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International sales complications

I am having some problems with an order from overseas, and wondered
if others had any suggestions on avoiding such situations in future.

Since all my previous sales have been inside the United States, it
always seemed very straightforward - most of the time it involved
certified checks, money orders, or personal checks, or credit cards
through escrow services like Kagi or PayPal or Tradenable. I never
worried about the latter, figuring that they were probably worried
enough for both of us and would monitor closely for fraud. Personal
checks would clear in ten days, no problem.

This new order, for a bracelet, was paid almost in full with a credit
card. The customer is in a country that used to be part of the USSR.
Kagi took the order and said the card number was valid, so I went
ahead and purchased materials and got to work. I explained to the
customer that it would take me a while to tie the piece, but that I
would keep her informed, and that she would have to pay the balance
and shipping when the time came.

Now comes the difficult part. Several people have told me that they
will not do business with Eastern European connections except on a
cash basis, after having bad experiences. One person told me that the
problems repeatedly came up after a valid card was used, with a
chargeback after the fact, presumably due to stolen cards and disputed

I contacted Kagi and asked them how sure they were about this card.
They said “not very”, though in many more words. All they had done was
verify that it was a valid number and expiration date, apparently.

The customer has suddenly begun to act very nervous and demands that
I ship her the bracelet immediately. Still no sign of any payment of
the balance due, so I’m not going to do so, but it makes me very

A person in their fraud-prevention department is working with me to
find out more about the payment received so far. It’s on a card issued
in France, but he can’t find out any more about that until after the
weekend, when he expects to get records of the actual owner of the
card, to compare with the person who placed the order.

I’m also nervous because of some other things. The customer tells me
that due to high import duties, she doesn’t want me to assign a proper
value to the package. Since I’m charging her about eighteen hundred
dollars, I’m very reluctant to ship it without insuring it for full
value, and the ethical aspects are troubling as well. Her response was
to say she took all responsibility for any uninsured loss, which seems
a very devil-may-care attitude for someone who is so worried about
saving a paltry few hundred dollars.

So, here I am. I have no money. Kagi says they might have money for
me, unless they don’t, but they won’t be certain about that even after
they’ve paid me, since a victim of credit card fraud has weeks and
weeks to dispute a bill. I’m about to tell the customer that unless
she is willing to be patient and wait through a full billing cycle, I
will recommend that she just get a refund and either send me some form
of certified payment, or just forget the deal. Since she is acting so
strange that I am almost certain that I’m about to be cheated if I
ship to her, I suspect that I will never hear from her again.

What should I do in future? Should I just arbitrarily refuse to take
credit cards internationally, since the financial entities don’t seem
to pay much attention to them until after the damage is done? Should I
set a minimum wait time, like clearing personal checks, but long
enough for at least one credit card bill to arrive, thus reducing the
chance of disputed charges? What is the best method of secure payment
in such situations?

I’m by myself, and can’t afford to bring much legal pressure to bear,
especially across international boundaries, so I want to avoid
problems before they come up.


** Hanuman’s Response **

Dear Loren;

Beware of online transactions with customers from East Europe, USSR,
Indonesia and Malaysia. Use a good secure and anti fraud system, using
AVS ( Address Verification System ) and CCV1 (Last tree digits of the
card number), Manually call the bank and get authorization code, and
also make the customer to Fax you with his confirmation to charge his
card. With all these documents in hand you are almost [:-)] fraud

End of forwarded message

Hi, I have a form, that will hold up in a chargeback from a foreign
credit card, if you would like I can send it. We do lots of business
with out of the country sales, I usually call my credit card company
provider and get the issuing bank to verify it on the
phone and go from there. An escrow service would definately handle
it. Also, as to lower value on an invoice that is a vague area.
Since, you can forget insurance claims in certain countries, because
they mean nothing. If you read the fine print in postal regulations,
carrier forms etc.

Hope this helps,

While I have not had many international customers (only ones I have
known here that moved overseas) I can assure you that from a payment
and security standpoint you should not accept any jobs from overseas
that are not paid in full up front (and in which the payments have
truly cleared ). You have the same problem that that the retail
customers I talk to about their overseas trips are going to have. I
regularly get people who are going overseas and want to know what gems
to buy there. I tell them that as long as it doesn’t cost over $50.00
buy whatever they want. If they spend more than that and they get
back here and find out that what they bought isn’t what it was
purported to be THEY HAVE NO RECOURSE. You have no recourse if you
get screwed by someone overseas. Just don’t do anything until you
have CASH in hand.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140

