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back to article Apple swipes £121 for 'free' MobileMe trial

Europeans who signed up to a trial of MobileMe are finding mysterious charges on their payment cards of up to £121...for what they thought was a free look at Apple's answer to MS-Exchange. Anyone wanting to have a go on MobileMe must enter credit card details so they can pay for the service when their 60-days free trial expires …

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pot, meet kettle.

"<snip> Or maybe you're just a troll."

Thus spake the Anonymous Coward...

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@Ron Eve and others - re Card pre-authorisation

"Flames aplenty. Facts a few" said Ron. Well, it might have helped his case if he'd been a bit more clued up himself - indeed, there appears to be widespread confusion here so let's introduce some facts...

What appears to have happened in the case of MobileMe is that Apple has *pre-authorised* cards for the sum of £121 - a pre-authorisation is not the same as the money actually being taken, instead what happens is that the bank or credit card company reserves the requested amount - a typical application of this happening is when you book into a hotel the system will ringfence a certain sum as a deposit, and anything up to that sum can then be charged onto that account if you then do a runner (even if you cancel your card). On a less dramatic level, it can help to ensure that a hotel customer will have enough dosh in their account/ enough credit available to actually pay the bill when they leave (though this isn't a guarantee as other offline transactions may have subsequently been billed to the account, but let's keep it simple!).

What Apple and countless other companies do is utilise this facility for a different purpose - that of ensuring that the card details submitted by users (or potential customers) are valid, and - as the article states - they do this by pre-authorising the card for an amount "typically the equivalent of one US dollar ($1USD)" (the text from the MobileMe T&C's actually just uses the word "authorization" but I'm certain that what they actually do is a pre-authorisation - they're just keeping the language simple so as not to get too technical).

Or at least Apple should have pre-authorised the cards for US$1 - however it appears that they've managed to pre-authorise them for £121 - which at around US$240, somewhat more than the promised US$1.

This thus means that people who used debit cards can't get access to that £121 in their bank account, whilst credit card users will find that £121 of their available credit has disappeared. A potential problem for both sets of people, though debit card users are more likely to end up in trouble because of this if they don't have a lot of slack with regards to their bank account (i.e. no overdraft facility, or just as likely not enough of an overdraft left!). This could mean that direct debit payments get returned, which may well lead to charges being imposed by both the bank and the company collecting the payment.

In essence, Apple (or indeed anyone) screwing up like this entails some of their customers getting screwed up, and as such it's a surefire way to royally piss people off.

But hold on, its not Apple's fault, it's their customers fault... apparently.

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Jobs Horns

mmm

What ever you thing of Mac PCs one thing is for sure Apple rape their customers on everything

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Mobile me tried to bill me over £1000...

I had a call from the credit card fraud team at my bank at the weekend. Turns out that Apple attempted to bill me £120...

...plus the actual cost of £60 of the service...six times....

...plus the upgrade to a family pack cost of £30.....about 30 times....

...and I still didn't get my upgrade.

The email I had from Apple promised another email with an explanation within the week which I haven't seen yet.

To be fair in 20 years to using Apple personally and professionally this is the only real screw-up I have had, but as screw-ups go, it's pretty messy.

Free service would be an nice apology. But I'd settle for an explanation and an actual apology from someone with some seniority.

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Jobs Halo

Goodholyflaminggod!

Someone accused Webster of being an Apple fanboy.

And they did it an not-taking-the-piss way.

Was that Satan ski-ing past my window, on his way to the late shift?

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Jobs Halo

Apple=Evil

More evidence that apple are basically evil. Much much worse than MS/IBM/any of the technology incumbents.

the halo because compared to steve jobs SB is an angel....

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what a sh*t name!

'mobile me!' sounds like a request to have a cellphone inserted into one's orifice.

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Happy

Hold the front page !

In breaking news today, Webster Phreaky was seriously accused of being an Appletard.

Also, four strange looking guys on horses were spotted asking the way to the Whitehouse.

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Bronze badge

Two comments:

Firstly, for our American brethrens, please be aware that most of us outside of the US-of-A have had access to Credit Cards, Debit Cards *and* (as of about a decade ago) this new-fangled Credit-Card-linked-to-a-Debit-account. I have, for example, a Visa Debit card. In other words, it acts for all intents and purposes like a Credit card as far as vendors are concerned but only accesses funds I actually have in my Debit account. Quite popular in Oz and the banks here are now issuing them in preference to normal Debit cards.

Secondly, if Apple has published information saying the charge that will be taken out of your account is US$1, then they *are* in breach and you can go to your bank and file a fraud claim. *Especially* if you used a credit card or a MC-Debit/VS-Debit card. Either way, it will now be up to Apple to prove that you authorised *that amount*. And since, apparently, they did not require you to click on an "i agree" screen specifying *that amount* they will have a hard time defending it. Once a few hundred people complain and the banks start having to refund the money, Apple might notice the (large) fines being laid upon its account.

