NEVER BUY A VANILLA VISA GIFT CARD! The things are a complete scam and a rip-off. Here is what happened to me today:
Beth is going out of town this week so she bought me a Vanilla VISA Gift Card with $100 on it so I’d have some money for the week. My paychecks go into our “usual” checking account, but we paid bills and it’s empty until payday on Friday. Her paychecks go into a different account and I don’t have a debit card on that one; normally I just let her pay for everything until the main account has money again, but since she’ll be out of town, this seemed like an easy temporary solution.
I tried to use the gift card this morning to put gas in my car, but the card was declined at the pump. So I went inside the gas station and it was declined again at the counter. I called the 800 number on the back of the card and the automated voice told me that there was a credit of $100 on the card, but the available balance was $0. Weird.
So I hit 0 until I was put through to a customer support guy. He told me that since I had swiped the card at the pump, it had put a hold on $100 on the card that would be returned in “about six days”, or roughly a day after Beth gets back in town. This is what makes me really angry: They put a hold on the money, but also declined the sale! YOU CAN’T DO BOTH. Put the hold and allow the sale, or decline it and do nothing. In essence, the $5 Beth spent on the card was buying us the “privilege” of letting Vanilla VISA play with our $100 for a week.
I asked to speak with a supervisor, but the customer service rep wouldn’t let me. Instead, he put me on hold and after several minutes came back and said that his supervisor would release $25 of the hold, but not the other $75.
Clearly this is a complete rip-off. It’s totally unfair to both hold the money and decline the sale. It’s unfair and it should be illegal. The idiot on the phone said he understood that I was “frustrated”. I replied that I was not frustrated, I was furious.
Not that I think it will do much good, but I’m filing complaints with the Federal Trade Commission, the Florida Attorney General, and the Better Business Bureau. If I can think of anyone else to file a complaint with, I will. From what I’ve found online, I’m hardly the first one to get ripped off by these crooks.
I know many people use these cards as a convenient way to send gifts; heck, my parents do. I strongly recommend against it. Avoid these rip-off artists. They should be out of business (at the very least).
- RIP OFF ALERT: AVOID VANILLA VISA GIFT CARDS