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Bug The Almighty Buck Games

Warhammer Online Users Repeatedly Overbilled 216

TheSpoom writes "A screw-up in EA's Warhammer Online billing system has resulted in many players being charged upwards of 22 times for a one-month subscription, filling bank accounts with overdraft fees and the Warhammer forums with very angry players, who are discussing the issue quite vocally. EA has said that refunds are in progress and that '[they] anticipate that once the charges have been reversed, any fees that have been incurred should be refunded as well.' They haven't specifically promised to refund overdraft charges, only to ask customers' banks to refund them once the actual charges are refunded. They seem to be assuming banks will have no problem with this."
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Warhammer Online Users Repeatedly Overbilled

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  • Lawsuit (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @12:02AM (#31785646)

    3 elements of the tort of negligence:

    1) Did they owe the claimant a duty of care?
    Yes. By getting direct access to their bank accounts, they had to take care not to overcharge.

    2) Did they breach that duty?
    Yes. They charged multiple times.

    3) Did that breach cause damage?
    Yes. Customers were put into overdraft (and who know how many cheques bounced because of it).

  • Chargebacks (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @12:10AM (#31785682)

    Were I on the receiving end of these charges, I'd just call my bank and have them process a charge back. Let EA handle the fees from that.

    Also, teach you a lesson of never, ever putting things like this on a debit card that can pull money straight from your account.

  • Re:Banks (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @12:20AM (#31785758)

    Okay working for a financial institution myself, I can tell you that it is very likely if the charges are on a Visa Debit Card, people do have recourse. Due to Visa's Zero Liability Coverage [], people who bank with an institution that participates in the VZL are likely to get the funds back if they file a Dispute with their bank or credit union. Fees resulting from the erroneous charges are also likely to be refunded as well. However, each institution is different and some don't fully participate in the Zero Liability Program. If you bank with an institution that tells you to go fuck yourself, it's time to switch to a new bank, or better yet, just switch to a credit union.

    So to summarize, call your bank if you were one of the ones fucked over by EA and request an immediate dispute on all charges beyond the one authorized and agreed upon charges (and then proceed to cancel your subscription to Warhammer). Also, as a word to the wise, make sure to ask your bank to stop subscription charges from EA. Just canceling and getting a new debit card isn't enough. If a merchant has an authorization for subscription billing, they can still bill the card even after the card is canceled, since they have an authorization already.

  • Re:On a related note (Score:3, Informative)

    by Andy Smith ( 55346 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @12:29AM (#31785812)

    Banks in the UK notoriously operate a catch-22 procedure:

    If your account is allowed to go overdrawn:
    1. You are charged for processing of the debit that takes you overdrawn.
    2. You are then charged for being overdrawn.
    This amounts to around £65 of charges for going overdrawn.

    If you instruct the bank not to let your account go overdrawn:
    1. You are charged for the rejection of a debit that would have taken you overdrawn.
    2. You are charged again every time the debit request is repeated, which may be each day.
    3. Some banks also charge you for notifying you of each request being rejected, and don't allow you to opt out of these notifications.

    Our banks have recently been under a lot of pressure to make their overdraft charges fairer. Here's the solution that some of them came up with:

    1. If you use an authorised overdraft, you are charged £1 per day.
    2. If you go over the authorised limit, you are charged £5 per day.

    Work it out and you'll soon see that this is more damaging to customers and the banks are only getting richer.

  • Re:Insane (Score:4, Informative)

    by feuerfalke ( 1034288 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @12:30AM (#31785820)
    Not everyone has hundreds of dollars to spare for a fuckup like this - some people were charged upwards of a thousand dollars! Not everyone can afford the tens or hundreds of dollars of fees they'll be facing, not just in overdraft fees, but also fees for bounced checks, etc. There are lots of people who live paycheck to paycheck - they feed themselves, maybe their kids, they pay rent... but there's not too much left over to save up after that. Even just a few days in which someone can't pay bills can cause a great deal of carnage in someone's life.
  • Credit Union (Score:4, Informative)

    by beakerMeep ( 716990 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @12:46AM (#31785914)
    Find yourselves a good credit union people. Mine has no ATM fees, refunds ATM fees that *other* banks charge me, doesnt ever reorder checks to double hit me, has a max fee of $30, and has about the best customer service and relationship of any company I have ever dealt with. And probably about a dozen other good things I can't think of off the top of my head.

