Help! PetCircle Are Making Fraudulent Charges on My Credit Card!

Around 3 months ago I purchased dog food from PetCircle.com.au. The order came to $200. Around 20 minutes after making the order my Amex was charged an additional $32. I called PetCircle and was informed that pricing had changed internally and despite the old pricing being displayed on the website their backend system had automatically charged me the difference! They informed me that this was a one off error and that it couldn’t happen again.

Several things are wrong with this!

  1. I agreed to pay the advertised price, not a higher price secretly and arbitrarily set by the company
  2. I didn’t agree to further charges being placed on my credit card

I stupidly gave the PetCircle the benefit of the doubt and today I made another order with PetCircle. The order came to $219.46. Lo and behold around 29 minutes later my Amex was charged an additional $9.12! I called up and was informed that the pricing had changed internally and that their internal system had “accidentally charged me an additional amount”. The company representative apologised and refunded the amount.

PetCircle have now fraudulently charged my credit card twice!

This company has an annual turnover of over $70 million! How can they engage in such dishonest and illegal behaviour?

I have reached out to the ACCC and will assist them on this matter as they are engaging in bait and switch tactics (in addition to outright fraud).

If you have ordered from this company triple check you CC statements as I’m almost certain I’m not the first (and second) person this has happened to!

PetCircle know that their system is making unauthorised charges on their customers credit cards but still continue to trade… this is fraud!

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Pet Circle
Pet Circle

Comments

  • +12

    You did not authorize the additional charges both times.

    This is fraud and it is criminal. Inform the police (no sarcasm here).

    • +7

      Eh - intent is a requisite element of fraud and it doesn't seem to be present here. There is the possibility (though slim imo) that they do this to all customers and just refund the ones who notice, and is actually doing it intentionally.

      I think OP should report this though - because there's no way of knowing unless someone actually looks at all of PetCircle's transactions as a whole and see how pervasive an issue this actually is.

      • +3

        Intent is a requisite element. I gave the company actual and constructive notice the first time this happened to me however so at least negligent or reckless behaviour

        • It's two incidents 3 months apart.

          Also, don't use specialised terms (which have actual meanings) like "actual and constructive notice" if you don't know what those meanings are, especially in an attempt to bolster your argument. It's counter-productive and makes your complaints less credible because it only demonstrates that you're willing to recklessly (to borrow your phrasing) embellish your complaint.

          To be clear: I believe you and I think you have a valid complaint, just saying it's not a good rhetorical choice.

          • -2

            @HighAndDry: But I did give them actual and constructive notice so this is the correct language to use in this instance

            • -7

              @MrGecko: Sigh, okay let's go with this. Firstly, of what matter or fact did you allegedly give Pet Circle actual and constructive notice?

              And in what way was this constructive notice, as opposed to just actual notice?

              Edited for grammar…

            • +4

              @MrGecko: I don' think you can juggle being both a rainmaking armchair lawyer and a super victim at the same time.

              This line also is a bit of a giveaway of noobishness:

              "I have reached out to the ACCC and will assist them on this matter."

              The ACCC have not dropped everything over a $40 matter. They are not The A-Team.

            • +1

              @MrGecko:

              But I did give them actual and constructive notice

              What was the constructive notice?

      • +4

        I am convinced it is intentional.

        There is a repeat incident after being made aware of the first incident.

        old pricing being displayed on the website their backend system had automatically charged me the difference!

        They were also aware that this is an ongoing issue and their website was programmed to charge the additional fee. It is not a fault within the software.

        There seems not be nothing to indicate this is an accident apart from the incorrect price.

        • -2

          We don't know how their IT backend system works. I'm not in IT, but from what I can tell, even to IT people sometimes it's a mix of voodoo magic, plus twine, plus fairy unicorn dust. On the face of it I don't see that it's impossible that when an order comes through the site - it triggers their payment processor to get all the details of the product from a backend server (they might include more details that's not on the site), but in doing so it also gets the price to be processed from that server.

          And the issue may even have been fixed when OP mentioned it last, but the fix was the overridden by a software update. THAT happens frustratingly more often than it should.

          I'm not defending Pet Circle here - this is bad, is wrong, and obviously should be rectified if not also penalised, but to extrapolate OP's case to presume that they're trying to deliberately defraud people without further facts, is I think a step too far.

          There seems not be nothing to indicate this is an accident apart from the incorrect price.

          Well the incorrect price, and the fact that the amount of the difference is different (so not a standard fraudulent mark-up ($32 diff from $200 order last time, $9 difference from $219 order this time), and which razor was it? Hanlon's? Assume incompetence before malice.

          • +2

            @HighAndDry: I believe it's Gilette's.

            I don't believe it's malice but repeatedly failing to rectify a mistake in which the business directly profits from is wilful negligence at best.

            I'm not asking OP to press criminal charges but there is sufficient grounds to make a report. Let the judicial system decide if there is sufficient evidence of intent.

