Saturday, June 16, 2007

Being a victim of Credit Card Scam

When I was going through my detailed bank account statement, I noticed $10 Debit with the description 'wli*shopperdiscount'. I didn't have any clue on how I spent that money on that day, but thought may be it is just my memory issue. Later I saw this repeating every month and I decided to investigate it immediately. But as usual kept postponing till it was 5 months. A simple Google search with 'wli*shopperdiscount' pointed me to a blog post which informed that it is from a company named Web Loyalty and it is possible to get refund by contacting them.

They refunded me $50 they had taken from my account and also explained me how the whole thing happened. Those who are interested in reading this long story, go ahead...

There were hundreds of comments to that blog post, from various people explaining how they got ripped off without their knowledge. Many however mentioned that, they got their money refunded. One comment was from a VP of Web Loyalty asking everyone to contact him for an explanation.

So I wrote the following email to him:

" In my bank statement, I noticed $10 charged every month with a description WLI*SHOPPERDISCOUNT 800. One blog site ( pointed out that this is from your organization and I saw your comment saying that you will help us identify the issue and refund the money I lost.

As far as I remember I have not subscribed for this service. Like others noticed, may be some of the web site I transacted must have sold my CC info to you or must have made me click on an offer without disclosing that I will be charged every month for something that I do not want or know.

My credit card ends at XXXX and I request your immediate action to refund all the money taken from my account. I also request you to provide more information on how this happened, so that I can post those details in blogs and let my friends and families know. I am very much interested and eager to know that how you are going to explain this action as hundreds of people are complaining about this and your web site still claims that its a good business model. As evident from the blog posts, your business model has made many of us to take the decision of not shopping online from the web site from where we got trapped (may be since we didn't read all the fine prints!). "

I got an immediate response as below:

" Thank you for contacting us so that we can address your concerns. 

We are sorry if there was any misunderstanding regarding the membership as we strive to make our offers as clear as possible.   As you requested, we've cancelled the membership and issued you refunds for the 5 monthly membership charges that you incurred.     These refunds should appear shortly in your credit card account depending upon how frequently your credit card issuer posts transactions.  

I will be happy to provide you with details on how the membership was initiated so that your concerns are fully addressed.    I am in the process of collecting those details and will send them to you tomorrow in a separate email.  " 

And few days later another email with attachments showing their offer and email templates:

" As you requested, I am providing you background information on how the Shopper Discounts & Rewards membership was initiated.  

On December 25, 2006, when you completed an online transaction with, you enrolled in Shoppers Discount & Rewards by clicking on a $10 cash back award, entering your email address twice and clicking “YES” on an enrollment button. I've attached the actual page through which you joined. Please note that directly above the section for entering email addresses, the text advises that you are authorizing the secure transfer of your name, address and credit or debit card information to Shoppers Discount & Rewards for billing and benefit processing.   Immediately after accepting the membership offer you were presented with a membership acknowledgement page and within 10 minutes a membership confirmation email with details on how to use the membership was sent to your email address.  These are also attached for your review.    

We sent you seven more emails from January 2, 2007 through May 24, 2007 with details of the membership.   The one that was sent to you on January 11, 2007 informed you that your 30-day free trial would end in 14 days and that you would be billed unless you cancelled your membership.   If you would like me to send you copies of these emails, just let me know.  

I hope this helps to clarify how the membership was initiated and why you were charged the membership fees.   Please contact me at if you have suggestions for improving our service or to further discuss this matter.  "

I verified my email archives and found this claim to be true. Now I remembered that I had clicked on some offer that appeared as harmless without actually reading the details.

By this time they had refunded my $50 as 5 different transactions of $10.

So now you know the whole story! And one of the comment to another blog post with this issue from a person claimed to be WebLoyalty employee says it all...

"WebLoyalty depends on idiots like you to NOT notice this stuff. To be blinded by the idea that you are getting something for “free”. To not look at your credit card statement so charges go through every month. Its unbelievable the amount of dummies out there that fall for this stuff. Even if you do catch the charges eventually, and get a refund they still made money off of you by collecting interest on your money when they had possession of it."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Another new Malayalam movie release here in US. Watching Vinodayathra from Fun Asia theater in Dallas this weekend was fun. Though it does not meet the earlier standards of Sathyan Anthikkad movies, it surely was entertaining and to some extend thought provoking. Sathyan throws pieces of all prevalent social issues in Kerala with an incredible humor sense. I liked Dileep in his innocent irresponsible youth who is trying to avoid the bigger responsibilities of life. Like most of us, until there is a compelling reason, we tend to live the easy life trying to turn a blind eye on issues we face daily, while discussing in detail about Iraq war and Bush Administration. Mukesh reminds us of his role in Godfather genre movies. Meera Jasmine is at her best always, but this particular role looked so repetitive.

The theater was almost full when we watched this movie. Obviously all of them must be Mallus as there was no subtitles for the movie. There was this family sitting just behind me and one of the kids (obviously born in America and speaks only English) kept on asking his dad every now and then what the characters were talking. Dad patiently translated all Malayalam dialogues for his kid to understand the movie better. It was funny, and at the same time pity to hear him say things like "She is asking him what is the cost of one pound of rice?".

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Zero Gravity

I was reading a TIME article on how Professor Stephen Hawking experienced the Freedom of Weightlessness by flying in a special aircraft 'G-Force One'. That's when I knew that there are ways to experience zero gravity without going to space.

Earlier I had read news about 'Virgin Galactic'. They are the the world’s first spaceline, which is on track to offer commercial spaceflight for the public. Then there was this article in Malayalam news papers that confirmed that one of the few selected for their first flight is a Mallu (The 'Sancharam' travel TV show host).

I read all the related news then and found the idea too much tempting. A trip to the space to watch earth from top and experience zero gravity will be surely the ultimate of all trips. But the cost of $200,000 (almost 80 Laks Indian Rupees) is too high for me!

Now here is 'G-Force One' from 'Zero G'. Its a normal Boeing aircraft modified to fly a parabolic flight maneuvers that will create temporary weightlessness. And the total cost is only $3,500. Now this is really tempting!