What’d you do if you were me

New 7kem
May 23 15 Comments

Before I begin I want to state clearly that I fully acknowledge my part of this problem, so no reminder is needed. I’m just interested in learning how this could be handled.

<story>
I had this spark app that’s needed for my master thesis. The app needs to run on a decent cluster, and using a cloud service for that was the reasonable way to go. I knew my app needed more than what’s offered on many cloud services‘ free tier, so I always looked for the more “premium” options and was totally willing to pay for my usage. It was great also to learn that I can pay only for actual use of the service (i.e. tasks submitted to servers). I tried aws first, and google’s dataproc second. For different reasons the app failed to return results in both cases (mysterious error msg in aws, and google taking a long time to approve my request for more resources).

Being under time pressure to just simply find a way to run the app and see its results, and having already wasted some time on learning about and using two services, I thought maybe I need to try another one, and see if I can get quickly what I’m looking for. I tried ibm cloud service. As I was reading about their offerings and learning about their services, I found what looked like what I needed, a premium service where I won’t be asking for resources and waiting for approval. Great this could finally be the way to quickly submit my spark job and get its results, sign me up. And just like that, I signed for the service and was ready to learn how to submit jobs. Suddenly, I get an email from google saying we approved your request for more resources, the limit is raised, yay.

Now I had two choices either ignoring them and continuing with ibm since I just signed up, or go back to google and simply rerun your app? I chose the latter.

Problem: I made the mistake of thinking that I’ll be charged for what I used only, just like with aws and gcp; so I can leave my ibm account and go back to google. Later that month, an invoice from ibm appears on my email saying that the cost of my usage was 5K$ and this amount is paid IN FULL. I freaked the hell out and went to check my credit card, and no such amount is charged. So I thought it maybe sent by mistake and somebody at ibm may notice that. Wrong. The next month I get another bill, and the month after it. Okay it seems like I should go back and close my account myself since these three “paid IN FULL” bills won’t stop. The month after that, a collector agent is contacting me and asking for all three bills to be paid < 22K$.
They say I should’ve read their mile-long terms of service before enabling the service.
</story>

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TOP 15 Comments
  • Microsoft Mindfuck
    I would call the company again and ask for a manager. Explain that you are a student who made a mistake and can't possibly afford something for a service you didn't even use. If they refuse, then I would go public. If you really are a research student, and can verify the story, I bet it could go viral. this is a PR nightmare that IBM can't possibly afford lol
    May 23 3
    • New 7kem
      OP
      I can verify everything I said. And I’m having this problem for the first time, and really not sure how to handle it!
      May 23
    • Microsoft Mindfuck
      Not suggesting otherwise! But yeah, if I were you, I'd make a Reddit post, throw it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, any social media you can think of. If it works on Airlines (Google United Airlines dead dog, in case anyone reading lives under a rock haha) edit: It should work here (I got a text and totally forgot to finish my sentence). If you do go viral, remember to give mindfuck credit lol and good luck! Definitely try the manager first tho lol
      May 23
    • AnchorFree Israel
      Yeah if they'll not refund after a call with support and manager if support, you should make a scandal post on social media so the public will boo them :))))
      May 23
  • T-Mobile rx350
    Get a new job and give away your joining bonus to pay the bill. Never ever repeat that again.
    May 23 1
    • AnchorFree Israel
      OP should not pay this, it's an automatic billing by the system and automatic procedure to send further to collectors, he can still try to negotiate that and make it cancelled for him I'm pretty sure.
      May 24
  • Call them asap. Told them what you told us. Good luck.
    May 23 1
    • New 7kem
      OP
      Already did; see my previous comment
      May 23
  • Nvidia wagecuck
    Just contact them they will probably refund.
    May 23 2
    • New 7kem
      OP
      they said “it has been decided...” that I must pay the first bill 5K in full ... 5K for an unused service!
      May 23
    • Nvidia wagecuck
      Cancel the payment through credit card company
      May 23
  • Too long to read
    May 23 1
    • AnchorFree Israel
      TLDR: the company you work for, charges people for not using their services. :D
      May 23
  • AnchorFree Israel
    Following your logic, one should never ask for refunds when he bought stuff in Costco\Amazon\etc that he didn't liked it didn't used.
    One should remember not to buy stuff he doesn't need, remember once and never repeat :) .
    But that's wrong because there are strong consumer protection laws in USA.
    For some other countries I would agree with you by the way, but not for US.
    May 24 0
  • AnchorFree Israel
    Most chances that you can contact support and they will refund or cancel it whatever they can do, so yeah you had to contact them immediately when you got the first notification.
    As a large Enterprise oriented company, they will refund your bill they don't care, you're not their target auditory and not a potential client\source of big income.

    If you were a legal startup entity they would not refund and will pursue you to pay them, but as an individual person (and a student) they have no reason to attempt to bill you when they see the situation is special.
    May 23 0

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