            • @tshow: Report yes, I'd still say ACCC report more than a police one though. Very unlikely police will be interested considering again, on its surface it looks purely accidental. If it's not - ACCC has powers to refer it to DPP anyway.

              • +1

                @HighAndDry: We need a royal commission into dodgy dog food sales practices!

  • +9

    Calm down, calm down - this sounds more like an IT issue (that they haven't fixed) more than "fraudulent" behaviour as you've described it.

    Each time you've contacted them, they've given you a refund. Had they refused to credit your card back, then it's a different story.

    We've got to stop throwing around words like "scam" or "fraud" so quickly. Mistakes happen here and there.

    inevitably, the question of how many others they've charged (where they haven't noticed) is another thing altogether. I'd hope that once they get notified of the error (by someone like yourself), they'd do an exercise to find out and automatically refund any other impacted customers.

    • -5

      Unfortunately it's illegal behaviour and a contravention of our laws. At a minimum it is bait and switch tactics; advertising one price and charging another. But it is more than this because seperate transactions have gone through on my CC without my authorisation.

      I don't always check my CC statements (so so very stupid, I know). Instead I rely on the Amex instant notification on iPhone. How many other people haven't noticed this "IT issue" and lost their hard earned?

      • +7

        No. You have been charged incorrectly. That's not bait and switch.

        • Yeah - it's technically a full level worse than bait-and-switch to be honest, though again a lot of that depends on intent.

          **EDIT: FK, accidentally hit "associated" box.

          ***Edit2: Oh you can change it when editing the comment. Okay all good.

      • +2

        How many other people haven't noticed this "IT issue" and lost their hard earned?

        Sometimes, IT systems have issues and even the operator themselves don't know about it until someone tells them.

        The reason I say that it's unlikely to be anything intentional on the retailer's end is because they often don't have full records of your card to be able to do a second charge.

        The business would rely on their IT service provider to fix any problems. Sometimes the provider will implement a "fix", but that fix may or may not correct the issue the first go. As part of the fix process, I would expect them to do a check on what the full impact of the problem has been rather than just looking at a single case.

        In your situation, they charged your card the difference because the price of something went up after you made the purchase. It's entirely possible that they've dropped the price on several other items that's resulted in a negative/refund to other customers' cards. Unfortunately, you don't have visibility of the full problem to be able to make a definitive call on what's going on.

      • At a minimum it is bait and switch tactics; advertising one price and charging another.

        Are you even re-reading what you're writing or are you happy just throwing your emotions and accusations around?

        As HighAndDry has mentioned previously, the element of intent needs to be there for your accusation to be true.

  • +2

    If you were refunded the difference immediately that they were made aware of the problem, it seems to be just an IT issue and not fraud and nothing to be this outraged over.

    • +2

      Not so much outraged rather taking the time to notify others of this recurring illegal behaviour. It can be an IT issue and illegal behaviour… the two things are not mutually exclusive!

      • +5

        I actually agree that you're doing a good thing in warning others, and even the right thing in reporting to ACCC.
        But uh,

        Help! PetCircle Are Making Fraudulent Charges on My Credit Card!

        You've already been refunded so you don't really need any help, and

        This company has an annual turnover of over $70 million! How can they engage in such dishonest and illegal behaviour?

        Imo the exclamation marks are a bit overkill plus, unless it's intentional it's not actually dishonest - it is still illegal, but more in an "breaches regulations" kind of way, not a "criminal" kind of way, and

        PetCircle know that their system is making unauthorised charges on their customers credit cards but still continue to trade… this is fraud!

        Oh com'on. If this is happening very widely, they deserve a fine or other penalty, but wanting them to stop trading because of (what seems, on its face at least to be) an IT issue? That's a little extreme.

      • +1

        I’d be a little more concerned about your slanderous behaviour being perceived by the company as “damaging” over an alleged IT system failure - maybe make sure what you are saying is correct before dragging this business though the mud. I highly doubt this is a scam or fraud, and if it is, well that’s just terrible! But a lynch mob for $40 in accidental charges seems a bit rash.

        One of the major super providers stole $40k from my parents, and blamed my parents for it… currently resolving with super complaints tribunal. I’m almost certain the same thing that happened to my parents had happened to many others also. I didn’t make a forum post about it, nor slander their name. Come on man, just work with pet circle to get this sorted.

        Gosh, just remembered another scam! I book my parking online, and you scan your card to enter the parking garage. Twice in the last month I’ve been charged on my card for exiting the park, even though I booked and paid online! It’s obviously an error in their system, not a scam or fraud, I also told them I wasn’t impressed the first time it happened, and both times I got a refund. Someone call the police!!!

  • +1

    Calm down and challenge it with your CC/bank.

    • +1

      OP's already being refunded…. which makes the "OMG"-ness of the post even less warranted.

  • +2

    i find pet circle deceiving as you setup auto delivery and you get different pricing every order. I have paid anywhere from $75 to $95 for the same bag of food.

