Problems with Algorithms
Subtitle: I'm completely fed up with General Electric credit card's fraud detection algorithm.
- I started buying things in Cambridge, MA, like I do every summer. I charged my cell phone bill to my credit card, like I do every month. I bought a plane ticket (in my name, from my home city). They called. I told them that I made all the charges. I told them that I was spending the summer in Cambridge, MA.
- I bought a few more things in Cambridge, MA -- in the same stores that I tend to buy things in when I'm at home. I charged my cell phone bill to my credit card, like I do every month. They called again. I explained again.
- I bought gas at a gas station about half a mile from my house. I joined a gym about two miles from my house. I tried to buy a Macintosh online. I haven't done that since June of 2006 (same credit card), but I do buy more than my fair share of stuff from Apple. They called me.
- Here's where the story gets annoying. I told the credit card company that yes, I made the charges, and they denied them anyway. I called them back, and they apologized and said that they had removed the flag and the charge would go through. I asked what I could do to stop triggering the fraud alerts. They told me that I could put my number on file with them and they could call me to verify charges. I pointed out that they had called and still denied the charge after I confirmed it. They assured me that everything was OK and that the charge would be approved.
- Then I called Apple and told them that they could try to put the charge through again. Denied again! At this point I got out the second cell phone and had one phone on each ear: credit card on the left and Apple on the right. After a few back-and-forths, the charge finally went through.
- My iMac should be arriving some time next week. Wish me luck with that.
- My dad points out that odds are this defective algorithm is from Niskayuna, NY -- my home town and the headquarters of GE Research.