Unfortunately, we can’t help with closed Amazon accounts

What is up with Amazon.com’s gift card program? Scott Kimura wants to know.

Kimura asked for help to unlock his $1,100 gift card account with Amazon, which showed an unauthorized redemption by someone named “Alli.” But Amazon’s agents refused to give him any information about what appeared to be a fraud. One told him to read Amazon’s terms and conditions — which are not favorable to Kimura or any other owner of Amazon’s gift cards.

Our advocates and forum have been hearing from a large number of Amazon gift card owners who suddenly find that their balances have disappeared – and Amazon won’t return their money.

It happened to Carlos Becerra. And to Ander Guzman. Brothers Steve and Romaine Campbell experienced it too, as did Ty Osburn and Louis Morgan. And those are just a few of the persons facing this problem.

Amazon first notifies them that their gift card accounts are being closed. That is the only time they have contact with a human being at Amazon. Any subsequent contacts are met with automated responses only.

Some of these gift card holders have written or called our executive contacts in the hope of getting their accounts reopened and balances restored — but with no success.

Unfortunately for anyone stuck with a suddenly unusable Amazon gift card, we can’t help reopen your account.

It’s not that we don’t want to help — or that we don’t feel your pain. We agree that consumers like you, who acquired gift cards from Amazon in good faith, should have the right to use the money in those accounts to make purchases on Amazon.com within the limits of the terms and conditions.

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And it’s not that we haven’t reached out to Amazon on behalf of numerous consumers facing this issue. We have, but unfortunately, Amazon has been no more responsive to our advocates than to those consumers.

On the surface, it certainly appears to be extremely poor customer service to suddenly close accounts without warning or explanation.

But Amazon’s gift card terms and conditions disclaim all liability for problems with gift cards. The terms and conditions even indicate that Amazon has the right to revoke them at will:

The risk of loss and title for Gift Cards pass to the purchaser upon our electronic transmission of the Gift Card to the purchaser or designated recipient, or our delivery to the carrier, whichever is applicable. We are not responsible if any Gift Card is lost, stolen, or destroyed, or if your Amazon.com Balance or any Gift Card is used without your permission. …

We make no warranties, express or implied, with respect to gift cards or your amazon.com balance, including without limitation, any express or implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. In the event a gift card is non-functional, your sole remedy, and our sole liability, will be the replacement of that gift card.

In other words, Amazon makes no promise to begin with that your gift card balance will ever be available, and if you acquire a gift card, you do so at your own risk. This seems to particularly be the case with owners of high-value gift cards ($100 or more).

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Amazon is not the only company that has not been helpful to owners of gift cards with missing balances. Holders of Target gift cards have faced the same issue.

We don’t understand why these companies won’t stand behind their gift cards. All we can do is warn our readers not to use gift cards as electronic piggy banks. One day your money may be there; the next it will be gone — forever. And there’s nothing we can do to get it back for you.

Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Elliott.org. Read more of Jennifer's articles here.

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