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Ordering from Crucial UK directly is a painful experience
Categories: Life

I’ve blogged here in the past about woeful customer experiences – partly for the cathartic release, and partly because complaints seem to be taken rather more seriously when they are discussed in public. Perhaps that’s the problem with complaints in general – they are hidden from view, and large companies can afford to treat the occasional customer with indifference or contempt.

Sales from the UK arm of the chip manufacturer Crucial are handled by a third party called Digital River. Several big companies outsource their e-commerce in this way – I know Lenovo use Digital River too.

I made a purchase on a Thursday evening, using the Digital River website, and an order email came in, a sluggish fifteen minutes later. The following morning, I received a new email to say that payment had been declined – a rare example of an e-commerce system not able to make a fraud decision on the spot.

Here’s the automated blurb I received:

Dear <customer>,

Thank you for shopping with us. Unfortunately, your order has been declined.

Order Number: xxx

Order Date: xxx

Please reply to this email to contact our Customer Service department ( and confirm the billing information on record or provide an alternate method of payment.


Digital River Customer Service

Well, that sounds like an invitation to email my payment card details! Anyway, I emailed some half an hour later, giving some details, and explaining that the payment appears to be pending at my bank.

Twelve hours later, I receive this:


Some, or all, of the information you entered was unable to be verified. Please try again using your current billing and shipping information, phone number, and email address.

For order number xxx – Banks do not differentiate between pre-authorizations and actual charges. The record reflected on your account is a pre-authorization of funds and not an actual charge since the order was not completed. This pre-authorization will fall off your account automatically within a few business days and you will not be charged for the order attempt.

Thank you for contacting Digital River. If you have any further questions or concerns, please “reply” to this e-mail.

Order Confirmation
Digital River, Inc.

Righto. So I get a copy-and-paste advice that tells me nothing useful, it’s not signed by anyone who wants to put their name to it, and they “thank” me for contacting them. How very corporate.

Moreover, I’m exceedingly nervous of spending this sum again until my bank forgets the transaction – it is still pending, and I assume that since it is Saturday today, my hands are tied until at least Monday.

I’ve checked my order, and the only things “wrong” are that I put an obviously fake telephone number (works 99% of the time) and a per-supplier email address (a long-standing anti-spam measure). I suppose the customer support staff would have me try again, waste another three days on it, and still not wind up with an accepted order. What a ginormous faff!

They’ve got a good sale on, but honestly, I’d rather go to Ebuyer or similar, where I can get instant fraud checks and customer service from people who don’t hide behind the titles of faceless corporate departments.


It has taken five business days (seven calendar days) for the pending transaction to disappear from my online bank statement. That is a delay of seven days just to be able to reorder, and a consequence of not having an immediate fraud check in the payment flow. I will try to contact Crucial to see if they are aware of this.

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