The Joys of Being a Foreigner – Paying Online

This is really nothing new, as it has bothered me for a couple of years now, but since I’ve ended up doing a series of Being a Foreigner posts, I can just as well toss in this grievance too.

I have a Vodafone number on my phone, on a prepaid contract as they won’t make subscriptions to non-residents. That’s not a problem for me, but I need to pay some money into my account every once in a while, and that’s a bit of a hassle.

I can pay into my account in many places, like bars and newspaper stands, which is fine if your outside and the weather is fine.

Other, more privileged persons, can also pay online. When I started with Vodafone, they only accepted credit cards, but all my payments were consistently refused, as always with a generic message that gave you no clue as to why.

I wrote them about it on several occasions, but never ever got any kind of reply. There’s no point in trying to call their support number, where you’ll just get another two hour session with the automated telephonic Lolita doll, but no satisfaction.

At some point they added a few extra lines to their payment page, one of them stating then they only accepted credit cards issued by Italian banks to people with legal residence in Italy.

Then they added Paypal as a payment option and there seemed to be hope again, but no. All attempt to pay with Paypal ended with a partial web page. All the menus, top, left and right, were there, but the content part of the page were missing and the entire page displayd very weirdly.

I tried many times, without any kind of feedback, and never really knew if they would charge all those transactions. In the end they didn’t, but the incompetence seemed immense, even for such a big company.

Again and again I wrote their support, with screenshots and all sorts of useful information, but never heard anything back.

I guess it could be called black hole support. If you write them, you won’t get any feedback at all, but if you don’t write, you won’t even have a flicker of hope of getting any feedback, so you have to write anyway, knowing that from a black hole nothing with a non-zero mass will ever escape.

One day I sat down and read all the fine print on the help pages, and way in there it said that they only accepted payment by Paypal accounts registered by people with legal residence in Italy, and on an Italian address.

So, unless you’re a resident of Italy and your credit cards are issued by an Italian bank, you cannot pay Vodafone Italy online.

This attitude is not unique to Vodafone. When I look around, now I know what to look for, I see this all over.

Who wants those pesky foreign clients anyway.


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