All, Our experiences with outside the USA sales have been in two
separate arenas. Sales over the Internet and sales at Tucson Shows.
Out of about 20 transactions we have had problems with only one. On
the Internet we do not ship goods until the money is confirmed
deposited in our bank account. We had one problem with this in that
the individual involved was from Indonesia. According to FedEx you
cannot ship gemstones or precious metal jewelry to Indonesia. It
against their import regulations. At the large gem shows we have had
no problems. The dealers are all registered and know that if they
have a bad transaction their ability to do business at the shows will
be greatly impacted. Some dealers have had bad transactions at the
gemshows. They have instituted a policy that at a certain volume of
sales they will not ship goods until the money is in their hands.
Most of the larger deals are completed this way or completed at the
financial institutions around the shows. Dealing throughout the world
people in the business of gemstones and jewelry understand that their
personal integrity is what makes their business thrive. It is a no
nonsense approach. You are not honest, you do a very limited

Gerry Galarneau

Loren, DON"T SHIP!!! A friend of mine was recently in a similar
situation. He felt that he had checked out this person thoroughly. He
shipped he item to the Ukraine and as soon as it was out of his hands
there was a chargeback…not by the purchaser…by the real owner
of the card. The reason they want you to ship quickly is because if
the real owner of the card sees that charge before you ship they won’t
get their goods.


Thanks to all who responded to my request with comments and

An update on the situation: I canceled the charge-card transaction
and sent an apologetic message to the customer, stating that the
bracelet was ready and waiting, and would be shipped on receipt of
full payment by either a certified cashier’s check or a wire transfer,
whatever would work.

Haven’t heard back from her in several days, though, and am counting
myself a lucky man. :wink:


Hi. The only problem I ever had overseas was with Indonesia.
Apparently, they seem to be known to have a real fraud problem over
there. I know several people who got “burnt” and others who will not
dare ship anything there. Someone told me that they have a lot of
stolen credit cards that they use to buy merchandise. The purchase is
approved. But they want you to ship it to a different address than
its billed to. So they get the merchandise and by the time the
person’s credit card that was stolen gets the bill the fraud people
are long gone. And you are left with no merchandise, and a
chargeback. The order I received was for a lot of money and they
wanted it shipped FedX overnight. So, now if I get an order with a
different shipping address than a billing address I check it out
thoroughly b4 shipping. And I will not ship to Indonesia. Hope this
helps. Best, Victoria

Hi, I work In Dubai for a large IT company and have had many dealings
with this type of thing in my job which entails Web site design
Project Management.

The laws around CC payment online dictate that unless you obtain a
signature, you are liable for any problems that may arise after the
transaction has been completed. What this means is that even if you
did get the funds and shipped the Item, she could still come back and
dispute the payment with the CC company saying her Card was stolen
she did not order that item. They will refund her her money and expect
you to pay the CC company back !!!

What happens here in Dubai is that the only way an online transaction
can be done is (wait for it !!!) the customer has to fax a copy of the
front and back of the CC to you. That way you can be sure that she
actually owns the card … you could I suppose also fax her a copy of
the CC charge form ask her to sign it and fax back … (you may want
to check this with your CC company) but I am sure they will then tell
you that you will not be liable for such a transaction because you
have received the customers signature (much the same as if she had
walked into your Shop)

Hope this helps … by the way Jewellery is my Hobby and I love it (note I dont do E commerce on my web
site !!!

Hi, I have a form, that will hold up in a chargeback from a foreign
credit card, if you would like I can send it.

I’d like to see this, Eva. Will it hold up in a chargeback from a US
credit card when that is the foreign card?


As a Seller form a third world country on the Internet , I do
thousands of Dollars worth of business on the net on a monthly basis.
100 % of my sales are international transactions. In my opinion , the
world has become Closer And I don’t see any complications for
international trade…

Ahmed shareek
See us at our new location

Gerry, In your post you mention not being able to Fedex to Indonesia.
How did you overcome this problem. I’ve just had an order from
Indonesia and any info will be gratefully accepted. You can email me
offline if you like. TIA

McLeod’s Jewellers-Goldsmith-Designer
Specialist in hand made jewellery & corporate gifts,
made to order in gold, silver and platinum.

Regarding the order from Indonesia, our merchant account holder told
us to assume all orders from Indonesia are fraudulent, unless we
get a secure payment such as a money order, certified check, etc.
They advised us to not accept any charges from there. We did, and
were burned.


This has happened to us, in fact. We should have been more suspicious
both times, it’s true. The really galling one is the one who
desperately wanted us to ship the items to her daughter’s address, as
a gift; we lost the dispute she later made because we didn’t send
them to the billing address on the card. Really sleazy behavior.
There were some warning signs, though, and I’m annoyed that I didn’t
have more faith in my discomfort. Fortunately it wasn’t a huge

I really like the faxing solution, BTW- thanks for the suggestion!