give my credit card to scumbags?
February 24, 2007 8:58 PM   Subscribe

Can a company force me to pay by credit card?

I had a free account with a web-hosting company, 1 and 1, using which I bought a couple of domains. Before the free trial expired I closed the account, but still owe about $18 for the domains, which 1&1 re-registered a couple of weeks before the account was closed.

1&1 billed my credit card, but the payment didn't go through because I'd lost the card thus had a different number. I don't want to give them my new card info because I don't trust them, so I've sent them a personal check (recorded delivery etc). Now they've emailed saying they will _only_ accept payment via a major credit card. Do I have to comply?

I know free "legal" advice is worth what's paid for it, but if anyone has ideas, please share. Perhaps it all boils down the the contractual agreement details -- I did accept their T&Cs when I got the account, by clicking the "I Agree" button.
posted by anadem to Law & Government (20 answers total)
 
I can't say whether or not they are in fact scumbags, but they seem to do enough business to where they're not going to mess around with credit card fraud. You have limited exposure and liability and you can always dispute any charges. Do you have a copy of the terms and conditions you agreed to? Usually, it's best to print those out...
posted by Burhanistan at 9:10 PM on February 24, 2007


What was in the original contract you agreed to? Do you have the ability to generate a virtual number? If so, you can pay by credit card without giving them your real number.
posted by clarkstonian at 9:16 PM on February 24, 2007


Send them cash. Certified. Photocopy it and the envelope before you send it.

"This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private." If they refuse to accept cash, you can invoke the wrath of god upon them. I'm serious.... refusing to take the US dollar is a federal offense. They can end up in Truly Deep Shit.

Send them cash, and the problem becomes theirs. If they tell you that cash is not acceptable in an email, you can just about have them crucified.
posted by Malor at 9:26 PM on February 24, 2007


Malor, the US Treasury says that's a myth. Unfortunately, businesses are allowed to restrict how they accept payment. Unreasonable, and should be illegal IMO but it's not currently.

But what dicks. Sheesh, you're even saving them a cc transaction fee, and eliminating risk of a chargeback. They should thank you.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 9:46 PM on February 24, 2007


Malor writes "Send them cash, and the problem becomes theirs. If they tell you that cash is not acceptable in an email, you can just about have them crucified."

Oh, Christ. No US Attorney is going to be interested in "crucifying" 1&1 over anadem's 18 bucks. Seriously. They won't care.

You can try sending cash if you like, but it's certainly within their rights to not accept a personal check. Maybe they'll take a money order.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:48 PM on February 24, 2007


Buy a Visa or AmEx gift card, and give them that number. Yeah, it will cost you a few more bucks, maybe, but it sticks it to the man, and that's what counts. Some banks will offer free cards to account holders.
posted by sdrawkcab at 9:57 PM on February 24, 2007


FWIW, 1&1 are big-time web hosts, and have been for quite a while. I know more than a few people how have been using them fo years, so they probably aren't trying to steal your card information.
posted by dantekgeek at 10:03 PM on February 24, 2007


As nakedcodemonkey points out, the "legal tender" thing is one of the most commonly misread elements of US law. It simply means the money is good and that you can accept it to satisfy all debts, public and private. It is not intended to imply that you must. IIRC, that message was put on there to allay the worries of dissenters when paper currency was first issued by the federal government and there were still quite a few who favored gold and silver.

Businesses absolutely have the right to stipulate the form payment takes, and while this may provide inconveniences, it's not entirely a bad thing. Checks are riskier than credit cards — and the important point is that credit cards are safer for the both of you. If they defraud you, you're legally only liable for fifty bucks. Granted, that's a lot more than eighteen, but still, only fifty bucks if you dispute the charges in a timely manner. Given others' assessments of 1&1's honesty, I think you're safe.

I like sdrawkcab's idea, if you really really don't want them to have your CC number. I don't know about "sticking it to the man," but it provides a layer of insulation. Buy a card with twenty bucks on it, give that to 1&1.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:16 PM on February 24, 2007


For many businesses taking personal checks is more trouble than its worth. Not only does it complicate the book keeping, but the hassle incurred when checks bounce is a real concern.

