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Is Overture breaking the law?

     
9:36 am on Sep 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I have an account with Overture. It was on the non-stop payment basis. My money ran out and they could not charge my credit card. So I received an email with the following subject:

Your Overture Non-Stop Acct: xyyyzzz is Now Offline

The email body said that balance was low and they couldn't charge your credit card. "Unfortunately, we were unable to add sufficient funds to your account to keep it online."

"As we were unable to replenish your account to cover future clickthroughs to your site, we have temporarily suspended interrupted your service."

To me, this indicates the account is offline. But they continued to send me clickthroughs and charged me for 6 months.

I said I am not paying as they said it was offline. They said if I want an account with them, I have to clear the balance.

Opinions please? I'm steaming here!

Jon

10:21 am on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I do see the word "temporarily suspended" in there, indicating it may go back online....
tough one
10:37 am on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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But they never took my account offline. They admitted they had a system error and this does not normally happen. But they said I had the benefit of the clickthroughs. But I never gave them permission to put my account online again.

Does anyone know where I can get a copy of the Terms & Conditions of signup back in 2002?

11:00 am on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Did you not get monthly emails from Overture outlining your clickthroughs and spending? These should surely have come to your attention at some point in the last 6 months?
11:36 am on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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They all get filtered into a folder that I don't look at.

I see it like this:

1. They said they took my account offline.

2. I did not make any further payments.

3. They didn't take my account offline. This was a system error.

4. The error is theirs and they should take responsibility for it.

5. If you say "Unfortunately, we were unable to add
sufficient funds to your account to keep it online." in an email, it says to me that unless I add sufficient funds they will not keep it online. Therefore, they are erroneously giving me clickthroughs.

12:03 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Sounds to me like maybe you knew about it and let it go. But since that's unprovable, I still think it's their fault and they should pay -- it's like when the premium cable stations come through by mistake. Who actually calls the cable company to have them turned off?
12:06 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Did you not get monthly emails from Overture outlining your clickthroughs and spending? These should surely have come to your attention at some point in the last 6 months?

They all get filtered into a folder that I don't look at.

Logic sez: kind of exempts you from the right to squeak about it. Any company can make an error. But if you route all subsequent notifications and correspondence straight to trash(?) unread, or let them pile up like people who ignore their utility bills, and those communiques were sent to the proper eMail address you provided for your account....

Sounds to me like the negligent party here is you.

Given the fact that, as submissoR notes:

I do see the word "temporarily suspended" in there, indicating it may go back online

...my suggestion is to wake up and smell the coffee, my friend. In my opinion, you seem to be in the psychological state known as 'denial'. You were notified of a status clearly described as temporary, then ignored all subsequent notifications of the evolution of that status. Sounds from here like a pretty cut-and-dried scenario.

12:27 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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They said they took my account offline due to non-payment. But they didn't. Their policy is not to charge when your account is zero. I paid them no extra money. How can it be negligent of me? I am not responsible for their errors.

"Your Overture search listings have generated many clickthroughs to your site! Because your account balance was low, we attempted to charge your credit card to replenish your account, as part of your enrollment
in the Non-Stop Traffic plan. Unfortunately, we were unable to add sufficient funds to your account to keep it online. Usually this is caused by a problem with your specified payment method (expired credit card, exceeded credit limit, etc.)"

This statement clearly indicates that you need sufficient funds to keep your account online. And the statement temporarily suspended means until you have paid.

Are you telling me that is not what they mean? Are you saying that they did not make a mistake? Why would they say your account has stopped and then continue to charge you unless they were in error?

You have not stated what I am denying. But it is clear you are denying their resposibility for their error.

12:37 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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How much are they wanting to charge you?

If it is for clickthroughs, it is debatable and the case of argument can go both ways - both you and Overture have neglected your account.

But if it is for the minimum clickthrough ($20 or £20 per month), then you have to pay that regardless - this is part of the terms. You owe them at least six months - $120 (or £120) for failing to go online and cancel your account.