    There is literally no reason whatsoever to give your money and soul to Citibank or Chase or BoA these days.
  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <> on Friday April 09, 2010 @01:03AM (#31786020) Journal
    Actually, in my experience, my bank was very cooperative, making sure I suffered no NSF fees as a result and all automatic payments were still carried through... essentially, forwarding me a temporary credit to my account up to the amount I was out to while the investigation proceeded. I did not have to pay any extra fees for this credit. Took about two weeks for me to get my money back.
  • by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @01:45AM (#31786180)

    Here in Australia, every bank I've been with offer similar services. You can setup automatic deposits into any other Aussie bank account, or to any service provider that provides billing through a system called BPay (all relatively-large companies do). These payments can be once-off, or recurring, and do not incur transaction fees.

    Granted, I can't do it via cron with a shell-script, but I can do it. I generally don't give direct debit access to any company; I either automatically pay via this system (majority), or use a direct debit card (which uses the VISA network, and is identical to a credit card in its disputation rights, but uses actual cash rather than credit).

  • by broken_chaos ( 1188549 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @01:51AM (#31786216)

    This says you're wrong. []

    Read the 'exceptions' list. Exception (a) applies to your situation (father giving you a gift), and exception (f) applies to both your situation and the grandparent's banker's situation (Christmas gifts). For your situation, there would be no value limit on such a gift (exception (a) places no limit on value), and for the grandparent's situation, $20 would certainly be 'reasonable' (the limit on exception (f)) for a Christmas gift.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @02:05AM (#31786296) Homepage

    What may happen is that most of the people who used credit (not debit) cards demand a chargeback from their bank, EA gets hit with thousands of chargeback fees, and EA's merchant bank kicks them into a higher cost credit card category for excessive chargebacks.

    There are Visa procedures for this. [] This is a chargeback code 82 - "Duplicate Processing". Likely cause: "Electronically submitted the same batch of transactions to the merchant bank more than once". See "The Chargeback Life Cycle", page 71, for an overview.

    Generally, if chargebacks exceed 100 chargebacks and 1% of transactions, the chargeback penalty provisions [] kick in. Thereafter, the merchant is charged $100 per chargeback by the merchant's bank. The merchant is forced into Visa's "High Risk Chargeback Monitoring Program", a $5000 "review fee" is charged to the merchant for the first month, and even higher fees are charged if the problem continues.

    Even big merchants have to pay. The banks have to deal individually with each customer to straighten out the mess. They charge the merchant for that.

    Incidentally, "No Chargeback" sales receipts are prohibited by Visa rules and will not be enforced by banks.

    EA is telling their customers [] to contact their financial institution before calling EA. It would probably be cheaper for EA if EA dealt with the problems themselves, but their call center may be too small.

    Some users are complaining that EA charged them partway through the billing cycle, when they didn't owe EA a payment.

    Anyway, EA will be getting a big bill from their bank.

  • by Protoslo ( 752870 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @02:07AM (#31786310)
    Dear Valued Customer,

    We are sending you this email to bring this matter to your immediate attention.

    It appears that some of our customers may have been inadvertently charged multiple times for their subscriptions. If you are affected, you should start seeing a reversal of charges within 24-36 hours. We anticipate that once the charges have been reversed, any resulting fees that have been incurred on the affected account should be reversed as well. If after 36 hours, there are still incorrect charges or fees on the affected account, please follow these instructions:

    * Please begin by contacting your financial institution and explain to them that you were charged multiple times and, as a result, over drafted. Most financial institutions will reverse these charges.

    * If your financial institution is unable to remove these charges, you may contact our billing department for help with charge reversal by calling 650-628-1001 during our hours of operation, which are 10:00 AM EDT - 10:00 PM EDT, 7 days a week. Please have the phone and fax number of your financial institution ready when you call.

    We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that this issue may be causing you. Please continue to watch the Herald for your respective game ( or []) in the coming days for further information regarding this issue.
  • Re:Banks (Score:3, Informative)

    by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @07:28AM (#31787674) Homepage Journal

    Oh, and be nice. You'd be surprised how far being a friendly and courteous person on the phone can get you, and how far being a jackass will NOT get you.

    I've never had problems, and I have Bank of America. The horror stories I hear all tend to stem from someone calling them up in a pissy mood.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:37PM (#31793662)
    Go read the laws on the books. []

    Note this is the Fair Credit Billing Act. It doesn't not apply to other transfers. You could have looked this up yourself instead of being such a jerk.

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