Elf, you're usually right, but you missed something this time.
Originally Posted by Elfwreck
If the cashier says "I'm sorry; that won't go through," and re-bills you, the cashier can't bill you again and sneak an extra item into your cart. If she does, the second is a gift--you only authorized one payment.
Except the cashier didn't do that. According to what the OP said, she (the OP, that is) conducted the transaction twice -- once believing it didn't work (though not checking it), and once believing it did.
Hold on, something just struck me....
Kobo's email (as quoted by the OP) said that the "purchases happened less than 1 second apart."
The first purchase attempt didn't go through
. The "try again later" response was totally accurate, and it wouldn't
have appeared in the OP's account because it had, in fact, failed. The first transaction is entirely off the table -- the script correctly reported that, for whatever reason (usually the CC clearinghouse being overloaded) it didn't go through. It was the second
purchase that generated the two cards. I would guess, having dealt with this stuff on the other end, that the OP wanted to make sure that the transaction "really worked" this time, and instead of clicking the "buy now" button (or whatever Kobo uses; I really haven't
seen their website) once, and waiting, she clicked it twice
, thereby triggering the script twice -- and buying two cards. This is why you wait for the site to do its stuff (watching your status bar is important) and why some sites warn you not to click that button more than once. That's the only way I can think of that there would be two transactions that close together, because it takes longer than that to load an error page and go back -- if the first
attempt had gone through, there would have been more of a gap. The first one really did fail.
So, in other words, this is a PEBKAC error. Customer clicked "buy" twice. Customer bought twice. This doesn't happen nearly as often as it used to -- sales scripts are more robust nowadays -- but it does still happen, as this whole thread demonstrates. The standard response from any retailer is to refund one of the erroneous purchases. This is what Kobo did.
In this case, Kobo owes her the free card--she authorized purchase of *one* card.
There is no way for Kobo to know that, though. She may not have wanted
to authorize the purchase of two cards, but that's what she actually did. And all Kobo can react to is what she did, not what she was thinking. When she told them she only wanted to buy one card, they un-sold her the other. Sounds reasonable to me. If I accidentally buy two of anything from an online retailer, they're only obliged to give me a refund for the one I didn't want, not
to give it to me for free. (if the latter was the case, I'd be frantically double-clicking on "buy" buttons for wide-screen TVs!)
If Kobo wanted to cancel the extra, they should've sent out an email saying "we accidentally sent you a second gift card, which won't work" rather than leaving it up to the person they charged to explain Kobo's glitch.
Well, most places leave it up to the person who bought two of something and only wanted one to explain to the recipient that they were only supposed to get one, not two, of whatever-it-was. Normally, people don't get upset if they don't get twice the gift they expected, and I'm sure Kobo doesn't expect to have to dissemble to prevent such unexpected anger.
But in any event, it wasn't Kobo's glitch -- the first transaction didn't
work. It correctly reported that it had failed. It was the user's error during the second
transaction which caused it to be processed twice (and Kobo is far from the only site ever to see this). The customer accidentally processed an order twice, then said she only wanted one, so Kobo cancelled the other. Business as usual all over the Web. Kobo has no more obligation to give her a free $50 than Best Buy has to give me a free TV is I click "buy" twice there.
I can't believe I'm defending Kobo here. I'm not surprised CWatkinsNash was afraid he had brain damage. But, well, you know what they say about stopped clocks.