Digitally Mugged

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UPDATE – 19/01/2014
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This issue has now been fully resolved, Director of Support at Unity ‘Graham Dunnett’ has provided adequate assurance to the issues I have raised in a very prompt manner this weekend.

Graham’s acknowledgement that the first time purchasers experience on Unity’s Asset store will be addressed, has reassured me that Unity Technologies will continue to be a great company in providing the tools and services we can trust in.

Thank you Graham.
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I’m no stranger to online purchases, having worked on e-commerce websites and of course been an end user myself, I would like to think I have a good grasp on online transactions. Though recently I was confounded at how I ended up unknowingly paying more for online goods than I had originally agreed to.

So here’s what happened and I put it to you for your opinion as whether I was really ‘Digitally Mugged’ or not.

If you made a purchase for two items totalling an informed cost (advertised on the store) of $160 would you be happy to pay $205 after the checkout procedure?

Well that happened to me and here’s how:

  1. I researched a few items I was interested in purchasing.
  2. I proceeded to head to the online store to purchase the items and check their prices.
  3. I confirmed that both items I wanted were available.
  4. I checked the US Dollar advertised price was within my budget by visiting an online currency convertor.
  5. I added the items to the cart knowing the advertised cost was within my budget.
  6. I double checked the cost in the cart was the same as advertised on the store.
  7. I double checked the total cost of both items on the online currency convertor
  8. Happy believing both items was within my budget I proceeded to the checkout.
  9. Checkout without warning added 25% tax (VAT) to the transaction.
  10. Checkout without warning converted the currency from USD to Euros
  11. Only visual evidence of a change in cost was the use of a Euro sign next to the total instead of a a US Dollar sign.
  12. Without any notification cost had changed (increase of 25%) I proceeded to make a credit card payment for the goods.
  13. For a very short time I was happy and excited about my purchase.

Now I know what your thinking, an additional increase of about 25% would be noticeable so why make the final card payment. I would probably say the same but let’s break this down into numbers that I would of seen.

I added ‘160’ US dollars of digital goods to the cart, nothing advertised whether tax was included or not. (So effectively tax was a hidden charge)
In the checkout that was converted to Euro and an additional 25% added on for tax (VAT) ‘WITHOUT ANY WARNING’
That new total in Euro was ‘152’.

Now can you see how that does not look like a significant increase in cost? New price immediately looks like $8 dollars cheaper, remember that there was no notification of currency change or added tax.

Surely I can’t be the only one that finds that borders the edges of fraudulent activity. By changing currency without warning they have hidden the cost of tax during the checkout process, so the end user is unaware they have paid about 25% more for the goods than they originally thought they would.

Note: Whilst I admit that the Euro sign was on the checkout amount, no warning had be given to the end user that would highlight it as something important to check, so easily browsed over and missed.

So was I ‘Digitally Mugged’? SHould the store of been more transparent in warning the end user of the changes in cost during the checkout?

In the meantime I’m communicating with the company in question about the experience, I will update this post if I get any new information. Their view so far is the additional cost was it was tax.. no opinion on whether changing currency or adding tax without warning was appropriate or not.. I have responded to them and awaiting to hear back on a more detailed response that can justify their checkout process.

You can leave a comment or tweet/email/FB me you opinions, I’d be interested in hearing your views.

Additional:
Something to note, the cost of the items I purchased now reflect the new cost with tax on the store ie from $65 pre purchase to the new $81.25. If I log out of my account for the store it shows $65 again.
No mention on either that the amount has tax included or not.

UPDATE
Just received a second response from the company in question and since they deem to see no fault I have no reservations in naming the company as Unity3d.
Their latest response to my checkout experience was:

Hi There,

Thanks for the e-mail.

You was charged €152.00 which translates to round about £126.39.

You are the only current user who is stating that the checkout process does not display the truth about what is being charged. I’m not sure how to say what we are going to do about an issue we cannot reproduce.

If you wish to be refunded than please let me know.

The email they responded to had the following attachments which clearly highlight different prices in the same currency for the same item.
Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 11.45.25Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 11.45.51

At no point has Unity accept that adding vat without notification is inappropriate.
At no point has Unity accepted changing currency mid transaction is inappropriate.
Unity accepts that since I am the only one to have noticed this that they deem in insignificant to act on to ensure their future customers are informed appropriately.

I have no issue about the fact I had to pay 25% tax on my purchase, I accept that and I’m pleased with the products. What I have issues with is the lack of acceptance that Unity has a responsibility to inform it’s users appropriately throughout their checkout process. Furthermore I have an issue that my experience is deemed unimportant to act on because I’m the only one to highlight it as a concern.

Seriously, if any of my clients had one of their customers report this as an experience on an e-commerce site I’d built, I would be rolled over hot coals and made to investigate and correct any issues immediately. Even if it was just one customer reporting it..

You know what Unity.. I expected better from a company that is leading the field in cross platform interactive media.

2 thoughts on “Digitally Mugged

  1. I’m Graham and run the support team for Unity. I’ve just replied to your support case, talked you through how our web and asset store handle purchases in different currencies and region, apologised for your poor experience, offered you a full refund, and make recommendations to our asset store team for improvements.

    1. Thanks for email Graham and finally an apology for the confusion the checkout processed caused, something I should of received in my first support email reply.

      I will reply to your email as soon as I can to clarify my perspective.

      General Note: No refund required, my issue is with the checkout process not the goods purchased.

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