Perhaps if you offer to pay that amount, they may accept and forget the other clicks. Then cancel the account if you don't want it.

12:39 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Great news! They have finally agreed to reduce my balance to zero as it was their error. It took a lot of effort but I feel as though I have a victory!

Elated.

12:41 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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As in my previous post - cancel the account online if you don't want it anymore.
2:45 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I went over their wording with a fine tooth comb. Here's an interpretation:

It says you were enrolled in a nonstop plan, but that they were unable to charge your card according to the terms of that plan, which is to keep your ads online all the time. It DOES NOT say your ads were removed or would stop running.

Unfortunately Overture's verbiage is just indirect enough (despite unmistakable clarity of implication/meaning) to allow you, with enough persistence, to weasel through it if you get a complacent employee on the line who's willing to cave in to a persistent pest.

If they stuck to their guns they would have had every right to insist you pay. You got out of this not by force of being right, but by being a pest.

So...congratulations. Sort of.

Hopefully Overture's corporate culture is aware enough to take a second look and tighten up their text. And hopefully in future you'll read your frigging eMail where ongoing contractual commitment of money is involved.

3:27 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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"It DOES NOT say your ads were removed or would stop running."

"read your frigging eMail"

You have clearly not read this thread very well. They said in an email they took my account offline.

You sound bitter beyond belief. Think you need to learn some manners. Let's keep threads on WebmasterWorld polite. We are here to help each other, not take out our stress on innocent people. Sad man.

3:41 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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This is a very common accepted business practice. Bill somebody and they will have to pay to get there service back or avoid a bad credit report. Most companies make money by being dishonest or by having bad computer programs. They know they have a problem but don't fix it becasue it makes them money. Land line and Cell phone companies do it all the time. I signed up for sprint and returned the cell phones the next day. I was told I did not owe anything and that everything was ok. I now get a $365 bill every month from them. They will not stop trying to collect it. I will have to go through a bunch of trouble to prove that I don't owe them anything. There ad said return for full refund and just pay for what you did. I paid them and they gave me a refund when I returned the phones. If I got a refund why do I now owe money?
3:45 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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In fairness to Oveture, it was a system error. But once the error was diagnosed, I was both amazed and disappointed that they were very reluctant to do the decent thing and clear the debt.
3:59 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Way to stick it To Overture! That's good to see.

However, you were acting pretty irresponsibly. Don't you check your stats or referrer logs? Don't you do searches on your keywords to check positions?

Anyway, nice job.

I had a 40 minute chat session with my cable company last week that resulted in a $50.00 credit. Was it worth it? Who knows- but it felt like I had won a small battle.

4:04 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>>Land line and Cell phone companies do it all the time. I signed up for sprint

You haven't seen the worst till you meet with the monster in the name of AT&T :(

4:12 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Whatever, Jon...

The guy
signed up for a plan
maxed-out his credit card
didn't even check his eMail
didn't cancel the plan
then blamed Overture

You can call me whatever you wish. As for 'beyond belief'...apparently we have different levels of credulity.

4:17 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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OT, but here's a letter I wrote to AT&T last year.

-------------------------------

To Whom It May Concern:

This is the first letter of complaint that I have composed in my 27 years of life; my dissatisfaction with a company or product had not ever, before this, reached the point where I’ve felt compelled to commit it to paper. My sheer exasperation with AT&T Wireless is further exacerbated by the fact that my last resort is to type a letter and mail it to a post office box in Cerritos, California.

I have been a customer of AT&T Wireless since August of 1999. I have paid monies well over $25,000 for your “services” during the course of almost four years. Despite years of paying AT&T’s extremely high rates, I hadn’t considered leaving until now. The events of today amounted to a bureaucratic nightmare which I now have no choice but to remember for the rest of my life.

On 4/15/03 I called to inquire why service on numbers 917.***.**** and 312.***.**** had been suspended. At that time, I was informed that the ‘917’ account was on a bad plan and we’d gone over on minutes. I paid down the $800 bill and upgraded the plan. I also paid the (outrageous as usual) ‘312’ bill and upgraded that plan.


