In checking over our monthly American Express statement (I really should do this more often) I noticed a charge from Google Adwords for $20.83. I dug back a little further and found that this charge had been repeating itself on the second of every month since March.
Our company does have an adwords account, administered by someone else, and the budget is set at a nice round number, with charges posted to a credit card twice every month. This mystery charge was definitely not related to that account, and it was also not related to another adwords account that had had all of its activity suspended in February.
We’ve spent way more than $20.83 today trying to track this down, and we don’t have an answer yet.
My point? I’m getting to it.
Abandoned “orphan” accounts for online services have become a major profit center for those who sell those services on a subscription basis. It can be so hard to get answers that you just find yourself saying “I’ll get back to that tomorrow”. Next month, there it is again. Most of these service providers don’t have human beings who answer the phone and they send you those “Do not reply to this email” responses when you try to get an answer.
What to do? Here’s how we handle it. Any time you don’t understand the details of a charge, give the service provider the courtesy of one phone call. If you don’t get a satisfactory answer, challenge the charge with the card issuer. The company posting the charge has ten days to provide an explanation, and if they don’t provide a satisfactory answer, then the charge will be reversed. It is expensive and time consuming for the company generating the charge to validate the charge and if they ignore Visa or American Express, they run the risk of losing the right to accept credit cards.
This process is quick, can be done online, and causes expense and complication for everybody in the chain of custody of your money.
If the charge shows up again next month, challenge it again. They’ll get the message.
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