I have never been a big fan of prepaid gift cards such as the ones you can get from American Express or Visa but after my experience a few days ago I hate them. Seriously, I think they are complete scam and should be avoided at all cost.
Here’s what happened.
I was going through my wallet the other day and remembered that I had an AmexEx gift card. Since I have been looking at a few albums I want to download from Amazon I went over to the Amazon site, selected one of the albums, added the gift card to my account as if it were a credit card (which is effectively what I thought it was supposed to be) and went to check out. When I did I was told that the card was invalid. I assumed that I had gotten some digit wrong along the way. I then went back into my account settings and reentered all of the gift card’s information. I went back to my shopping cart and attempted to make the purchase once again. Once again I was told that the card was invalid.
I didn’t understand what was going on so I went to the American Express gift card website.
I checked my balance and discovered that I had two one dollar purchases that had been made just a few minutes prior. “What the…???” I wondered. That’s right, both failed attempts to use the card that costs me a dollar from the card. That made no sense to me so I called customer service.
When I finally got a customer service representative on the phone I was told that any attempt to use the card has a one dollar service fee attached to it. I didn’t know what to say to that but it got worse… I was then told that I can use the card online but I had to first connect the card to my name and my address so that the vendor selling the product would know who I am and would see the card as a valid card.
I asked where this information was available and the customer representative said… no, actually she said nothing because she didn’t know. That was the second strike. The third came soon after…
When the representative had finished manually inputting all of my information (it took a while since the names “Daniel” and “Cohen” are apparently quite difficult to spell) I asked how I could do this on the website myself in the future rather than having the hassle of having to call in, speak to a representative and having the representative of manually input all of the information. I was told by the representative… I COULD NOT.
That’s right, you can’t use a gift card online until you have connected your name and address to it. And you can only add your name and address to it by calling a customer representative, walking through the process and spelling your name numerous times until they get it right. (Yup, you had better hope your name isn’t one of those difficult to spell names like… Smith.) 🙂 Ridiculous.
Oh, and one more thing. If you try to use the card before you’ve done this The card will be rejected and you will be charged a dollar.
Where is all this written down and explained clearly and obviously? I don’t know.
What I do know is that I’m not going to use or give any of these cards ever again.