On 5/28/03 I called to inquire why service had been suspended again. I paid the new bill on the ‘312’ account ($600). Then I spoke with a representative about the ‘917’ account who told me that there had been “no note of a rate change on April fifteenth,” and that I now owed OVER ELEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS on the ‘917’ account.


I informed her that, at this rate, I’m paying about $15,000 a year for cell phones. She laughed and said she couldn’t change the plan. She transferred me to “Jonathan” at extension 55217 who informed me that he wouldn’t reduce the amount because there was “no note of a rate change on April fifteenth.”


THEN HE INFORMED ME THAT HE WAS THE FINAL DECISION MAKER AND THAT MY ONLY RECOURSE WAS TO TYPE A LETTER AND SEND IT TO A POST OFFICE BOX IN CERRITOS CALIFORNIA.


I called one of your agents and both accounts are to be cancelled at the end of this billing cycle. To further humiliate and enrage this once loyal customer, they have charged me an additional $175 cancellation fee on each account, creating a three hundred and fifty dollar kick in the arse on my way out. I’m sure somewhere along the line I signed something which allowed AT&T Wireless to treat me like this, but that doesn’t make it right. At this point, reparations of some kind are not only appreciated but expected.

Sincerely,
Robino

4:26 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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hey Robino,
I just read your copied letter to AT&T...trying to see any parallels between the two scenarios, other than that you're both disgruntled customers (of two entirely different corporations) and for what appear to be unrelated complaints. Legit or not, you just posted this thing in order to vent, commiserate or what?
Maybe we can start a new thread...
4:38 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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OT= Off Topic. (Not pertaining to the original topic)
So next time you see "OT", you might want to skip the post if you're so offended.

And maybe you didn't see where someone mentioned AT&T.

So relax, Thread Police!

4:48 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I see...so merely writing 'OT' exempts you from staying on topic instead of wasting everyone's time.
Good to know-
Thanks for the heads up.
4:50 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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"didn't even check his eMail"

Yet again, you don't read the thread. I read their email that says "Account offline". That leaves you with even less credibility than before.

If a company stops a service due to non-payment, it is not the responsibility of the user to check that they are no longer supplying.

Robino:

"you were acting pretty irresponsibly"

I only have so much time. I get hundreds of emails daily. This was only a small part of my marketing on one site. I have lots of sites! Once Oveture said they had suspended my account due to non-payment, I thought, "That's fine. I am not too interested in any more traffic from them for that account anyway." So I left it as it was.

It would be irresponsible for me to focus my time checking up on low ROI stuff.

4:57 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I'm not sure what the problem is. Do you want to start doing OV again and don't want to pay there fee. Just create a new account with another credit card.
5:02 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Credibility (the quality, capability, or power to elicit belief)
is what you lack.

Credulity (a disposition to believe too readily)
is what you want from us.

I think it's time for me to disable the eMail notifications from this thread and say bye-bye.
You guys can go on happily thinking you're stickin' it to the man, along with all the congratulations and self-congratulations...
I've got bigger fish to fry.
Have fun

[edited by: luckychucky at 5:22 pm (utc) on Sep. 21, 2004]

5:06 pm on Sept 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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At last, this thread can become civil again! :D
5:18 am on Sept 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If a company tells you your acount is offline, you should be able to put some faith in that & they ought to stand behind what they tell you. Nice that it worked out in the end.

