This! Google just recently saw this happen with the Nexus 7 this summer. People were charged when they preordered and then the lack of a hard ship date caused Google to have to spend countless hours in customer support. Once somebody has paid you, the can of worms is open.
They could also want to control the amount of unearned revenue on their books.
A backlog of orders pushes back your shipping date by two months. One random day you get an email saying "Your item has shipped and your card has been charged". Is it not plausible that you've found an alternate in the meantime? Or that your financial situation has changed?
> I can log in to any bank and it'll tell me within a few moments of when a charge was made.
No you can't; that's exactly the issue. Most people don't know the difference between an authorization and a charge. What you see on online banking as "pending charges" or "holds" are authorizations. No money has moved hands -- your bank balance has not gone down, the merchant's bank balance has not gone up, there's not even an in-flight ACH somewhere yet to be processed.
Literally all these entries on your online banking represent is a message of intent from the merchant to charge that much to your card in the near future. Even your bank does not yet know if the merchant actually captured the funds and they'll be settled (the money will move) soon or if they only performed the authorization. They could void the authorization or let it expire itself without ever charging the card.
Hence the comment -- even if Google only performs an authorization, it looks to the customer like they paid, and the bank won't tell the customer otherwise. That makes using authorizations to hold preorders untenable from a customer service standpoint even if it were technically possible, which it really isn't due to the short period authorizations are valid outside the hotel, travel and rental industries.
Our banks all work the same. The settled transactions list you're talking about does not update "within a few moments" as the comment I was replying to said, if a charge was even made.
The fastest your bank could possibly show a charge I make to it right now is tomorrow. Most will take longer than that. If it's near a weekend, it could take 3 or more calendar days. The authorization can show up immediately, the charge cannot.
Authorizations happen in real-time over the card networks. Settlements, where the charges get recorded and the funds actually move, happen in daily batches (or even less often).
In the meantime, customers assume they have paid for something, because they see it in the pending charges or holds list, whether funds were captured or not. Again, refer to previous comments on why that makes authorizing cards for the full amount of preorders problematic.