How to unsuccessfully purchase an airconditioner using Bitcoin
As Californian temperatures soar into the 100’s, my husband and I have been forced from our sauna, a.k.a apartment, on a mission to find the elusive portable airconditioning unit. Just a few weeks ago, I was complaining about how chilly the mornings were, but these musings seem like distant memories as we frantically traipsed through the aisles of Best Buy, Target, Home Depot and Staples. The answer to our queries of “any aircons in the ba — -” were answered mid-sentence by each shop assistant violently shaking their heads in a way that was reminiscent of broken bobble heads.
As we were admitting defeat, I came up with a ‘Grand Plan.’ I am famous for my plans, mostly in that they haven’t been well considered and often end up putting us back at square one. Like the time that I decided to use puzzle glue without reading the instructions, resulting in me having to redo the puzzle on a piece of board that was covered in hardening glue whilst the husband moaned in disbelief (fairly, we had been working on the puzzle for weeks.)
The aircons ‘Grand Plan’ had one objective — secure an aircon, in record speed, using Bitcoin. My decision to use Bitcoin was sparked, in part, by the fact that one coin was valued at $12 000 that day. Given that I had purchased my measly portions of a coin when it was valued at $4000, I worked out that if I used $480 to buy an airconditioner, that I would have just about pulled out my principal investment and any value left would simply be interest accrued. This meant that executing my plan was a no brainer.
Purchasing Bitcoin is getting relatively easy, if you are able to navigate the KYC requirements and have a basic knowledge of keys and wallets. Spending Bitcoin however, has proven to be much more complex.
What follows, in the remainder of this article, is a play-by-play of the most frustrating purchasing experience that I have had since my first attempt at buying an underwire bra that did not jab me in the ribs.
1. I go to Overstock.com and after looking through the hundreds of aircon offerings, I finally decide on a ‘Honeywell 1000 BTU 4-in-1 Portable Airconditioner’. I do not purchase the extra warranty insurance because it is daylight robbery and a way that companies get scared consumers to give them more money, when their items are covered anyway by basic guarantees.
2. I choose Bitcoin as my payment method.
3. I click enter and a wallet address with QR code pops up. It asks me to scan it so that the funds will go to the correct address, courtesy of Coinpayments.
4. I go into my Celsius wallet. I click ‘withdraw funds.’
5. Celsius alerts me that it if I change my withdrawal address it will lock withdrawals for 24hrs. I have no choice. I scan the QR code. The QR code does not scan correctly so I start manually inputting the string of numbers and letters that makes up the address. I triple check my work.
6. I click accept what feels like 7 times. I confirm on the app, and on email and back again on the app and on email again, in a loop-de-loop that results in me not really knowing what is going to happen next.
7. I go back to Overstock and confirm that I have made my payment, which I think I have at this point.
8. I check 15 hours later to see if the address is still locked on Celsius. It is and it informs me that I have 9 hours to go before I will be allowed to access my coins.
9. I am back at my computer one minute after the 24 hours are up and I withdraw to the wallet and I am delighted because I receive a notification from Coinpayments to say that the funds have been received. They even send me a link to see the confirmed transaction on the Blockchain.
10. I receive a text from Overstock.com confirming my order and that the request has been sent to the warehouse. It will arrive in 4 days. That is just the amount of time I need to not die in the apartment I reckon. Everything is going to be okay!
11. A day before the aircon is about to arrive, I go onto the website to check my order status because I have become quite aware of the lack of correspondence on Overstock’s part. My order seems to have the same status as it did the day that I got the confirmation.
12. I call Overstock and I speak to a person who clearly has no idea what he is doing. He informs me that my payment has been sent to the fraud department. Uhm, ok. I get it. Bitcoin payments are a new thing. This might take a little longer.
13. What sends me over the edge is when I am told that I can expect a response to my escalated query in 3–5 business days. I state, yet again, that the system still says my aircon is arriving the day thereafter and the Customer Relations ‘Expert’ assures me that it will not be arriving. Great!
14. I decide to call back and ask to speak to someone who knows what they are doing. I reach someone who might actually know that their company takes Bitcoin payments, but he needs to escalate the query to the Finance Department. I wait patiently on the line until a few moments later, he informs me that he cannot get hold of the finance department. It is a Friday before lunch time and Overstock’s finance department cannot be reached by phone. So, you have my money, you haven’t got any information on the status of my purchase, and the finance department may very well be on a long weekend.
15. I am informed that I will receive a response in 48 business hours. That technically means that I might get a response in a week from now, to let me know if my payment for the item that is meant to arrive tomorrow, has been processed, which it clearly has been because it is on the blockchain.
I still do not know whether I will hear back from them, but whilst I wait, melting and dehydrated and bitter, my question to Overstock is this — wasn’t the entire point of enabling Bitcoin payments to avoid this type of centralized, censored payment system? Wasn’t the point to make peer-to-peer payments accessible and easy?
The company is clearly missing the mark.