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Block after transient billing failure

Taff
Newbie
Posts: 5
Registered: 05-12-2007

Block after transient billing failure

This morning I had an email from Metronet to say that billing via credit card of one of my services had failed. I checked the registered card details on the portal and all is in order. Trying to make the payment (by clicking the Pay Now button) succeeded without having to re-enter the card details, proving that the problem was a transient one between Metronet and my bank.
It looks as though nothing has changed since October 2004 (well before PlusNet took over Metronet): Community Support Archive Forum » Topic: Problems with payment ? That user had the same problem with PlusNet!
This causes undue worry for users: Has my card been misused? Has my account been raided? Will my elderly father be deprived of his broadband because the supplier has its own back-office computer problems, unrelated to the service being provided?
Perhaps Metronet should try taking the payment twice before jumping to conclusions?
Taff.
13 REPLIES
James
Grafter
Posts: 21,036
Registered: 04-04-2007

Re: Block after transient billing failure

Hi there,
I'm sorry about this.
Our payment supplier experienced a brief outage between themselves and the Bank ofScotland (who they use) which caused some (not many) payments to fail.  Because this is part of an automated process, if a card payment fails, then the account would be marked as so.
I absoloutely appreciate that this is of no fault of your own and I'm sorry that this may have caused you an inconvenience.
Taff
Newbie
Posts: 5
Registered: 05-12-2007

Re: Block after transient billing failure

Quote from: Taff
...
Perhaps Metronet should try taking the payment twice before jumping to conclusions?
Taff.

Thanks, James, for the prompt response. The scenario is exactly what I suspected. But you haven't responded to my suggestion: if a second attempt to take payment were made after, say, 6 hours then the problem would not have caused any trouble for 'us users'.
David_W
Rising Star
Posts: 2,293
Thanks: 29
Registered: 19-07-2007

Re: Block after transient billing failure

They could, but there is no guarantee that your bank hasn't rejected the charge due to lack of funds and hit you with a £25 bill for the "honour" and then 6 hours later, another £25 bill.
I think its much safer to reject and allow the customer the chance to check funds and pay.
VileReynard
Seasoned Pro
Posts: 10,673
Thanks: 209
Fixes: 9
Registered: 01-09-2007

Re: Block after transient billing failure

No human intervention took place after a known failure - such as a phone call or email (until contacted by the customer).
Isn't an apology in some financial form appropriate?

Community Veteran
Posts: 1,886
Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: Block after transient billing failure

Lets play devils advocate here..
Why should MN/PN/F9 pay a gesture of goodwill to a customer, when a payment clearing house fails because of a system problem, which is totally out of MN/PN/F9's control..
However, on the other side of the coin, I do think that someone from PlusNet towers in collections/payments/whatever you call it, should have picked up the phone, called the affected customers and done the CC payment over the phone..
Another scenario to explore.
In the event that a CC/DD has failed, then instead of cutting off the customer immediately, a period of 24 hours should be given in order that PN/MN/F9 may contact the customer by phone (Not email or ticket) to rectify the situation and offer all assistance available to the customer as the vast majority of the time, the failed billing is due to the clearing houses, so there is no way that the customer should be penalised for it..
VileReynard
Seasoned Pro
Posts: 10,673
Thanks: 209
Fixes: 9
Registered: 01-09-2007

Re: Block after transient billing failure

Well, taking an opposing view:- Grin
PlusNet employ an (unnamed) "Payment Provider" to transfer funds into Bank of Scotland. The "Payment Provider" had a communications outage with BoS.
Now you could blame PlusNet, "Payment Provider", communications provider etc. It's so easy to pass the buck.
Someone should take responsibility - I suggest the customers point of contact (PlusNet). Ideally, PlusNet would recover compensation from any or all of the other organizations in the chain.
PS Maybe the credit card company could chip in too.

James
Grafter
Posts: 21,036
Registered: 04-04-2007

Re: Block after transient billing failure

I suspect that for us to gain a level of compensation from our payment supplier, then I imagine that we would have to pay an extortionate of money.
The double payment suggestion is an idea, but duplicated fees for having insufficient funds in an account would not go down well.
Emma
Grafter
Posts: 138
Registered: 10-09-2007

Re: Block after transient billing failure

There is already a failed billing team in place but I believe that is once an account has had a couple of days in a failed billing state.
They try and call the customer and arrange payment over the phone, sometimes even this doesn't help and customers may have to call in if they've missed the two attempts made.
In this case as the OP picked up on the payment being missed immediately the account should be back online quicker than the billing team noticing.
Community Veteran
Posts: 3,214
Thanks: 239
Fixes: 3
Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: Block after transient billing failure

Taking the idea from one of the companies who I make regular CC payments to:
(I only know they done this since they couldn't bill my credit card once. Still don't know why, the account was open, details were valid/had not expired, and I had used that card elsewhere that month).
I got a notification that they couldn't take payment, and they'd try to take the payment again 2 days later. If that one failed they would try again 2 days after that before blocking my account. So a kind of 3 strikes system there.
In the event of a supplier failure, as has happened here, then it's likely the 2nd or 3rd attempt will go through a few days later at no inconvience to the customer. Although I guess as has been said, that you could be hit by multiple penalities by your supplier Sad
(Edited after re-reading thread since some of what I said was wrong!)
James
Grafter
Posts: 21,036
Registered: 04-04-2007

Re: Block after transient billing failure

Alex,
Could that not potentially result in your bank charging you 3 times for not having enough funds in your account?
Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 9,126
Thanks: 535
Fixes: 46
Registered: 06-04-2007

Re: Block after transient billing failure

In my opinion the wording of messages sent when an automated payment fails would benefit from a softer approach. Even the one advising that the monthly DD payment is about to be taken comes over as unnecessarily aggressive to me.
Please note - It is important that your payment details are valid and you have enough funds in your account on … as failure to do so will result in your … account being disabled.
Unless a large number of PlusNet customers habitually don't pay their bills couldn't this simply say
Please ensure your payment details are valid and you have enough funds in your account on … for the payment to be taken.
Surely the consequences of not paying are implicit in the terms and conditions of supplying the service (any service, from any supplier).
In my case if the payment fails it is almost certain that the automated system will have failed, and it would be far friendlier to base any "failed billing" message on that assumption. With DD payments the time delay in confirmation might make automatic resubmission unsatisfactory but I expect confirmation for CC payments is instant. I see no objection to an advice message to verify card details and credit being sent with a "pay now" link for use if desired, but mentioning an automatic retry after 24 or 48 hours. If that also fails the customer might be hit with two "insufficient credit" charges, but I don't think that need concern PlusNet, since they've given the customer time to resolve the problem.
If the second payment fails it is then time for the Failed Billing Team to step in and follow this up with the customer.
David
itsme
Grafter
Posts: 5,924
Thanks: 1
Registered: 07-04-2007

Re: Block after transient billing failure

Do credit card companies charge customers on a refused transaction? I not aware of any charges. Banks on the other hand will charge for a bounce cheque.
Community Veteran
Posts: 3,214
Thanks: 239
Fixes: 3
Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: Block after transient billing failure

Quote from: Jameseh
Could that not potentially result in your bank charging you 3 times for not having enough funds in your account?

Yep I guess it would James, thankfully I've only ever missed a credit card due date a couple of times and been hit. Any other times payment has failed has not been my fault.
But when writing the last post I forgot that banks can charge per failed transaction, which doesn't make it a good system after all Roll eyes