Share-It: A Decade of Racism

Continuing the subject of racism…


As racist as some governments can be, so are some companies.


Share-It, a payment services provider based out of Europe, have been engaged in racism for well over a decade.


How do I know?


Any time I place an order from a Turkish IP, Share-It declines the order with the generic reason “Unfortunately, we were unable to charge your credit card for your order.” This has been happening for well over a decade.


Need I mention that the credit cards in question have never had an issue with their credit limit? In fact, the very same order would succeed when placed on a non-Turkish IP (even with the same credit card).


That’s 10 years of racism, brought to you by the ecommerce company Share-It.


This despicable and wanton act of racism has not gotten better – it has only gotten worse over the years.


For instance, in previous years, Share-It representatives would actually get on the phone to verify orders that their fraud protection system deemed suspicious. This had helped me clear orders, albeit, with additional hassles introduced – such as requests for copies of the back and front of the credit card used while placing the orders, as well as an official government ID.


Now, even calling someone at Share-It does not result in a resolution.


Share-It was a German company that was later acquired by Digital River, a US company. Unfortunately, Digital River did nothing to stop the racism at Share-It after their acquisition.


Surely, there are many European companies that are not racist.


Our own ecommerce provider Cleverbridge is one such company, with whom I have not had negative experiences of racism. They were actually founded by some former Share-It people, and they are a German company as well. Clearly, some companies are making better choices than others and declining racism.


Racism tends to breed racism in return, so one cannot be too careful in consciously attempting to prevent any further instances of racism.


If you are using Share-It as your payment provider, I would strongly urge you to use another payment provider. There’s no telling how many legitimate orders you are missing!

The Anatomy of a Price Increase

InstallAware increased prices for customers in the Schengen Visa zone (most of Europe) by 30% on Monday, 17th of December 2012.


“Apple do it, so I am doing it too…”


My friend Harry Kelly (ComponentSource) cautioned me strongly against increasing prices in Europe. His thinking was that, unless there is some specific value-add for the European region, the increase cannot be justified. He provided credible rationale that companies who did charge higher prices indeed provided localized services or some other value-adds which justify the increase in cost.


Apple’s Cow Manure


Of course, no matter what the rationale, we all feel it’s basically greed. For example, Apple sells their tablets in Europe, at US prices –clearly these are as localized as their phones are. The phones they sell at a heavy markup. So why not the tablets? Apple faced stiff competition in the tablet space, so they just couldn’t jack up the prices. It’s all about the competition.


InstallAware’s Facts


What’s InstallAware’s rationale then? Is it some justification of greed? No, it is not. Our rationale for the recent price increase is that our costs of doing business in Europe are getting exponentially higher. How/why? Take a hint from the opening line of this blog.


My First Schengen Visa


I must have gotten my first Schengen visa in 2003. I was unemployed (erm, an entrepreneur) back then. I had no work history and no assets. I was trying to get to Cologne to attend my first European shareware conference. I suffered countless long waits in line, many an early morning, in front of the German embassy in Ankara. To say these waits were undignified would be an understatement. Having received college education in the US, I had grown accustomed to a basic semblance of human rights. All of these were being unilaterally violated by the treatment of visa applicants at the German embassy in Ankara.


I did eventually get my visa issued. It was valid for one week only! This visa was certainly the shortest I have ever been issued. Talk of freedom of travel!


My Subsequent Schengen Visa’s


My first morning in line outside the German embassy, I’d had a very unnerving encounter. A stranger had shown up right next to me and started volunteering information on how to get visas for travel to Germany. Usually I get suspicious when information is being volunteered in this manner…


… so while my mind was spinning around about the implications of what I was hearing from this strange volunteer of information, I was completely unprepared for the eventuality that his predictions would turn out to be entirely accurate. He said that I’d get my first visa for a week. And then the next one would be issued for two weeks. Then the next one for a month, assuming I never overstayed my visa. And then two months or three months, after which, six months – or a full year if I was lucky.


Now at this point, I already had a ten year US visa on my passport. So it all was a bit too  much to take in. I was in denial about what I was being told.


In fact, the visas that I would be eventually issued over the years followed this exact same pattern. So much so, that it would be in 2011 when I was finally issued a full year’s visa.


By which point, of course, I was no longer unemployed – or penniless. So it did not come as a surprise to me, and when I applied for my latest Schengen visa recently, just weeks ago, I was expecting a 2 year, or dare I say, 5 year visa!


European Racism


My latest Schengen visa, which was issued less than a month ago, is valid for three weeks, and it is a single entry visa. And the maximum stay allowed is a total of ten days!


This visa is utterly non-usable. This visa grounds me and restricts my freedom of travel in Europe completely. How come I’ve ended up being a persona-non-grata in Europe?


I cannot come up with any other rationale for it other than European racism. Sure, in 2003, Germany had plenty of reasons to be concerned about an unemployed visitor. But in 2012, Holland has absolutely no reasons to be concerned about my visit. If anything, they should be trying to encourage me to stay longer, so I can spend my money in their nice country.


We did appeal to the Dutch embassy in Ankara. Our appeal was rejected. The utter rape of the anonymous information volunteer’s pattern was final!


InstallAware R&D is Based in Turkey


Ever since our founding in 2003, InstallAware R&D has been based out of Ankara, Turkey.


If the founder of InstallAware has trouble getting Schengen visas, imagine what InstallAware employees must go through trying to get Schengen visas?


The “fiat” cost of a visa is absolutely negligible compared to the opportunity cost and especially the loss of time with a special emphasis on the indignities laid on the applicant.


Our accountants have worked this cost out to be about 30% of our net costs. Which aligns, rather nicely, with InstallAware’s switch to EUR based pricing in Europe.


You May Appeal!


Unhappy that you have to pay an extra 30% just because you’re based in Europe? Somehow am I not surprised by your reaction!


Because we’re not racist, we’ll issue you a 30% discount coupon if you:


1)      Call or fax the Dutch embassy in Ankara, and let them know you are calling in connection with the subject matter of this blog.




2)      Call or fax your EU representative, asking them to terminate their racist practice of limiting Turkish freedom of travel in Europe.




Let them know that a global company with R&D headquartered in Turkey has been forced to pass on Schengen visa costs to you, their customer in Europe.


For your convenience, the phone and fax numbers of the visa department of the Dutch embassy in Ankara are provided below:


Voice: +90 312 409 17 50 (GMT+2 13.30- 16.30 hours only)

Fax: +90 312 409 18 91


Provide us with a recording of the phone conversation or a copy of the fax (including the transmission sent confirmation) and we will provide you with a 30% discount, offsetting the effects of our EUR based pricing in your region.


InstallAware will honor this discount on direct orders as well as reseller orders.


Thank you for helping us make the world a better place!


PS: Please do not be tempted to circumvent our pricing through proxies etc. InstallAware has to decline orders from companies/individuals based in the Schengen visa zone that have circumvented our geo-IP targeting.