<OT>
ATTWS, still with them (since 99) & they used to be really good but for months had to call them weekly over and over and over to merely get them to stop billing me for add on services that were never asked for. They are the worst.
</OT>

12:11 pm on Sept 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Hi there, me again. Here's a few excerpts from Overture's TOS. I'll keep myself from name-calling in return, though it's a huge temptation. 'Bitter, Sad' Jon, and the dim bulb who StickyMailed me solely to call me a 'jerk', kindly keep your self-sticking labels to yourselves, thanks. BTW, You're all wrong, dead wrong: Take a moment and read. Certainly, if you can read irrelevant, rambling, incoherent irate-consumer rants to AT&T, you can read the contract you agreed to when you opened your account. Yes, read your 'frigging' eMail, and read your frigging contracts:

If you fail to provide Overture with any of the foregoing information, you agree that Overture may continue charging your account for use of any of the Overture Marketplaces, Programs, and/or the Overture Web Sites (defined in Section 4 below) unless you have terminated the Agreement or Program Terms...

Overture may offer you the opportunity to enroll in a payment plan ("Payment Plan") to manage charges to your account. If you enroll in a Payment Plan, you agree to be bound by the terms of that Payment Plan. Non-Stop and Fixed Budget Payment Plans are offered on a periodic basis and are self-renewing unless or until your participation in such Payment Plan is terminated by you or Overture...

Your non-termination or continued use of an Overture Marketplace, Programs, and/or the Overture Web Sites reaffirms that Overture is authorized to charge your Payment Method automatically. Overture may submit those charges for payment and you will be responsible for such charges...

you may elect to discontinue your enrollment in the Payment Plan at any time by providing written notice to Overture before the effective date of such modified terms. Your continued enrollment constitutes your acceptance of the terms of the Payment...

NON-STOP TRAFFIC PAYMENT PLAN: Under the Non-Stop Traffic Payment Plan, you preauthorize Overture to charge periodically your Payment Method on a recurring basis for the amount specified. If you equal or exceed this amount, this Payment Plan ensures uninterrupted service for you by (i) automatically replenishing your account using your Payment Method, (ii) paying for all charges in excess of the amount you have preauthorized, and (iii) applying the remaining balance to future charges. Your Payment Method will be charged for the preauthorized amount whenever your account has fewer than approximately three (3) days worth of funds remaining, as determined by Overture in its sole discretion. The foregoing amount then will be credited to your account and, after any debit balance that you may have incurred for charges not paid is first deducted, the balance will be available to pay for future charges; thus, while the amount charged to your Payment Method will remain the same from month-to-month, the amount actually available in your account to pay for future charges will vary depending upon the charges you have incurred. Overture will send you a notification to the e-mail address associated with your account after each such preauthorized transaction to notify you that your account has been replenished and your Payment Method debited. Such charges will appear on the periodic statement sent to you by the provider of your Payment Method. Unless you discontinue your enrollment in this Payment Plan, you understand that this preauthorization is valid until the termination of the Agreement with Overture or the discontinuation of, or your participation in, this Payment Plan as determined by Overture...

12:53 pm on Sept 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

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You are referring to a recent contract. I signed up a couple of years ago and so we cannot see what the TOC where back then.

Just accept it, nobody cares for your bitterness on here. You want to stir up trouble and annoy people. No wonder you got called a jerk. Open your eyes or learn some manners.

You are obviously not a man of your word as you are still posting, despite saying you wouldn't!

1:22 pm on Sept 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Bitter, schmitter, Jon. You're funny.
Denial so extreme, even in the face of incontestable actual fact, is truly shocking. Wow.
Let's review:

You were enrolled in the Nonstop Payment Plan.

You were properly notified of a temporary suspension because you failed to pay according to the terms of that plan.

Then you ignored your eMails from Overture for 6 months. And jumped online here to trumpet your self-righteous indignation over how you were so sorely cheated (you weren't) and gloat over your false victory--how eventually, through sheer persistent annoyance alone, you were able to weasel out of it...

...spreading woefully inaccurate misinformation in your wake. When confronted with your errors you simply resort to bitter name-calling. Very bitter indeed.
Pathology on parade. Can't you do any better, bitter man?

Re-read, Jon. In point of fact (slow down now and think, please) I actually said I was disabling auto-notifications. That's because every five minutes I received notice of yet another inane post to this thread...and a big waste of valuable time.

This 71 message thread spans 3 pages: 71