If you don’t have a credit card, chances are you know how arduous attempting to make an online purchase can be. Bill2Phone caters to people like you, and also those who simply don’t want to use their credit cards online. We sit down with the Bill2Phone team to better understand what their services offer and how they work.
Kiersten: What about shared phone accounts such as students sharing the bill?
Ann: Then the person whose name is on the bill is going to be the person who needs to sign off on the charge, so that your roommate can’t run up a bunch of charges and leave you stiffed with the bill.
Kiersten: Another example is a married couple whose phone is under one spouse’s name, does that mean the other spouse cannot use Bill2Phone unless both names are on the bill?
Ann: It depends on a couple of factors, sometimes if your name is in the listing it will still work, there’s a couple of different things that go with that. Ultimately, the person whose name is on the bill, who is on that phone listing, is the only one authorized to put charges on that phone bill.
Kiersten: How would people authorize their children for example?
Ann: Here’s how it would work at my house, I have two kids and they both like to play online, but what they do when they are online today, even without Bill2Phone, they find something they want, they ask mom, and I’ll go and if it is credit card based, I enter my credit card. It would be the same thing with Bill2Phone, I would enter my information and off they go.
Scott: And the big advantage there is you’re giving your kids that information but it’s not like they’re going to be able to run up a $300 tab. It’s also not like they’re going to be able to buy a Xbox 360 or go out and buy a Playstation3. It’s very limited to physical applications. By controlling that spending limit on a monthly basis you’re not going to have that big sticker shock.
Kiersten: I noticed that you’re not intending this to be used as a line of credit, so are you limiting the dollar amount of purchases both individual purchases or overall accumulated purchases over the period of a month?
Ann: We do that, and it’s basically something that we’ve worked with each of the phone companies and when we’re actually getting ready to put charges on their bill we talk about the types of charges we’re trying to do and they’ve set limits. Typically it’s a monthly cap, it’s like a 30 day rolling cap and most of them are within around $100 a month for this type of charge, one has $50 right now but we think they’ll move that. So $50 to $100, which I think is a lot of leeway for playing online.
Kiersten: I wouldn’t be surprised if they base it on the past payment history of the individual as well.
Ann: There’s some of that, as well, and our system is designed that it can do that. If the merchant wants to place limits then the merchant’s limits can be imposed. If the phone company places its limits obviously those will be imposed and our system does have a way of tracking and building positive and negative histories.
For examples, if we have a lot of negative history, and this is one of the things that’s really great about the system, let’s say that someone goes to a game site and puts in Bill2Phone and for whatever reason decides that they’re not going to pay the bill, and call us and make a claim, and there’s a charge-back. Well guess what when they go on down to the next game site, we’re still going to know that and they’re not going to be able to do the same thing too many times. Once or twice, after that, we figure that they’re chronic complainers and they’re going to have to pick another payment option.
Kiersten: That’s great, that makes a lot of sense, because people will find a way to abuse it.
Ann: That’s right, and what’s great is we have a huge database of not only people who have purchased online but let’s say someone has purchased a traditional purchase and third party charged it, since we’re the largest in our space, we clear millions and millions of transactions a day, and because we’re the largest in our space, we have histories of people who have complained about collect calls, and people who are chronic complainers are already going to be on the watch list, and we’re going to be a little more careful about allowing them to do the Bill2Phone.
Kiersten: What recourse do people have when their item was paid for but not delivered such as a digital download that failed? Do they have that recourse through you as well as the source?
Scott: Yes, so there’s a couple of different scenarios there, ideally what would happen is they would call the merchant directly. So if that didn’t happen and they called us, then we would try to direct them to the merchant.
Ann: If they were insistent that they absolutely needed the refund we would provide the refund and we’ll let the merchant know, then if the merchant wants to contact the consumer they certainly have the ability to do that.
Kiersten: Are you working with any of the credit reporting agencies or affecting people’s credit rating or are you leaving that up to the phone companies?
Ann: We are not at the present time affecting people’s credit ratings but we do block them from making future purchases, so we are protecting our merchants from further charges from that individual.
Kiersten: You have a database and does providing your phone bill and therefore your phone number in any way allow BSG, its affiliates or the sites where items were purchased to use that phone number for direct solicitation or sale?
Ann: The contracts that we have in place with our merchants prohibit that. So that’s not what we intend to do at all.