Bill Foy’s gift cards don’t work. Why isn’t Adorama listening to him?
Question: I’m trying to resolve an issue with Adorama, an online electronics retailer. I’ve been trying to buy a camera from them through their site using four gift cards worth a total of $200. I’m trying to put the remainder on my credit card. I’ve found no way to do that online.
I should add that I’m hearing impaired and can’t use the phone for this, so I’ve been trying to resolve this online.
I contacted Adorama’s customer service department and gave them my gift card information. A representative told me the gift cards were turned down “by your credit card company.”
I checked the balances and they show $0 and the cards having been used at Adorama. I simply want them to credit me with the $200 they’ve obviously gotten from the gift cards and let me pay the remainder with my credit card. Can you help? — Bill Foy, Upper Gwynedd, Pa.
Answer: This is indeed a mystery, but it’s not unsolvable. Adorama should have been able to apply your $200 toward your camera purchase. You were using an open-loop gift card for your transaction, which means it was issued by a company like MasterCard or Visa, and some of those cards will let you transfer the remaining cash to your bank account. But watch for fees.
Check for regulations that might benefit you. For example, residents of California can cash out any gift card with a balance of less than $10. But there are money-laundering laws that prevent gift cards from being able to be turned into cash. They also prohibit the value of a gift card from exceeding $1,000.
In your case, it wasn’t really a question of whether you could transfer the balance to your account, though. A quick call to Adorama by a member of my advocacy team revealed that one of your gift cards was declined, which voided the entire transaction. The cause? A simple data entry error. That could have easily been clarified with a phone call, but you couldn’t do that because of your disability.
Adorama reran your credit card and shipped your camera. I would recommend that the company finds a way to handle more complex transactions like yours through email, so that history doesn’t repeat itself.