Frequently Asked Questions

The NearlyFreeSpeech.NET FAQ (*)

Troubleshooting (*)

Q. Why does your credit card form say my address (or zip) "failed validation" even though I know it is correct?

We have no idea. We do not make the determination of whether your address information is correct or not. (We have no way of knowing.)

Our system forwards the address information you provide to your card-issuing bank and basically they tell us "yes that's correct" or "no that's not correct." If your bank tells us that your information isn't correct, then our system tells you that the address information isn't correct. Your bank does not tell us why it is incorrect, nor what they believe the correct information to be.

Consequently, any questions you have about why your address was reported as incorrect should be directed to the bank that issued your card, not to us.

Should you find yourself in this situation, you should also be aware that your bank may place a temporary pre-auth hold on the funds, even though the transaction was declined. Also note that if you call your bank's customer service, it is fairly common for them to see the pre-auth hold and claim (incorrectly) that the transaction was approved without looking into it any further.

You may also encounter this issue if you are using a US-based bank but your billing address is outside the US. We have seen several cases where the banks could get the foreign address right on statements, but where their address verification system was totally unable to cope with it.

If you find yourself in this situation, for whatever reason, you have a couple of options:

Although the above applies mostly to US-based members, and those in other countries with compatible AVS implementations, the UK in particular uses a completely different system. Certain banks in the UK, for reasons we do not fully understand, falsely return that the address (or zip) is incorrect when they should return that they do not support this type of address verification. This error on their part will cause our system to reject your card no matter what you enter for your address details. This affects about 10% of our UK members.

This could happen even if you have successfully used the card other places online in the past. We are not only unusually strict in address verification enforcement to protect our members from fraud, but we are also not large enough to have specialized card processing options for the UK as many huge Internet retailers (e.g. Amazon) do. (We do use Stripe, which is one of the largest and most capable payment processors, and that has really cut back -- but not eliminated -- UK-based complaints about this issue.)

Of course, you can try contacting your bank, but it probably won't help, especially if you are in the UK. The customer service agents simply aren't trained on the intricacies of an address verification system that they apparently don't use. There's somebody deep in the bowels of the operations department of your bank who understands what's going on, but good luck getting them on the phone; we've never had a report that a member successfully accomplished that.

We are very sorry for the inconvenience caused to the handful of our members who run into these kinds of problems. It affects only a few, and is caused by a problem completely beyond our control, but it's still endlessly frustrating.