PaymentOne Destroys World of Warcraft Accounts with Inexplicable Chargebacks

Posted by | July 31, 2009

World of WarcraftThe World of Warcraft is reeling under an assault, but not from any mortal enemy. Instead, the masses of elves and orcs alike suffer under the cruel whip of bizarre credit charges canceling their accounts.

The monster at the heart of this attack is PaymentOne, a company that allows players to pay their game subscriptions through their phone bills. It seems that PaymentOne has issued thousands of credit card chargebacks against WoW players, which caused their accounts with Blizzard to go deeply negative. In response, Blizzard shut down the accounts.

A chargeback is a type of credit card protection people use to defend themselves against nasty and unexpected charges on their credit card. It bodily sucks the money directly from the merchant’s account back to the user’s own, leaving the merchant to sort things out with the credit card company. How and why PaymentOne is throwing them around is a bit of a mystery.

Also a mystery is why this is happening to players who have never signed up with PaymentOne, and those who have canceled their PaymentOne accounts. Players who pay their bills through more mundane channels are seeing their Warcraft accounts violated by the wandering tentacles of PaymentOne. Did I mentioned PaymentOne has been charged and convicted of unauthorized charges before? In fact, the company name itself is a bit of a sham, since they used to be known as eBillit before the big FTC crackdown hit. Here’s some information on PaymentOne / eBillit’s conviction.

The telephone companies and ISPs used by the various players hit with these strange charges agree that their bills have been paid in full — no money is owned on that side. Blizzard is seeing chargebacks from PaymentOne on their side. So that leaves the monkey in the middle; PaymentOne is somehow and for some reason creating chargebacks on bills that have been paid.

Contacting PaymentOne about this matter has proved to be an exercise in futility. The only option that PaymentOne offers is forking out the cash to pay this sudden charge that magically materialized somewhere within their offices, while attempts to resolve this as a case of fraud have according to at least one complaint, been met with the response that PaymentOne has no fraud department.

For their part, Blizzard acknowledges the issue in this forum thread, but has yet to admit to anything actually being wrong. Instead, they offer the helpful tip that customers should pay their bills. Bills that, by the admission of the ISPs who collect them, have already been paid.

Talks, as they say, are ongoing. In the meantime, if you bill through your ISP or telephone company, it might be a good idea to cancel that service and pay Blizzard directly, or stock up on game cards for the winter. A call to your bank to ban any future charges from PaymentOne or its sister companies might also save you some grief in the future.

If you’ve been hit by this bug, you might find some small measure of satisfaction in reporting PaymentOne to the FTC and the Better Business Bureau. They don’t investigate without complaints.

Oh, and always, always guard your credit card and account info. Never give out your numbers, never give out your password. Keep it secret, keep your money — and your characters — safe.


4 Comments so far
  1. wow
    July 31, 2009 1:02 pm

    Oh man that explains why my guild mate was pissed off! Who wouldn’t be? To think you are paying your bills on time to avoid inconvenience then one day you’ll receive a message that your account got suspend. Blizzard and Payment One has a lot of explanation to do.

  2. Matthew
    July 31, 2009 8:47 pm

    Ok for anyone in the dark and wondering whats going on…. quoted..

    http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/th…sid=1&pageNo=1

    Good morning, everyone-

    Due to the recent concerns many players have expressed regarding chargeback issues with PaymentOne, we’d like to provide you all with some additional information.

    If access to your account has been disabled due to a filed chargeback for a telephone payment, this means that your telephone company has withdrawn funds already paid to Blizzard Entertainment via PaymentOne. This chargeback may have happened for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to: non-payment on the associated phone bill, a delinquent phone bill account, a requested refund via the telephone company, or a disputed payment.

    If your chargeback (or the amount owed) happened to be less than the original charge, this means your telephone company only collected a partial payment. This partial payment occurred because, as part of the PaymentOne process, your telephone company will attempt to pay its own fees first and then the fees to outside companies, such as Blizzard Entertainment. So, if your available funds could cover your phone bill, but only part of your subscription fee, your chargeback will have only been for the amount which was not covered. For example, if your subscription fee was $14.99 USD and only $5.00 USD was withdrawn from Blizzard Entertainment by your telephone company to cover an outstanding balance, the amount owed to Blizzard Entertainment at this time would only be $5.00 USD.

    If you have any questions regarding why these charges were withdrawn, please contact the telephone company which was used at the time the now-withdrawn payment(s) were applied to your account. If you have any concerns related to the retrieval process or what options may be available to you at this time, then please feel free to contact Billing & Account Services at your earliest convenience.

    Billing and Account Services * Email: billing@blizzard.com * Web form: http://us.blizzard.com/support/webform-us.xml?gameId=11 Live Representatives Available Mon-Fri, 8am to 8pm PDT For phone assistance please call: 1 (800) 592-5499 || 1 (800) 59-BLIZZARD
    o Players in Australia should call 1-800-041-378
    o Players in Singapore should call 800-2549-9273
    o Players in Chile should call 1230-020-5554
    o Players in Mexico should call 001-888-578-7628
    o Players in Argentina should call 0800-333-0778
    o All other international players should call: (949) 955-0283

    [ Post edited by Syndri ]

    here is my email in this…

    Access to the World of Warcraft account *account name removed*, has been temporarily disabled due to a chargeback filed against the account’s past payment(s) which were billed to a telephone number via PaymentOne.

