Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Kickstarter credit card declined

Heroforge has a new Kickstarter project for Full-color 3D printed custom miniatures. While I don't necessarily want a $40 full-color printed plastic figurine, one of the pledge levels allowed to pledge $50 for downloading 10 STL files for printing at home, which is $30 less than the usual price ($7.99 per download). Only my pledge didn't work, I got a "credit card declined for unknown reason" error message, although I had used that same card on that same site before. Removing the card and entering the information again didn't help.

My credit card getting declined always makes me nervous. I had several instances in the past where this was due to my credit card having been automatically deactivated because somebody had tried to defraud me. Never lost any money, but the bank never tells you that this has happened, and you need to go and find out, and order a new credit card, which takes a while. So my first concern was how to find out whether my credit card was still valid and active. That is surprisingly difficult, there is no easy way to check it online. In the end I decided to donate $10 to charity online, and as that payment went through without a problem, I knew that my credit card was still okay.

So I called the company that is handling my credit card transactions, which is *not* my bank, but a large French company called Atos Worldline. They handle credit card transactions for many different European banks. I had found out over the years that calling my bank to ask about a credit card transaction was useless, you have to call Atos directly. So after the usual safety questions I got an answer to my question: Atos had recently decided that Kickstarter was not safe, and is now systematically blocking all payments to them. Fortunately there was an option to ask them to unblock the site for my credit card, I just have to wait 24 hours for that to get processed.

Searching the internet I found out that I am not the only one with that problem. A number of banks and credit card handlers have blacklisted Kickstarter as a safety risk; presumably because there are a high number of customers demanding chargebacks. The very nature of the Kickstarter business model makes buyer's remorse more likely than buying something on another website. Scams are all too frequent on Kickstarter, and even honest projects are often late or under-deliver on their promises. No wonder sometimes customers try to get their money back!

I had that several years ago. I phoned my bank and they told me it had flagged because their algorithm considered Kickstarter to be out of sync with the pattern of usual payments it saw on my card. I asked them to unflag it and I haven't had any issue since, although I also haven't tried to Kickstart anything for a while.

It seems unlikely chargebacks are the reason. More likely the usual suspicious nature of banks, who seem to feel they're our mothers not oor service providers.
"somebody had tried to defraud me. Never lost any money, but the bank never tells you that this has happened, and you need to go and find out"

Interesting - this looks like it may be one area where we handle things better in the States than in the EU. I've had credit card numbers stolen several times, and by and large in addition to locking my account the bank usually calls me. I can't recall a time I've had to chase them down. In addition, our liability in that case is limited to $50, no matter what they take (and I've had 'em take a lot!)
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