May 15, 2004

Billing error overcharges some Mandrakesoft customers by $1000s

Author: Joe Bolin

Mandrakesoft may be enjoying financial freedom by exiting bankruptcy
protection, but at least a few of its loyal users have not been so fortunate this weekend. An
apparent glitch in order processing has resulted in some customers being
overcharged by thousands of dollars. Early reports indicate that only North
American customers that made purchases through Visa in early May are affected. Updated

An early analysis points to buggy processing software that converts the value
of processed orders by omitting the decimal. $120.00 is thus converted to
$12,000. The problem has left some users without funds for the weekend since
it didn't manifest itself until Friday afternoon.

Ironically, users with good banking history and overdraft protection on their
Visa check card and banking account appear to be the most at risk. One
Regions Bank official stated, "Customers with a good track record, such as no
history of overdrafts, are consider privileged customers so the transaction
isn't flagged.... Because of our agreement with Visa, we accept the charges."

Frustrated customers are left with no answers. Calling Mandrakesoft's North
American customer service number yields only a recording stating that
Mandrakesoft is aware of the problem and is investigating the matter.

In an email, Mandrakesoft's Gael Duval offered an apology and stated, "It's
really not Mandrakesoft's policy to charge a different amount than the order,
and it's very difficult to understand how it did happen."

Affected customers should first contact their financial institution to
initiate a dispute over the charges. Providing a copy of the original invoice
to the financial institution will expedite the dispute process. Customers
should then contact Mandrakesoft with their bill date and receipt number.

It is unclear how widespread the problem is, but those already affected aren't
being shy about their distress. "How's this for a discount... $13,200 FOR ONE
COPY," was the headline on one frustrated customer's post. Referring to the
inability to contact someone at Mandrakesoft, the poster went on to comment,
"In the mean time I bounce checks, miss work, and rack up phone bills." Other
users have gone on to state âThis lack of response for such a hugh(sic)
mistake is unforgivable. I certainly will never again trust Mandrake with my
credit card unless this is corrected immediately...â

Mandrake officials were not immediately available for comment, but posted this advisory at

Important statement about Mandrakestore 2004-05-15

We have been informed that some of our customers who paid through visa card in north America at the beginning of the month are encountering problems with their visa bill. Every complaint will be answered. Please send email with all the relevant information to : - In the meanwhile we have decided to execute all our payment through our paypal plateform. You do not need a paypal account to use this platefom, you simply need a credit card (Mastercard, Visa, Discover, American express).

Update: NewsForge has received additional information from Gaël Duval, co-founder of Mandrake. He informed us via email that "We are currently doing our best to help customers who have been charged too much, to reimburse
them as soon as possible and indemnize them. We have switched all our debit card payments to Paypal (which takes debit cards as well), and
will certainly change of bank because their cooperation was very bad and it's damaging for Mandrakesoft's image."

Click Here!