    As a result of this dispute, funds paid on the account were withdrawn from Blizzard Entertainment in direct violation of the account’s terms. This is known as a “chargeback.”

    The total withdrawn by this chargeback(s) was: 59.96

    If your charge is returned to Blizzard Entertainment for any reason, Blizzard Entertainment reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to suspend or terminate your access and your Account, as well as terminating this Agreement and all of Blizzard Entertainment’s obligations hereunder.

    The account is now considered by Blizzard to have a negative balance, and will be unavailable for play until any and ALL outstanding balances have been repaid to Blizzard. These funds can only be repaid via a United States money order for the full and EXACT amount of the disputed funds: 59.96

    This money order must be made out to “Blizzard Entertainment” and MUST clearly list the World of Warcraft account name in question: *again account name removed*
    It should be mailed to this address:

    ATTN: Billing & Account Services
    Blizzard Entertainment
    P. O. Box 18979
    Irvine, CA 92623

    We strongly suggest you use some form of tracking to make sure your mail gets to Blizzard Entertainment; we are not able to assist with lost inquiries. If we do not receive your package, we will not be able process your request. Once the money order is received and processed, Blizzard will unlock the account for play again, provided these instructions have been followed. Upon payment, Blizzard will also credit the account with play time equivalent to any paid subscription time that the account was locked out for (up to a maximum of 180 days).

    This process to unlock the account is offered with this email is considered as a final warning: ***ANY subsequent payment disputes will result in a permanent closure of the account for repeated breach of the Terms of Use.***

    Unless the above process is followed to get the money order to Blizzard, the World of Warcraft account in question will remain unplayable until said funds are received. Please do not reply to this email, as you will receive no further response. Be aware that Blizzard Billing representatives will NOT be able to provide any alternatives or expedite this process in any way.

    Regards,
    Billing & Account Services
    http://www.blizzard.com

    now ive contacted my old phone company they said im paid in full. that means via them they paid payment one who paid blizzard for my play time.

    if you dont know.. payment one is a payment method used by blizzard that allows customers a way via land line in the US only to pay for world of warcraft game time.

    i did this for 4 months a year ago when i was outta a job and could pay via my bank cards.

    payment one according to blizzard contacted them said i use fraudulent means to aquire game time in this time peroid.. a year ago now. As of this past tuesday they, blizzard, locked my account and about a thousand or more others due to payment ones claim of fraud and wanting payment.

    now i contacted my old phone company like i said and blizzard billing all was good and fine until i tried calling payment one.. got the run around from a thick accent lady who couldnt provide anything to me and basically clam’d up once i listed my name old number and the access to the documents the old phone company issued to me via a fax to show i paid. now they wont even answer my calls.

    dont get me wrong im paying blizzard, im getting my account back and im never using a 3rd party payment option again. Granted it looks like neither blizzard nor i bothered to look into payment one’s past .. quoted from the blizzard site.. on the 1st page.

    Q u o t e:
    in 2002 the US Federal Trade Commission forced the internet pay company e-Billit to refund $1.6 million to customers for fraudulent charges.

    From J. Howard Beales III, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection: “This settlement serves notice to billing aggregators that if they support fraudulent activities, they will be held responsible for their actions. It also points to the importance of consumers filing fraud complaints with the FTC. By spotting trends among the consumer complaints in our database, we were able to identify the fraudulent activity and put a stop to it in less than three weeks.

    After all the bad publicity e-Billit changed its name to PaymentOne.

    all in all its been a lesson for me. i know blizzard did what they had to do, i dont agree with it but i understand. I just feel like ive been sexually assaulted in all this in some way.

    basically its like this..

    me > phone company > payment one > blizzard

    i set up via my us land line a billing method through payment one to blizzard to pay wow. Payment one pays blizzard the money i get to play … each month i pay my phone company, they paid their sections then they pay any 3rd party say outside long distance or in this case payment one.

    for me i was in between jobs i used our phone to play the 4 months i was on unemployment to play..

    i do valve tech so when i do work i make a good chunk of change its just major jobs don’t pop up for weeks at a time.

  3. Helvetica
    August 6, 2009 12:19 pm

    Wow, what a huge boatload of related information. Thanks for that, Matthew. Hopefully this will all get itself untangled with minimal fuss.

  4. Anonymous
    August 10, 2009 2:55 pm

    First of all, PaymentOne can’t be issuing credit card chargebacks if they are billing to a landline phone bill (it would be a carrier adjustment equivalent to a chargeback in the credit card world). Second, Blizzard released this on the 8/5/09 to clarify:

    “As part of our accounting review process, we identified prior payment reversals resulting from chargebacks issued by the local telephone companies among a small percentage of World of Warcraft accounts whose monthly subscription is paid via the accountholder’s local telephone company bill. Due to the missing payments, we temporarily suspended these accounts.

    The communication that was provided to the players affected by these temporary suspensions was unclear — we want to take this opportunity to clarify that these problems are not the fault of PaymentOne, which acts as an intermediary between the local telephone companies and Blizzard Entertainment. Note that the chargebacks were issued by the telephone companies and not PaymentOne. We regret any confusion over this issue and will be reinstating all of the affected accounts while we conduct a further investigation.

    Please note that those affected players who recently sent in payments have had their World of Warcraft accounts restored, and no further action is required. With regard to the accountholders whose accounts still show missing payments, we will be contacting them directly to further address any outstanding issues. “

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