Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

> If you accidentally purchased a bag of M&Ms from Amazon for 500 dollars instead of 5, they will let you undo it.

[citation needed]

Audible (part of Amazon) started billing me silently for a subscription I did not use, for several years, after I had used a free trial. When I discovered it and canceled the subscription, I could see how around the time the free trial was converted to a running paid subscription, they had also stopped emailing me about anything. My card was automatically charged in the middle of each month, for a relatively small amount, and the bank statement did not make it clear that it was for Audible - all clearly designed to make me not notice what was going on. It worked. All in all, they charged me hundreds of dollars for nothing.

Were they a good sport about it? No, I had to sit on the phone for half an hour to talk to someone with very poor English skills, and got only the last payment back.

> [citation needed]

You can cancel an order before it ships, and you can return items, can't you?

Oh crap, this comment reminded me that Amazon billed me again for Prime membership, after I canceled twice, once on their website, and once more through a customer support agent when I got billed after the first cancellation. I really need to contact them again.

FWIW Audible emails me every month to tell me have a new credit available. Possibly put in place after your experience; but it seems more like just "keeping people engaged in our service" is a better way to sustain subscriptions than hoping people forget about it.

And, not to victim-blame here, but I can't quite understand your response to mysterious charges that appear on your card every month. I try to understand where each and every transaction comes from; and if I were to get one I didn't understand several in a row, I'd call the credit card company to contest the charge / get the merchant blocked / get a new credit card.

> FWIW Audible emails me every month to tell me have a new credit available.

Perhaps you actually use your Audible account? As I said, they emailed me during the trial, then stopped. They know a certain percentage of users will be unaware of the charges, and they likely prefer to keep it that way.

> not to victim-blame here

Thanks, but you did just that anyway. I know I could have been more careful. I was responding to a comment claiming that Amazon is forgiving when a customer accidentally spends 100’s of dollars they didn’t mean to, which, given what happened to me, simply isn’t true.

Good on you for reviewing each and every transaction, but I have no reason to believe that most people do that.

Not sure how Audible works, all I know is I seem to have a never ending supply of free credits. Been using it for years, every time I finish a book they give me more free credits to buy the next book.

You seriously review every single transaction on all of your credit cards?

How many lifetime hours do you think you've spent doing this , and how much money have you saved?

Yes? I'm a USian living in the UK, so I've got 2 "active" credit cards and 2 "active" bank accounts. When I get my monthly statement, I take 2-3 minutes to skim through the transactions. That's 10-15 minutes per month. Given that a bogus transaction could be in the thousands, I think that's a sensible precaution. In addition to catching any unexpected transactions, it gives me a quick overview of how much I've spent this month and on what, so I can maybe factor that in to how much I spend in the next month.

And it's a heck of a lot less time than I spend on HackerNews. :-D

Yes, of course. I keep my receipts, and when my statement comes in I compare one to the other. That plus everything else I do that could qualify as "accounting" (except tax returns) comes in at probably less than half an hour per month, and saved me a couple of hundred dollars when someone stole my credit card number (plus however much more they would have taken if I hadn't cancelled the card when I found out).

Nope, but I do note in an app every time I make a transaction, and on which account it was charged to.

At the end of the statement month, I can compare totals, and if they match, I don't need to review anything else.

Maintaining any kind of budget requires tracking spending, so this isn't really a big deal if you practice any kind of proactive financial management.

It sounds like you are saying you essentially keep your own personal ledger of every charge you make, and then reconcile the total against the statement each month.

When I did this using MS Money or Quicken years ago, it took so much time to reconcile each month that I eventually gave up. And that was with automatically downloading transactions!

The idea that you could do this in a notes app and actually end up with an exactly matching total in app with the statement, where you don’t have to go back and review each transaction to figure out what you missed, is entirely implausible to me. First of all because the sheer number of scheduled recurring charges which may not be a fixed amount, second because the sheer number of quick charges that are run in a day where I am not stopping to open an app and record the total, third because my wife has a card on the same statement and even still sometimes borrows mine, forth of all because things like Amazon charges aren’t always totaled correctly when you first checkout (“estimated taxes”) and even then the total price on the invoice can be split across multiple charges, fifth of all because of various refunds which might occur due to a return made by someone else in the family for a purchase from a previous month, and similarly for orders placed on one day which aren’t shipped and charged until a future statement.

It’s an absolutely huge deal to precisely track your spending so well that the total balance in your personal tracker exactly matches your statement such that you don’t have to look at every charge on the statement and mentally account for it. It’s literally a multi-billion dollar problem and market opportunity.

It's honestly trivial for me. I use a budgeting app (YNAB) that downloads transactions daily, and spend maybe 15 minutes a week total on it. I don't even record most transactions on the fly, but I know where we've used our cards and 95% of transactions I can quickly verify as correct.

That said, the frequent download is a crucial part. If I had to do this on a monthly basis it would be much harder because I'd have to put in an hour of work all at once.

Applications are open for YC Winter 2020

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact