(dozens of comments and growing) I’ve been thinking about starting a business recently.
I’ve also been asked for a business card, so I figured it was time to actually take the plunge and buy some of the things.

I did a little bit of shopping around. The company that I use to print my photographs actually makes business cards. You mail them an image, and they put it on a card. Quite simple, once you have the image designed. But, from looking at the price, I thought that I might be able to do better if I looked around more. I had heard about Vistaprint from various places. They supposedly had free business cards except for the price of shipping. So, I wandered over to their website (use your imagination to guess what it is) and, sure enough, they offer 250 business cards for the low, low firesale price of $5.25 to cover the shipping and handling. You don’t get to design your own image for that price. You pick from a selection of predesigned cards. Also, they mention that there will be a logo on the back of the card for Vistaprint. If you want to get rid of the logo, you have to pay more. If you don’t want the default card stock, you have to pay more. And so on.

But, all I really needed was the basic card, so I went ahead and designed myself the “free” version of the card. At each step of the ordering process, you are asked if you want to add this feature or that (like the things I mentioned above that add onto the cost). At each step, I carefully made sure to choose the option that kept things “Free”. Shipping times? want it this week? That costs more. Free gets it to you in about 3 weeks.

But, I wasn’t in any big hurry, so I went with the cheapest options all the way. Once you get to the end and have entered your shipping and payment information, you are offered the chance to continue clicking on things to “take surveys and win cash”, “get $10 off your next order”, etc etc.. Things of that nature. Needless to say, I didn’t bother clicking on any of the stuff.

So, the order was in. I got an email saying that I’d get another email when it shipped. I carefully watched my credit card transactions via the credit card’s website. Sure enough, $5.25 showed up from Vistaprint, just like it should have. All was well with the world.

The Vistaprint transaction posted on the 7th of the month, and the transaction was complete on the 9th.

Act 2, Scene 2 (AKA: where things seem to go downhill)

On the 9th, a new charge showed up on the credit card. It completed on the 11th. It looked like the following:

04/11/06 	247CS.NET(Services and Merchandise) 	-$33.36 

I didn’t have a clue what this was. I thought long and hard about what I might have ordered, and absolutely nothing came to mind. With a name of 247cs.net, it sounded an awful lot like a website to me. So, I typed that into the location bar of everyone’s favorite non Microsoft browser, and was presented with a page that basically said: “You’re here because you noticed a charge on your credit card for 247cs.net. This is for a music download service. If you think this charge is in error, click here. If you think this is fraud, click here.” etc etc. [The website appears to be down now. Go figure] Well, I didn’t have any desire to give them any information about me. So, I made a mental note of the website, and prepared to call my credit card company.

Upon calling my credit card company, I told them that I had an unknown charge. They found it, said that it was an internet charge, and that I could file a claim against it. It was some company out of New York, and the category was listed as Computer Software. They also called the 1-800 number for the 247cs.net company and connected me through to them. I spoke to a girl named Anyae, and she started looking up my information. I gave her my name. She couldn’t find it. I spelled everything out. I gave my address. She still couldn’t find any indication of the charge. She asked for my credit card number. I was leery of doing this, but the credit card company themselves had connected me through and were listening in on the conversation, so I gave the credit card number, and, finally, she was able to find the charge. Apparently (and this is the interesting part) in their records my middle initial had gotten included in the last name, so the last name that I was giving here wasn’t coming up on her computer. But, she found the charge, and said that she’d file a charge-back against it. I asked her how this could have happened, and she didn’t have any good answers. The call ended, and I started obsessing over my credit card company’s website to see if the charge would actually be taken care of. And, I started thinking about how annoying it would have to be get a new credit card number. But, if I had been a victim of identity fraud or something, I needed to get it taken care of.

Sure enough, a couple of days later, a negative charge came through for $33.36. A day or two later, I got a fraud complaint form from my credit card company asking me to fill out the forms and mail them back. But, they didn’t give me an envelope to mail anything in, nor did they even bother giving me the address of where I should mail to. So, that didn’t really go anywhere.

So, if it was actually identity fraud, it was, so far, a pretty mild case. I kept (and still am) watching the credit card transactions very closely to see any unexpected charges. But, nothing new showed up. About this time, I noticed that the timing of the Vistaprint charge and the 247cs.net charge were… interesting.. So, I started doing some web searching. Apparently Vistaprint has had a history of some bad practices in this area. I couldn’t find anything about Vistaprint and 247cs.net, but they have had some cases in the past where people have gotten signed up for subscriptions that they didn’t want, and have had a pretty rough time getting everything taken care of. Guess you live and learn, huh? So, I’m going to keep watching things closely and see what happens.

Oh, you’re wondering about the business cards? I actually got them quicker than they had predicted by a few days. The extremely poor quality picture I’ve included lets you see what they look like. More than anything else, the picture is useful so that you can get a feel for how big the logo is that they put on the back of each and every card. It says “Business Cards are FREE at www.vistaprint.com!”. I think I can live with that for now. My needs for the business cards are pretty minimal at this point, so I don’t really want to spend a lot of money on them. For me, the cards are acceptable. I would, however, caution everyone to be very careful about credit card usage with Vistaprint. I still can’t say that Vistaprint is actually responsible for the charge that I got from 247cs.net, but they are who I’m currently currently blaming.

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