Today should have seen the launch of a new self-paced online course based on the bird and the lion of the Wolfgang chasuble (c. AD 1050). I planned on having a nice cash flow coming in before my next research trip. Not happening quite yet. I was stopped by a customer. It meant that I spent most of my time researching what my options were, how to prevent it from happening again and chasing said customer. It took and takes a lot of time and energy as the issue is sadly still not resolved. When you follow Yvette Stanton, you have probably read about her woes with cancelled classes and a massive copyright breach. Being self-employed in the embroidery business is not always fun. Some customers forget that there is a real human being on the other end. A little mindfulness goes a long way. So, what happened?
Last week, I was contacted by Stripe (the payment portal for direct credit card payments on my website) that a customer had filed fraud charges against me with her bank. Wow. Me, fraudulent? That's a first. Stripe explained to me that the US bank would take the money out of my bank account together with a fine. But I could appeal against this. I only needed to prove to the bank that this customer had really purchased from me. That I, nor anyone else, was charging or using her credit card illegally. An invoice would not do. Anyone could produce one. I needed her signature. Small problem: there is none when you use your credit card online... Next option: contact the customer and sort things out. In the meantime, the US bank was in a hurry and plundered my bank account.
The order dates back to the end of August. My efforts to contact the customer by email were in vain. She is subscribed to my newsletter and I could see that she opened those occasionally. My emails thus did come through. After a week of using all my email addresses and the one belonging to my husband, I decided to call her. I called her repeatedly. The phone was not picked up. I hoped it was a cell phone. In Germany and the Netherlands, the number tells you if it belongs to a landline or a cell phone. This is not the case in the US. But it was now my last resort. I texted said customer. I could see that she had read the message, but she did not reply. Finally, she did, and things went even more bizarre.
Apparently, she has had memory problems for a while. She could not remember ordering from me. Could I please just cancel the order? No, I can't. The case has now been escalated on the side of the customer and that customer is now the only one who can put things straight. I explained to her that she needed to contact her bank and have the fraud charges against me lifted. She promised she would. I lost contact with her until she contacted me in the middle of the night (!). She needed to know which credit card she had used for the purchase. As I was afraid to lose contact with her again, I opened my laptop and gave her the details. Now I have lost contact again.
It does not look like I will win this dispute with the US bank. And I doubt the customer gets things sorted. And even when she does, I will not be reimbursed for the fraud fine. Most of my sales go through PayPal. I have had one or two disputes there in the past. All solved in a civil manner. Quick and without financial harm to either me or the customer. PayPal has buyer's and seller's protection. As it should be. The way forward? All orders are from now on handled by PayPal. You cannot use your credit card directly in my webshop anymore. I am sorry to those loyal customers who have previously bought from me using their credit card. But I am sure that they will understand that this is now no longer an option.
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