For months now I have been planning to buy a new laptop while we’re here in the U.S. over Christmas. Both the prices and sales taxes are lower here, plus shipping is free to a U.S address.
But I must have still been a little jet-lagged when I placed the order with Apple, because I used the Visa card attached to my bank account in Sweden rather than the one issued by a U.S. bank. This is a big No-No…as every ex-pat knows…because most U.S. retailers require a U.S. issued credit card for online purchases. It’s why most of us continue to maintain a U.S. credit card long after we’ve made the move overseas.
I spaced this critical fact when I ordered the new iBook, however, primarily because I’d been using the Swedish card for a couple of days at that point and it’s always accepted when you walk into a store. I didn’t even realize I’d used the “wrong” card online until I got an e-mail from Apple the next day, and I immediately switched the order to my U.S. Visa card.
Not long later, I got another e-mail from Apple indicating that there was still a problem with my method of payment. It was at this point that I remembered a compromise I’d made with Dr. Darling about my U.S. issued credit cards. She didn’t think I needed to keep all three of them (a Visa, a MasterCard and an American Express) once I’d qualified for a Swedish card, but I felt they gave me a certain amount of financial independence and security even though I rarely use them, and I just wasn’t ready to give them up.
The compromise was that I would hang on to the cards, but would dial back the credit limits on the Visa to a point that made Dr. Darling comfortable…basically to a figure that would allow me to buy a plane ticket home in an emergency. In other words, about half the amount of the new laptop.
So I log back on to Apple.com to switch to yet another method of payment…and it’s at this point that the site tells me I can use a debit card. This was the first time I’d seen this listed as an option, so I plugged in the card number to my U.S. bank account knowing there was plenty of cash there to cover it.
Several hours later there’s a THIRD “payment problem” message from Apple arrives in my inbox. This time it appears I have exceeded my daily spending limit on the debit card. (I didn’t even realize I had one.) This is really beginning to piss me off. I have plenty of cash to cover this purchase…in both the U.S. and Sweden, but I can’t get the funds to the company online.
So I call Apple again…pretty certain at this point that they are convinced that I’m trying to scam them out of an iBook. I have one credit card left to try, and while know that the credit limit will cover the charge, I haven’t used this card in over a year which means it’s probably going to get flagged by AmEx for an “unusual use pattern.” To my surprise (and relief), the charge went through…and the iBook is FINALLY on its way.
But I had no idea that internet commerce security would make it so hard for me to spend my own money!