DNA Lounge: Wherein we find that the State Legislature is dumb, and so are banks.

Don't forget: ZOMBIE DNA this Saturday! I watched the rehearsal, and the show is going to be hilarious.

To nobody's great surprise, the proposal to move San Francisco's last call time from 2am to 4am was shot down by the State Assembly yesterday. According to John Wood of SFLNC:

The SFLNC is disappointed to announce that AB 2433, state legislation to allow for a later last call in San Francisco, failed to make it out of committee at the State Assembly, effectively killing any chance of passage this year.

While San Francisco officials were heavily in support of the bill, statewide anti-alcohol groups lined up against AB 2433, claiming that it would lead inevitably to later last call in other parts of the State. [...]

In addition, testimony from a mother of a person killed by a drunk driver clearly made the legislators uncomfortable in voting for the legislation. [...] Many democratic legislators left the room after the Mother Against Drunk Drivers testimony and did not vote, so there were not enough votes to move the bill out of committee.

So it was killed by the "if we can save just one child, won't it all have been worth it?" argument that prohibitionists of all stripes have been using for centuries. Well, maybe next year (though I'm not holding my breath.)

Our online ticket sales have been working out reasonably well, but the way address verification works sure is a confusing mess. We keep having people trying to buy tickets and finding that their bank has the wrong address on file (or the wrong zip code, or something) and so the address verification fails. When this happens, they try to buy tickets six times in a row, it doesn't work, and then finally they call their bank to find out what's up. The bank phone-monkey oh-so-helpfully tells them that their credit card was charged six times, and they angrily call us demanding we give them their money back.

The problem with this is that we don't have their money! They were never charged. Probably the phone-monkey said something like "your card was authorized for $20 six times", but phone-monkey helpfully doesn't bother to explain the difference between "authorized" and "charged", and the customer understandably freaks out.

It's just such an amazingly stupid system. When you place an order, the bank does this:

    1. Verify that sufficient funds are available.

    2. If so, place a "hold" on the amount of the transaction. (This doesn't take the money out of your account, it just reserves it. Banks call this "authorization".)

    3. Check that the address you entered matches;

    4. If the address matched, then transfer the money from your account to our account. (This is where your card is actually charged; banks call this "capture".)

    5. If the address did not match, then release the "hold" on the funds that was made in step 2.

Ok, what's wrong with this picture? Well, the first thing that's wrong is, why the hell do they hold the money before validating the address?? That's just insane!

Oh, but it gets better: because apparently some (many? most?) banks don't bother with step 5 at all. That's right, if you typo the address, they don't cancel the "authorization", so that money is in limbo until it times out. It's still in your account (it hasn't been transferred to anybody) but it's unavailable to you until the hold expires, which can take anywhere from a day to a couple of weeks, depending on the bank.

Combine this egregious design with the fearmongering being spread by incommunicative bank phone-monkeys, and you end up with unhappy customers thinking we're ripping them off. It's just great.

Banks are dumb.