Apple blocked and (finally) unblocked my credit card

Just sharing here for anyone Googling and looking for a sanity check…

Sometime right around the new year, one or more of my Apple devices complained about me needing to fix my credit card. This is the same CC I have been using for quite a few years, including all those years as my primary payment method with Apple for me and my family. It kept saying things like “There is a problem with your payment method”.

I tried many times to “fix” it, although the correct information matched what was shown there already. So finally I tried deleting it as a pay method, which worked. But of course, adding it back was declined. It gave no reason and suggested contacting Apple, which I did.

Well, that was over 3 weeks ago. We spoke many times. They made me contact my CC company yet again, even though the latter had already told me all was good (and no other vendors were having trouble with my CC). They tried to get me to contact the Visa network directly which of course is impossible to do. I’m not their customer. They are the gateway between my CC bank and Apple. I told Apple that there was no evidence from the bank that any attempt to charge my card was even being made and that they needed to provide a transaction ID or and error message in order for them to research further.

Apple made me send screen recordings and upload diagnostic logs more than once because their upload system failed to register the uploads the first time. Then I still waited a couple more weeks.

Finally, I got a random call today. Thankfully, at least the same guy has been tracking my issue most of the way. He told me engineering made a change and to try again. It worked now. Of course, I wanted to know what they did, but he said they didn’t provide any details.

As I knew from day one, the engineers had to look at the logs and figure out what the problem was, and then to fix it. And the 3+ intervening weeks is BS pleasantries in order to get to that point. How do I know this? Besides my experience as a consumer, I’m often that engineer :-) But to my credit, I’m NOT the lame customer support person running interference making customers jump through inordinate loops to get a solution to a problem. If there’s a reasonable suspicion that there’s a platform-based problem, my posture is that I want to know about it and fix it, not to stall with an poorly constructed troubleshooting algorithm.

So what happened here? I will never know. However, searching my mailbox for Apple history, I came up with one hypothesis. Per another thread here, I returned an USB Adapter to Apple recently for a replacement. They sent the new one before receiving the old one, which I appreciate, even though I did sent it back promptly. But I’m sure that if they didn’t get it back – or if their receiving department had a glitch in their workflow – they might freeze my CC until they got it. Maybe they failed to credit my account even though the product WAS returned and this was silently (bad!) locking my card with Apple?

I don’t know. But it stinks how much of my time I had to spend to resolve this. But if it happens to you, stay the course and insist on getting an engineer to analyze it.

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No help here, but I’ve seen similar things happen to me over the years. I’ve had my Amazon account summarily deleted (not just closed, but vanish as if it never existed), to suddenly come back (and they don’t want to talk to you if you don’t have an account). I’ve had Dell refuse to do business with me because they don’t like my e-mail address (claiming that my full name has to appear in it to be considered valid). And dozens of other such problems.

And in all cases, nobody knows why, or the people who know why refuse to talk about it. But they’ll demand all kinds of legal paperwork beyond what my bank required for me to get a mortgage (enough so anyone intercepting that communication could steal my identify permanently), and I’ll tell them to take a hike at that point. There are several companies I can never do business with again (especially eBay and PayPal) because of nonsense like that.

I suspect that what’s going on is that they developed some kind of whiz-bang AI-based fraud-detection software and “the algorithm” red-flagged my account. But since nobody there developed the software, nobody understands what it’s doing, and nobody understands how to fix its bugs, they make up BS excuses and try to blame you for their problems.

I’m actually shocked that Apple actually resolved the situation. I’ve almost never received satisfaction from any companies when this happens. Sometimes the problem will magically resolve itself (without them even bothering to inform me) and sometimes there will simply be companies from which I’ll forever be blacklisted. But I don’t have the time or the energy to fight the system the way you did. I’d probably have ended up banned from Apple.

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So much great feedback. Thank you.

Yea I’m a glutton for getting to the bottom of things and should probably not be like that so much in general. Professionally it makes for a great engineer. Personally it makes for a masochist :sweat_smile:

You’re probably right that my persistence is why it got resolved or at least without a much longer wait. But this is my only CC and I spend a lot with Apple Pay and having this card suddenly blacklisted was not something I wanted to deal with.

However, I was able to add PayPal to Apple which hits the same CC. And I did put my debit card in there for a short time to keep subscriptions from bouncing.

This thread reminded me of a news article that ran last year about the account cancellation black hole many people face:

"It usually starts with an algorithm programmed to detect certain patterns or behavior. A customer’s transactions may have tripped a wire — perhaps by repeatedly making cash deposits just below $10,000, a tactic known as structuring, since anything above that amount is usually flagged. Or maybe the customer had a transaction with another party that was deemed suspicious (and in some cases, the banks don’t want the customer to be a victim).

After the warning bells ring, financial institutions have a special (human) team that reviews the situation to see if there is a reasonable explanation.

These employees may decide to close the account and cut their losses — and they may file a SAR to the federal government. They may also do just one or the other — or neither, after speaking to the customer.

The SARs are largely kept under wraps. Customer service representatives might not know if such a report was filed (or anything about its contents), which may be why it can be hard for them to explain account closures to customers."

and

"The security software that banks use to sniff out criminal activity is easily frightened. It sets off millions of alarms across the industry each year, and most of them are false.

Nevertheless, bank staff members following up on the warnings appear to be cutting an increasing number of innocent customers off from their accounts, […] They close down checking and credit-card accounts in part to keep regulators, who are worried about money laundering and other criminal activity, out of their hair.

The closures often happen without warning, and chaos ensues when people lose access to their money for weeks and can’t pay their bills."

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