Don’s Disney Year – No Malice in Blunderland

May 13, 2011

Sometimes, you launch yourself and soar like an eagle…

Other times, you have all the aerodynamic qualities of a small Shetland pony. Oh, it may be cute as it sails through the air, but the landing will most certainly not be pretty.

I’ve been anxiously awaiting this date for quite some time. It’s been circled on my calendar, and as the days counted down, I thought about how it would be a launchpad to my new adventures. You see, today’s the day I was to purchase my Florida Resident Annual Pass for Walt Disney World.

This item is a crucial element in the entire Disney Year project. Without the pass, there is no way I can afford the multiple times accessing all the resort activities over the course of the year. But I am confident that will not be an issue. I am attending the Destination D: Walt Disney World’s 40th event this weekend, so I am looking forward to holding this golden ticket, that magical annual pass.

I logged in this morning, debit card in hand, ready to navigate to Disney Nirvana. Knowing I could upgrade at a later date, I selected an Epcot After 4 p.m. Annual Pass – the best entry level rate for a beginner like myself. I followed the path for purchase step by step: selected the type and quantity of pass, verified I was a Florida resident, entered my essential information, including personal and billing addresses, gave the system my credit card number, agreed to the terms and conditions of the contract, and then, without a moment’s hesitation, pushed the “Purchase” button.

At first, nothing. The screen flashed briefly, then came back and stated:

ZIP CODE INCORRECT
PLEASE REVIEW AND REENTER

A quick glance found the problem – the autocomplete function of my browser (thank you, Google Chrome) had added the first part of the zip+4 to the billing address zip code, so it read “33803+14.” An easy fix. I made the change, pressed “Purchase” again…

All heck broke loose on my computer.

Well, at least on my browser. The website kept resetting itself over and over and over, like it was continuously retransmitting data – never a good sign, especially where financial information is concerned. The screen was flashing multiple images — the page header, the background graphic only, then the start of the text, but no coherent message. This was cycling over and over, like some sort of Disney slot machine.

Would Don come up with three Mickeys and get his Annual Pass?

Sadly, no.

After four minutes of this the screen goes completely white, there is a momentary high pitched squeal, and then it went dark. Moments later, I get the dreaded Google Chrome dead website message:

Google's Website Screen of Doom...

OK, so I couldn’t buy a ticket right now. But that transaction was weird, So I check my account, and sure enough, I find that Walt Disney World has indeed charged my debit card account the amount of a down payment ($87.33).

Quickly to the phone I go. After all, if the company took my money, they must have completed the sale. I just needed to have the e-Certificate resent to me, right?

WRONG. The reason the website went wonkers is that there was an issue between the address on my debit card at the bank and the one I entered. Coocle Chrome attempted to auto-fill the zip-code field with a Zip+4 code when there wasn’t enough space for all the characters. Thus, the transaction failed.

That said, though, even though the transaction ultimately was rejected, Disney still put a hold on the funds with my bank. Bad juju there.

Figuring this out and getting the bank and Disney to agree on what happened would go on all day. For the first three hours, we went back and forth, until my bank and Walt Disney World agreed to cancel the transaction, and allow me to try again with a different credit card number.

Ever hear that definition of insanity, the one about the same action and different results? It definitely applied here, as the second attempt failed with the same spectacular computer behavior, albeit using a different browser – thank you, Firefox!

To make things worse, instead of the second credit card being charged, for some reason Disney placed another hold for the same amount for the down payment against the first debit card.

Bad Disney. Bad. No cookie for you.

Thus, after a total of five hours with bank and Disney customer service personnel on two different phone lines attempting to find some resolution, I sit here this evening without my desired new Annual Pass. I am dejected, yet resolute. My day will come soon, just not this night.

In the meantime, I offer the following bullet points to my friends at the House of Mouse:

1) Please let Florida Residents use the Annual Pass 12-month payment program via phone or in-person as well as online, since the latter seems fraught with errors.

2) If you are going to say yes or no to someone, do not take their money until after you’ve approved the purchase.

3) Whatever you are paying the young gentleman named Tanner who is manning the Online Chat for Guest Services, it isn’t enough. Double it. Then Double THAT! This young man listened patiently to my tale of woe and consternation and then helped me developed a solid Plan B for getting around the Resort this weekend for Destination D.

Thus, with this adventure behind me, I am off on a new journey. Each day, a new port, a new experience, around the World.

If you’re lucky enough to attend Destination D this weekend, I hope to meet you.

If not, but you will be in the area and just want to say “Hello” along the way, please feel free to do so as well.

Take care of yourselves, play nice, and wish me luck!

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