Yahoo and MSN are in the midst of their big merge, and from a PPC standpoint, it’s really quite business as usual. Until you get the billing end of it and then it’s a nightmare.

MSN is supplying the results of the search, but Yahoo is handling all the billing. What that means is that all charges will come from Yahoo on your credit card statement, not from MSN. On its own, that’s confusing enough – I’ve had quite a few confused emails from my clients who wonder, if Yahoo is “going away” why are they still getting charges from them? But the nightmare end of it is what’s happening on those client’s credit cards – multiple, crazy billing charges.

Yahoo billed on a prepay plan (money in an account which click charges were taken from, like a checking account). MSN billed on a post-pay plan (accrue the charges, then MSN would charge you for them later, like Google AdWords). And that’s where the craziness is coming in – Yahoo is switching all these clients from post to prepay, and charging clients to build up their account so they have money to withdraw from.

One client I have was billed $1 on 10/1 and $25 on the 3rd, 7th, 11th, 14th and 17th. And I’m sure they’ll be hit again on the 21st.

A bigger mess is what happened to the client I heard from yesterday. They were billed $500, $400 and 13 times for $25 on 10/18. And yesterday they were billed another $600. That’s $1825 in two days.

The charges are legitimate, but the large amounts charged so fast are difficult for some to afford. Plus the $25 is such a low number and so many times.

While poking around in MSN, I was able to find a setting on the account details page for the Auto Recharge Amount. Looks like the default setting is $25. You are able to change that to whatever you would like. Why they picked $25, I don’t know. Why they didn’t require the client to select that amount, again, I don’t know.

We’re also having issues with clients where we’re unable to enter a billing credit card. Doesn’t seem to matter what we do, the card just won’t go in. It’s not that the card is declined, it’s just technically able to be entered successfully.

I am hoping that this merger will prove beneficial to my clients, but the confusion and amount of time being spent on fixing crazy issues is definitely beneficial to noone. Thankfully, the customer support is coming from Yahoo, which I’m grateful for. We have a fantastic dedicated Yahoo rep named Lynda who is doing her best in a really crazy situation. We’re talking to her multiple times a day with all these issues, and she’s really going to bat for our clients. I’m sure it will turn out okay, but for now, what a mess.