor Degree like thejust like the entry level standard for an online course. Although Associate Degrees are a great way to get started, completing your Bachelors uncovers many good opportunities to various professions, there are numerous internet Bachelor Diploma Programs available by institutions like The University of Phoenix, Intercontinental University Online and Kaplan. Another issue is that many brick and mortar institutions provide Online types of their degree programs but often for a significantly higher charge than the firms that specialize in online diploma programs.

36 Pierre Culton August 22, 2014 at 11:40 pm

With havin so much written content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright violation? My site has a lot of unique content I’ve either written myself or outsourced but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my permission. Do you know any ways to help stop content from being stolen? I’d genuinely appreciate it.

37 Deborah Sandell August 23, 2014 at 10:27 am

Thank you for sharing excellent informations. Your site is so cool. I am impressed by the details that you’ve on this website. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this web page, will come back for more articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found just the info I already searched everywhere and simply couldn’t come across. What a great website.

38 Louis Levandofsky August 23, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Good blog post. A few things i would like to make contributions about is that personal computer memory is required to be purchased but if your computer still cannot cope with everything you do by using it. One can add two random access memory boards of 1GB each, by way of example, but not one of 1GB and one with 2GB. One should make sure the maker’s documentation for one’s PC to make certain what type of storage it can take.

39 Ernest Gunnett August 23, 2014 at 2:56 pm

It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you some interesting things or suggestions. Maybe you could write next articles referring to this article. I desire to read even more things about it!

40 Kennith Eggins August 23, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Thanks for the strategies presented. One thing I additionally believe is the fact that credit cards offering a 0% rate often entice consumers with zero interest rate, instant approval and easy internet balance transfers, nonetheless beware of the real factor that may void your 0% easy road annual percentage rate plus throw one out into the very poor house rapid.

41 Luis Oblinski August 23, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Undeniably believe that which you said. Your favorite reason appeared to be on the net the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while people consider worries that they just do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people can take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

42 Orville Raemer August 23, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Hmm it appears like your website ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any points for inexperienced blog writers? I’d definitely appreciate it.

43 Mira Budge August 24, 2014 at 12:31 am

Thanks for your article on the vacation industry. I’d personally also like to include that if your senior thinking of traveling, its absolutely imperative that you buy travel insurance for seniors. When traveling, older persons are at biggest risk of getting a health-related emergency. Having the right insurance plan package for one’s age group can look after your health and give you peace of mind.

44 Salvatore Jameel August 24, 2014 at 12:54 am

Hi I am so excited I found your blog, I really found you by accident, while I was looking on Askjeeve for something else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like to say many thanks for a marvelous post and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read it all at the moment but I have saved it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a lot more, Please do keep up the excellent job.

45 Radca prawny Gdynia August 24, 2014 at 3:22 am

its excellent as your other content : D, appreciate it for posting .

46 August 24, 2014 at 5:23 am

Really enjoyed this article post.Thanks Again. Will read on…

47 Corliss Houpt August 24, 2014 at 8:31 am

An additional issue is that video games usually are serious in nature with the key focus on understanding rather than leisure. Although, there is an entertainment element to keep your young ones engaged, each and every game will likely be designed to improve a specific set of skills or area, such as math or scientific disciplines. Thanks for your posting.

48 Lakia Sorley August 24, 2014 at 9:51 am

Your house is valueble for me. Thanks!…

49 Hollis Bannerman August 24, 2014 at 3:01 pm

I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was wondering what all is required to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very web savvy so I’m not 100% sure. Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

50 Teddy Ritzer August 24, 2014 at 5:54 pm

One important thing is that when you’re searching for a education loan you may find that you’ll need a co-signer. There are many situations where this is correct because you might discover that you do not use a past credit ranking so the financial institution will require that you’ve got someone cosign the money for you. Interesting post.

51 Kamala Deremiah August 24, 2014 at 6:32 pm

A person essentially help to make seriously posts I would state. This is the very first time I frequented your web page and thus far? I amazed with the research you made to make this particular publish extraordinary. Magnificent job!

52 Charley Harnois August 24, 2014 at 7:01 pm

I have observed that over the course of making a relationship with real estate managers, you’ll be able to come to understand that, in most real estate exchange, a commission amount is paid. Finally, FSBO sellers really don’t “save” the commission rate. Rather, they fight to earn the commission by simply doing a strong agent’s occupation. In doing this, they commit their money in addition to time to carry out, as best they will, the obligations of an representative. Those duties include revealing the home by marketing, representing the home to willing buyers, building a sense of buyer urgency in order to make prompt an offer, organizing home inspections, handling qualification assessments with the lender, supervising maintenance tasks, and assisting the closing.

53 Bob Yordy August 24, 2014 at 11:47 pm

Thanks for the interesting things you have discovered in your post. One thing I would really like to touch upon is that FSBO human relationships are built after some time. By presenting yourself to the owners the first weekend break their FSBO is usually announced, prior to the masses start out calling on Monday, you create a good network. By mailing them resources, educational resources, free reviews, and forms, you become a great ally. By subtracting a personal curiosity about them plus their scenario, you produce a solid link that, many times, pays off if the owners decide to go with a representative they know as well as trust — preferably you.

54 Michiko Uldrich August 25, 2014 at 7:08 am

Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It if truth be told was a amusement account it. Look complicated to far delivered agreeable from you! By the way, how can we keep in touch?

55 Benedict Behrendt August 26, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Once I initially commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a remark is added I get 4 emails with the identical comment. Is there any manner you possibly can take away me from that service? Thanks!

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: