Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bodog payout followup

A month ago I told you about getting a prepaid Visa card from Bodog instead of a check. Now I can tell you the rest of the story.

I had to log onto a web site to activate the card. This proved frustrating for reasons too arcane to detail, but I gave up for a while, and the card just sat on my desk. Finally this week I got around to tackling it again. Bodog did not respond to my email to their help desk, so I called them. They hadn't given me the code that I needed to activate the card, nor the PIN with which I could use it at an ATM. They said they did, I told them they didn't, blah, blah, blah. Anyway, it finally got worked out, and I got the card activated.

First attempt to cash out at an ATM was a fail. This was my fault. I had not read carefully the instructions that came with the card. Strangely, you have to go into the "savings account" menu at the ATM, which is not what I expected. I tried both the "checking account" and "credit card" options, then gave up when those didn't work. Who would think that a prepaid card would be considered a savings account by the system?

So I went home and RTFM, as they say.

Second try, I asked for the full $300 in cash. It wouldn't give it to me. The obvious thing would be to check the balance first, because it might have changed due to currency exchange rate fluctuations. But the printed instructions had warned me that I would not be able to check the balance at an ATM; it said you have to use the web site for that. Which is why I didn't try it. Also, somebody was waiting behind me to use the machine, and I didn't want to be the jerk that holds up another person's errands because I couldn't figure out how to do a transaction. In frustration, I tried another cash request, this time for just $100, to see if it would give me anything. It did, though it deducted $3 for a service fee. It then asked if I wanted to know the remaining balance, which surprised me because of the previous warning. I pressed "yes," and it told me I had $183.48 left.

That means that my original $300 had drifted down to $286.48 between when Bodog's partner financial company issued the card and when I got around to actually using it. That's a 5% loss.

Today I went back for Round 3. This time I checked the balance first, which worked just fine, despite the stupid papers they had sent me: $181.56. I lost another two bucks overnight! (Let me take this opportunity to send a big upraised middle finger to the Obama administration for continuing its insane policies that are continuously devaluing the dollar.) Because of the $3 service charge, I wouldn't be able to take out $180 in cash. Since it would only take requests in increments of $20, I settled for $160.

Before leaving, I did one final balance check. The answer: $8.43 left on the card. That surprised me. $181.56 minus $160 minus a $3 service charge should have left me $18.56. Somehow, an extra $10.13 vanished without a trace. I have no idea what happened to it.

What I do know is that, in all, my original $300 actually translated to $260 in my pocket plus about $8 on the card. OK, the second $3 fee was my fault for not figuring out how to do it all at once. But even if you ignore that, the net result is that I lost a minimum of $29 on the deal, 10% of what my payout should have been.

This reveals three of the problems with using the card instead of a check: (1) You risk losing substantial value with movements in the exchange rate. (2) If you go for cash, you're hit with fees for each transaction. (3) It's really hard to use up the last bit of the money you have on account--at least in cash. Maybe, maybe, next time I buy something online I can use part of all of this, but I think that will be hard to get the last bit out. Most likely some small amount will be left there, like the last few pennies that you can't shake out of the piggy bank. Not exactly life-changing money here, but still annoying.

Hey, Bodog--if you're taking a customer satisfaction poll on this new idea, put me down as "against."


Kahomono said...

Your middle finger to Obama betrays the usual Libertarian's misunderstanding of economics. As in getting it exactly backward.

If the dollar had been devaluing with respect to whatever currency the card's backing account held, you would have gotten MORE dollars each time.

The sole culprit here would be the kleptomaniacal policies under which Visa and MC "gift cards" just skim the holder's funds almost non-stop. Read the 6-point-font turd of text that comes with one of these cards some time. No tax-law writing wonk in DC ever came up with anything so blatant.

Jim S said...

Bodog is going through these hoops to get you money because of UIGEA. They are very vulnerable because they operate an online sports book, so their choice of processors is likely limited. In effect, you were lucky to get back as much as you did.

If this were a poker only site, one could argue that the now-dead Reid bill would have saved you some trouble if passed, but Bodog is just asking for trouble. My hunch is that some time in the next year or so US Bodog accounts will be frozen or worse. If that happens, you'll be glad you got out what you did.

Anonymous said...

As I said before, I just use the wire service. Yes, it costs about 7-8% of the amount you are withdrawing, but it's usually done in days and shows up in the account as cash.

The only downside I can think of is that I'm quite sure my bank doesn't handle a lot of incoming wire transfers and that could throw red flags on my account = ugh.

JP in Philadelphia

Tic_Tac_Buccinski said...

I was basically going to say the same thing as Kahomono. I had to reread your Obama statement several times. Are you against the rising US currency value because it's bad for trade and makes our foreign owned debt more attractive?

Also the massive deregulation of the credit industry that has allowed for the skimming practices mentioned has nothing to do with Obama or his cronies. In fact allowing the credit card companies to get away with these practices has a lot do with Libertarian business models. Hell as the Libertarians would say hey it's not the government’s responsibility to regulate industry, if consumers are too stupid fall into these traps it's there problem.

Michael said...

I'm not a fan of the dollar de-valuation, but you do realize this started at least mid-term with the Bush administration? Where our dollar lost substantial value against other currencies.

I don't mention as a political issue, I think there are plenty of problems with both, but more a pet peeve in recounting history accurately.

Bailey said...

and thats why we play on stars

Anonymous said...

OMG... I just had a flashback to 2nd grade... I came home from school to find my piggy bank smashed to bits by my "baby" sister... My Mum placed it in the middle of the kitchen table with my poker money amongst the ruins.