Its an interesting question though and Malor's answer reveals a very popular misconception about currency.

Two recent stories jump to mind: one about a restaurant that refuses to take cash, and another about a pizza shop that accepts pesos in addition to USD.
posted by wfrgms at 10:24 PM on February 24, 2007


"I did accept their T&Cs when I got the account, by clicking the "I Agree" button."

Well then you have to pay by credit card.

From 1&1's General Terms & Conditions of Service:

"3.1.
Certain 1&1 Services are subject to set-up, service, and domain service fees, pursuant to the Fee Schedule, and by registering for such 1&1 Services you authorize 1&1 to debit your credit card for any and all such fees. "

and

"3.3.
All Fees must be paid by major credit card in United States Dollars in advance of the provision of services. "

(emphasis added)
posted by falconred at 10:48 PM on February 24, 2007


FWIW, I use 1&1 and have had no problems. They're a fairly large and reputable company. You shouldn't have any problems giving them a card number.

If this mistrust stems from teh fact that you didn't cancel your account properly the first time, then well, it sucks, but it is technically your fault. Huge companies like AOL do the same thing.
posted by chrisamiller at 10:56 PM on February 24, 2007


Here's a solution. Many credit card companies offer one-time throw away numbers. Citibank does this. It generates a new one each time you hit the generate button (you have to download their software and login before using). I'm sure other credit card companies offer something similar.

That way you can pay them the $18 once and not worry about them charging you again without your consent.
posted by special-k at 11:15 PM on February 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Send them cash, and the problem becomes theirs. If they tell you that cash is not acceptable in an email, you can just about have them crucified.

This is completely false.
posted by oaf at 12:34 AM on February 25, 2007


1&1 did a similar thing to me last year. I refuse to give my details to such a company, so I got a new credit card with a company I've never used before or since, paid the balance of the account on that card, then cancelled the card and all services with 1&1.
posted by Solomon at 2:21 AM on February 25, 2007


I refuse to give my details to such a company, so I got a new credit card with a company I've never used before or since, paid the balance of the account on that card, then cancelled the card and all services with 1&1.

I don't quite understand the logic here. Are you seriously concerned that 1&1 would stick further charges on your card? As others here have said, they are a major host and a reputable company. I certainly wouldn't call them scumbags (fwiw, I have some domains hosted with them as well).

And if it's just a "stick it to the man" thing - surely you going through all that hassle is not sticking anything to them at all - especially as they won't even NOTICE you've done this - they're getting is a credit card number, which is what they asked for.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 4:32 AM on February 25, 2007


You can get a pre-paid credit card for $1.50.

p.s. I suspect that pre-paid credit cards are really for internet porn sites. You might imagine parents using em' for the kid's emergency credit card, but the bank starts taking your money after 6 months. Banks say they are gift cards, but they are pretty lame gifts:
Nice gift: Here is $100 since I don't know what you want.
Lame gift: I felt bad for not knowing what you wanted, so I've made your $100 complicated.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:00 AM on February 25, 2007


Yes, pre-paid credit card is your easiest solution, but make sure they don't also cash the check you sent! I'd ask them to mail it back, just to be a dick.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:05 AM on February 25, 2007


(side note: I now ONLY use cash because it's easier for me to control my spending. I sure hope that the 'no cash' thing doesn't spread, because I'd have to start avoiding those restaurants.)
posted by SpecialK at 6:48 AM on February 25, 2007


"FWIW, 1&1 are big-time web hosts, and have been for quite a while."

And they have an awful reputation of screwing over customers. They have a long track record of billing problems.

Get a pre-paid card, give them the #, and put a stop payment on that check you sent.

Just tell them that you no longer have a credit card. If they want the money, they'll come up with another solution.
posted by drstein at 1:29 PM on February 25, 2007


Nahh, stop payment is $20. But yes telling them you nolonger have a credit card is maybe the easiest solution. They'll cash that check if you say that.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:11 PM on February 25, 2007


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