Barriers to Buying

Below is a letter I wrote to my friend in Thailand after he highly recommended we experience the latest video game Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2).  He had suggested PlayStation 4 (PS4) but because of two reasons (mentioned below), we went with Microsoft (M$) Xbox One X (XOX).

Seasons Greetings Claudio,

OMG, I don’t know why we went with XOX instead of PS4.  As Troy says, it is backwards compatible, which I’m happy to see was true in his email, and the RDR2 game was designed to play on this box (from what I read).  But it was a deja vue nightmare replayed again over the phone with the M$ support teams.  Fortunately, the rep we got was persistent after putting us on hold to find an answer then coming back saying, “hello…hello…hello?”  Click.  Ring, Ring, Ring.  It was M$ support calling us back.

I repeatedly told the rep that all we want to do is play this fucking game.  Why is this so difficult compared to a DVD player?  Why do we have to have a fucking M$ account to play a game?  They are so fucking stupid.  We pay $400 for a box that we have to create an account to get a security code that the fucking controller couldn’t put the cursor into the input field to enter the security code.  That is, one of three security codes M$ sent us.  But I will say the support rep was extremely patient and consoling through the whole mess.  I’m sure she did something that overrode the security crap and we finally got into the game, as Troy said.

Since this saga took so long, I didn’t even get a chance to experience the game before going to bed.  Besides picking up the XOX from Target, I found another anomaly of this house when attempting to dig up plant tubers in the back yard.  Apparently, when someone installed the yard plumbing, the idiot didn’t glue the PVC pipes and had somehow jerry rigged the pipes to stay sealed underground, ever since I bought the house some 20 years ago.  So, when I was digging I tapped the pipe just right and it gushed water out of a totally exposed 1/2” pipe.

My attempt to patch the connection was another mistake because I didn’t realize the elbow joint was cracked, so it spewed water after my first patch attempt.  In order for us to have water in the house, I just capped the pipe and will have to replace the whole section later today, so we have water in our backyard again.

Please don’t take this as anger or directed at you.  I just wanted to document how difficult life is in the US these days.  Oh, I totally forgot until now that just purchasing the XOX product took multiple attempts BECAUSE OF MY UNIVERSAL ONE VISA CREDIT CARD!

Just after lunch, Troy and I discussed the purchasing criteria of the XOX vs PS4.  Fortunately, these outlets are sophisticated enough to tell buyers if they have the product in stock or not.  Best Buy and Target were the two stores near one another that I planned to make a run to get the game and player, as well as other stuff, like pipe parts.  Best Buy did not have it in stock there but did at a different store 9 miles away.  So I went with Target, filled out the credit card information, and was rejected and told to call my bank.

I’m like what the fuckity fuck?  I order products all over the world and here my card is refused?  So, I checked my Visa account to confirm it hadn’t been overdrafted and was relieved to find there was plenty of available credit, as I expected, to purchase the product.  After I called the Target electronics department, I learned they were having problems with credit card validations, so I decided to try the Best Buy, 9 miles away.

Same exact thing happened.  So, I called Universal One Credit Union, punched a bunch of numbers into the phone, waited patiently for someone to answer, then learned my card had an alert on it.  I asked what is the alert and why is it on my card only to learn she couldn’t tell me but someone in fraud prevention could.  So I waited yet more time to speak to someone in that department.

The fraud prevention rep was a gabby woman whom E.B. White would have hated with all the needless words.  Turns out there were three reasons my card was rejected:
1.  The purchase price exceeded the card’s online authorization.
2.  There is a lot of fraud going on these days.
3.  WalMart, Target, and Best Buy are frequently victims of fraud.

These were all new to me and hadn’t heard anything about them.  Once we got past all this bullshit, the rep authorized the purchase at whatever store I chose and my Target order was confirmed as authorized.

I don’t know how primitive it is in Thailand but I can’t imagine it is anything worse than here with bloated crime prevention mechanisms and lack of communications.  Building this rover (and other home projects) has forced me to purchase products in Canada, England, the Netherlands, and China.  When I had a fraudulent job offer in July, I had reserved a car at Avis where their stupid website duplicated the reservation and charged my credit card for the full amount of the rental.  After I called them to cancel the whole reservation, they stuck me with a $50 reservation cancellation fee.  I was livid and called Visa to dispute all of the charges and just this week received a letter stating all of those transactions were refunded.  YAY Visa!

So, all of these international and Avis transactions have forced me to contact Visa repeatedly to dispute charges, confirm PayPal payments, or open the card for 24 hours to place a direct order.  I just learned this morning that our Netherlands order for fertilizer was refunded for unknown reason and it’s the only place on the planet we can order this specific product.

Talk about barriers to buying.  Two steps forward, three steps backwards.  But we’ve accomplished our goal getting RDR2.  Now I’m ready to enter the Matrix to enjoy the Wild West of ‘MeriKKKa!  Yee-Haw, as JR would say.

Best wishes,
Frank