    I now just set auto order the furthest date into the future and check back when on special and change the auto order date to the next day and then set back to 20+weeks.

    • I have paid anywhere from $75 to $95 for the same bag of food.

      I don't own a pet and I know anything about how PetCircle works - do they get their stock from overseas? It almost sounds like it could be based off another currency in the backend of their system and the front end does a conversion at whatever given time.

      • I'm not sure either, All i know as the product goes on special regularly but if your re-order is not set during the promo you pay full price, Minus 10% for having re-ordering setup.

        It just annoying and pointless having a reorder setup when the price fluctuates so much.

        So now when i see the special i set the re-order with 2 or 3 bags which lasts me months.

      • The cat food I get had Russian writing on it.
        Not sure if it’s made in Russia or produced for Russia but they just send it to Aus

        • Geez.. I would be checking to see if it's radioactive! :p

      • Most pet suppliers get a lot of stock from overseas. Someone at a store once explained that it comes in via container ship from the manufacturer, that's why several stores can be out of stock of the same brand pet food at the same time. It was a real problem several years ago but they seem to have ironed it out.

  • +2

    What would the late Anthony Bourdain do in this situation ? (username checks out)

    • +2

      He would make them friends by talking it over around a local style meal

    • +3

      not cry like a little baby

    • +2

      Bourdaine was a international treasure.

  • PetCircle have now fraudulently charged my credit card twice!

    Not necessarily fraudulent. Again, depends on intent like what HighAndDry said.

    I have reached out to the ACCC and will assist them on this matter as they are engaging in bait and switch tactics

    First thing they'll tell you is that this is not bait and switch.

    Please do not use terms/expressions that you're not sure of.

  • Just made a purchase from pet circle this morning. Checked credit card records - nothing unusual there. Have never had a problem in the past. I always only do single ship not auto ship.

  • +2

    and thats Numberwang!

  • I made a purchase from PetCircle on 4th March with my Visa credit card and I just checked, it hasn’t charged me anything extra.

  • +1

    I used PetCircle but via PayPal so haven't had any major problems. The autoship prices can change upwards even if you agreed to them at a certain price point. Their stuff arrives quick. My only gripe is that they are clearing using overseas call centre when you call them on the phone lines.

    • If you ring during business hours you get the Australian store.

  • -3

    people still use credit cards directly on a retail website?

  • -2

    A "$70M company" would not risk ACCC investigations for $9.12

  • +1

    Idiot on your part for buying from them again

    Idiots are defined by those who know it is stupid to perform certain acts, but they still perform those idiotic acts

  • This sounds like modern-day repercussions of Office Space!

  • +1

    I've made 10 orders with Pet Circle over the last couple of years including one earlier this month. After seeing this post I went back and double checked all the charges and the only discrepancy I found was they charged me 1 cent less than the invoice a year or so ago.

  • I've ordered from them several times using PayPal and haven't had any issues.
    I do think that's annoying and that they should correct whatever IT issue is still present, but I also think this topic is an overreaction considering the terms.

    Having said that, I'd probably stop buying from them if they had overcharged me twice, with or without intention.

    They have millions of dollars to spend making sure that problems like that would not happen… Or at least not twice.

  • I have also ordered from them several times and never had any issues. They ship the items super fast and their prices are usually good so can't really complain. I never do auto redelivery - just another thing I have to remember to cancel if I don't need something.

  • I've bought from them a few times in the past. Most recently I tried to submit an order using the $20 off $50+ spend (Letterbox deals) offer but it wouldn't work. I contacted their Live Chat Rep who told me it could only be redeemed once per household (fair enough). Instead (as many of us do), I trawled the internet and found a $10 off coupon and used that. Credit card charged on the same day of placing the order (Sunday).

    Three days later (Wednesday afternoon) (order still hasn't been dispatched), I get an accusatory call from one of their Customer Service Agents saying I used a "scam" coupon and that I needed to pay an extra $10 or have the order cancelled. To make things worse, due to the time of day, the order had to be dispatched the following day (Thursday). I voiced my dissatisfaction that my order had been delayed and should have gone out on Monday (with the call being made then) and was told that the agent had to make a lot of these calls (to people using invalid coupons). I pointed out that their web store should be able to identify this and block these $10 coupons from being used more than once. After all, they manage to do this for the $20 letterbox deals coupon.

    I agreed to pay the extra $10 and then discovered they had charged my credit card $19.90 (instead of $10). Sent an email and got an apology and that the difference would be refunded.

  • I just ordered from this company two days ago. Today when I checked my account, they had debited the amount for the order than in another transaction debited another amount on top. I have sent the company a message to ask why they have done so. I will definitely be making a report after reading this post.

    • Seems like they didn’t address the issue they knew about for ~2 years. Perhaps they do need a tap on the shoulder. That’s disappointing by them, get the refund for the 2nd charge if not authorised.

      Never had a problem with them personally.

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