IANAL, YMMV, I just know about this 'cause I had to use it against a company which *did* try this little trick on me. They rely on the "sheeple" mentally and hope few people will raise the point with the relevant authorities.

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@Mark Daniels

> So, this 120 quid, is this on top of the network charges for airtime/ download megs ?

Erm, no, that's a mistake... didn't you read the article. Mobile Me is 60ukp.

>then they steal 120 quid for an email service that, frankly, is free on almost every other phone I can think of.

Actually, Vodafone, for example, charged me 15ukp/month for push email. BIS (Blackberry Internet Service) service wasn't free from any providers when I last looked (though that may have changed recently). As has been stated there are free options you can use (Y!).

Apple have been pretty good at fixing mistakes in my experience. I got a years free Mobile Me when queuing at the Apple store for my phone as an apology for the delay (as well as a continuous supply of caffeine ;) ). I got an email this week as well apologising for the launch teething issues giving me another free month.

I thought that was pretty good service myself.

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Re: @Ron Eve and others - re Card pre-authorisation

“…it's a surefire way to royally piss people off.”

One would hope that Apple will provide any necessary compensation, without too much fuss. I hope they’ll accept something like copies of bank statements and utility bills that link up with the MobileMe account and show the charges cause by Apple’s error(s). Although, obviously, if you’re claiming a very large amount, this isn’t going to work.

You may be able to convince your card issuer that there was no proper authorisation for the amount that was ring fenced. However, as you’re not contesting that the Continuous Payment Authority as a whole is invalid, just a specific amount, issuers may be unwilling to investigate. Even where any bank charges are reversed, this won’t cover consequential damage – charges imposed by other companies failing to collect their payments.

The alternative to Apple willingly helping their customers would be Apple’s customers having to take Apple to court to recover losses. This would make the PR problem a whole lot worse.

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it's just a cockup

a cockup, pure and simple. No corporate intention to steal from you or manipulate you; no intention to pre-authorize the service cost; simply a need to confirm that it's a current card in good standing. This unrelated charge is simply a massive software bug; it appears that no entry appears in Apple's accounts for the charge. Such a basic bug that they don't even know who they've charged. Incompetent; not evil. Unlike, for example, Dell, Apple don't charge your card when you order hardware either, they charge when it ships.

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Jobs Horns

Free push email

If you want push email use mail2web its free and does work.

Im not an apple fan boy but I do like my iphone.

I should thank Apple, because they annoyed me so much with this, I looked elsewhere, and found a free push solution.

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Paris Hilton

@pctechxp

How exactly do you get your head get around the cognitive dissonance of stating (with no obvious irony) in the same posting that:

1. Steve jobs [doesn't] charg[e] a fair price for a decent product, oh no.

2. You own a iPod Nano

3. You have bought several tracks from iTunes

So your iPod (purchased through some route) was a fair price and is a decent product because it connects to your stereo.

And iTunes is a decent product (if not a fair price) because it has tracks you can't get elsewhere.

Paris, because she's also having trouble figuring this one out...

I'm still puzzled as to why Apple didn't outsource the whole thing to Google for a branded product. Google definitely *can* deliver the goods in terms of infrastructure and probably would have been happy to tout their handling of Apple's highest-profile launch in years. Some negotiation around revenue and advertising features would probably have delivered something for nearly everyone (as long as you didn't mind having your email reamed by Google, of course).

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Jobs Horns

Try 6 x £121

I've been hit 6 times. I've had to tell the bank that it was fraudulent activity on my card because of the unusual amount. I'd have understood if it was the £59 yearly fee, but £121! Nightmare!

Waiting to get a call from Apple Support to sort this mess out.

DOH!

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running the tapes

has some one been running the BACS tapes program twice? and add 2.5% sales tax ?

8.25% in Cupertino odd.

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Jobs Halo

Apple responds - Apologises, fixes problem and offers 30 day extension

http://www.macrumors.com/2008/07/19/apple-sends-another-mobileme-apology-e-mail-and-extension/

"Apple is now offering those affected an additional 30 days to their trial service above and beyond the original 30 day extension for the rocky transition. As a result, affected users will get a total of 120 days of free trial MobileMe service before they are required to start their subscription."

Nice.

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Pirate

Or

As Nelson Muntz would say about the Cupertino Pirates in the Apple La La isle "Ha! Ha!"

Very nice line of fraud Apple is doing !

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@ Nathan Boal

"Apple responds - Apologises, fixes problem and offers 30 day extension "

30 free days for being locked out of the account sounds OK. 30 free days for bank-related snafu, potential overdraft charges and/or bad credit reports seems a bit, hem, ridiculous. £121 can be a lot, especially when charged 6 times or more as reported by previous comments.

Also, about Webster Phreaky, I noticed a change in his attitude for a while now, seems he's going postal on Linux now and not on Apple anymore, I guess it says all on who is MS real competitor now (and who isn't anymore). If I were Jobs, I'd be very worried by Mr Phreaky's target change.

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