Sunday, February 15, 2009

Vanity, thy name is woman

I doubt that I am the only one who does this. Sometimes when I'm bored I do what I call  "vanity Googling." I Google myself. It can be quite revealing. A couple months ago, when I was really bored, I decided to vanity Google my maiden name. I was more wild and crazy in my unmarried youth, and I thought it might be good to verify that no youthful indiscretions have popped up on the Internet. Well, one thing led to another, and I found myself at Intelius's site clicking yes, I'd like to spend $0.75 to find out more... Oh, you need a credit or debit card? Well, here's my debit card number. Dumb, dumb, dumb. 

For one thing, you don't get anything of use for 75 cents. (Duh.) Worse, Intelius fraudulently bills people for more services than they ordered. Luckily, I very carefully check my credit/debit card statements. First thing I noticed was that they charged me $0.95, not $0.75 for the one-time report. Well, no big deal, I thought. What's 20 cents?

But then I discovered that Itelius had also charged me $19.95 for their monthly service! I very carefully did not click on any button that authorized them to charge me for a monthly service.

I called my bank and canceled the card and am disputing the charge. In the process, I found out that Intelius had also charged me another monthly fee, so I'm disputing that too. Turns out it's all over the Internet that Intelius is doing this to others too. So, lessons learned:
  1. Research services before you buy them. Duh. 
  2. Don't buy stupid stuff on the Internet. Save your money for useful things like clothes, shoes, hair products, books, and electronic gadgets.
  3. Use a credit card, not a debit card. Debit cards don't offer as much protection against fraudulent use as credit cards do. With most credit cards, you're only liable for a small amount. Not so with debit cards. Also, you're in a better position to dispute charges with a credit card because the scum bags don't have your money yet, whereas they do with a debit card.
  4. If it sounds too good to be true (a report for 75 cents), it probably is too good to be true.
  5. Don't waste time on vanity Googling! Google other people instead. 

1 comment:

  1. By the way, my bank got Intelius to refund one of the charges for the monthly service. Intelius still got away with charging me for one month, when I didn't order any monthly service whatsoever, but at least they made a minor attempt to do partly the right thing. A business model based on charging people for more than they bought and then refunding 1/2 of it probably works very well for them. :-) Argh. Well, I was dumb and I will pay the price and let it go now.