Crackberry’s Sales Prevention Department

Here’s a story of what happens when a cranky customer and an inflexible merchant meet: both sides lose.

I’m a Blackberry user, willing (so far) to put up with the slow browser, lack of features, and iPhone envy. In return I get a physical keyboard and a comforting sense of the familiar.

I also have to deal with the fact that most of the really cool apps don’t come in a Blackberry version. So when I read about a travel app called Flightcaster, and learned that they make it for my dowdy old phone, I went right online to find and order it.

My search took me to a place called Crackberry. I pulled out my credit card and put through a $2.99 order at the Crackberry Store.

The next day I received an email which read, in part:

We are anxious to ship your order, however we need some additional information to complete the order process.

To ensure that only the authorized cardholder placed the order, we would like to verify the supplied billing information. Your order has been placed on hold until this verification is completed.

The following information is requested to ensure that the authorized cardholder placed the order. Please email or fax at least two of the following:

– Top portion of the most recent credit card billing statement showing, name, billing address and last four numbers of the credit card
– Photo copy of your driver license
– Photo copy of the front and back of the credit card before the order can be filled (optionally block out all numbers except first and last four)

My initial reaction was that this couldn’t possibly be real. It was clearly a phishing attempt from some nefarious individual intent on stealing my identity. But when I went on the Crackberry website, I found the same message in the “order status” section.

So I fired off an email to Crackberry Support:

…if you truly want a photo copy of my driver’s license and/or my credit card statement just to put through a $2.99 order – please cancel the order. Amazon doesn’t ask for this information. Zappo’s doesn’t ask for this information. Delta Airlines doesn’t ask for this information I spend a couple of thousand dollars on airline tickets. And I’m not sending it to you, either.

Before we go further, I’ll stipulate something that is probably obvious to the dispassionate observer: I didn’t need to go my-way-or-the-highway quite quickly. I could have politely asked for an explanation first. Noted.

But the support staff for an online retailer should be equipped to deal with the occasional customer who is quick to take offense.This one wasn’t.

I received an email from Jim B., a Crackberry “customer service specialist”, this morning:


We have received your email request for the cancellation of your order. Your order has been canceled and a confirmation email has been sent.

Thank you,

Jim B.
Customer Service Specialist
Toll Free (888) 599-8998

On one hand, I’ve got to respect them. Crackberry has rules, and if a customer doesn’t want to follow those rules, they’d apparently prefer not to have the business.

But here’s what could have happened: Jim B. could have explained the situation (rampant fraud? a problem with my card number? something?), started a dialog, and tried to see if there was some way to accommodate a customer.

If we’d worked something out, and I got the app, we’d have a relationship going forward. Crackberry might have received further orders from me in amounts much larger than $2.99.

In addition, I’d have been a great referral source: I’d have shown off Flightcaster to my colleagues who travel, and told them where I bought it. More customers, and more revenue, for Crackberry.

Instead, it stops here. I don’t have the app;  Crackberry doesn’t have my money, future business, or referrals. We both lose.

Are there “customer service specialists” on your staff? How do they handle cranky customers?


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3 thoughts on “Crackberry’s Sales Prevention Department

  1. I’m a regular CrackBerry reader and saw your story here. You don’t have it quite straight – Crackberry’s software partner is a company called Mobihand. They power a lot of online app stores. So the issues you ran into shouldn’t be pointed at crackberry, crackberry, crackberry, but rather at mobihand, as you could have run into this problem from several different websites. As a long time member at crackberry, I can assure you crackberry’s direct customer support and the site itself are awesome. I’ll flag this up to some of the moderators there to make sure they talk to their partner mobihand on this. They’ll want to make sure these issues don’t happen for others.

  2. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your offer to contact the moderators about this, and would love it if you’d let me know what you hear. But I disagree with you as to who is ultimately responsible for this issue.

    I ordered the app on the Crackberry Store site. The original email requesting a copy of my drivers license, etc., came from “”. The notice from “Jim B.” that my order had been canceled came from “Crackberry Support [].

    If Crackberry outsourced this support function to Mobihand, and allowed them to contact customers under the guise of “Crackberry Support”, then Crackberry needs to take the heat.