What happened to Dan McDonald’s Amazon gift cards? Only Amazon knows — and it’s not talking.
Actually, no one is talking. This is the first of two fascinating cases with no apparent resolution. But that won’t stop us from writing about them. We love a good mystery.
McDonald says he bought $375 worth Amazon gift cards recently.
“We bought the gift cards because we did not want to use our bank debit card,” he explains. “We came home and put them on an Amazon account in order to use them.”
Then he tried to use them.
“We were prompted that we needed a payment method to complete the transaction, even though we had the gift cards on the account. A customer service representative also told me we had to link a payment method to the account in order to use the gift card funds. He suggested that since we do not have a debit card or credit card to use that we go buy a prepaid Visa card,” he says.
McDonald obediently bought a prepaid Visa card and added the details to his account. Then he attempted to use the gift card funds that he’d added to his account.
And that’s when it happened.
“As soon as I attempted to make a purchase, my account was locked,” he says.
McDonald called Amazon customer service again, and they forwarded him to an account specialist.
“A couple hours later, I got an email stating that the billing address was incorrect on the card which is a prepaid card and has no billing address. They asked me to reply with the address to the card,” he says.
He replied and explained it was a prepaid card and then called customer service again and explained that it was a prepaid card. Again, Amazon transferred him to an account specialist.
“I got the same email again and again with no answer — just wanting a billing address for the card, which there isn’t,” he says.
Finally, Amazon emailed him to say his account had been canceled.
But wait! What happened to the $375 in gift cards already in the account?
“It’s gone,” he says. “I saved for three months to be able to buy these gift cards and now Amazon basically is keeping my money with no refund and not allowing me to spend the gift card balance and just says my account is canceled.
Whenever McDonald tries to address this with Amazon, it sends him to the same account specialist, who sends the same emails. Around and around we go.
Our advocacy team tried to contact Amazon on his behalf. The company didn’t respond. We followed up with McDonald to see what happened. He didn’t respond.
So has he given up on his $375? I doubt it. Far likelier is the following scenario: Amazon received our email, contacted him directly and refunded the money for the gift cards. It also asked him to sign a nondisclosure form, hoping that if he no longer communicated with us, it would kill the story.
Sorry to disappoint you, Amazon.
Then again, maybe it’s nothing so sinister. Perhaps McDonald just wrote off the cards and Amazon simply ignored us. It wouldn’t be the first time.
Like I said, it’s a mystery. But there are a few takeaways for us. I’m not a fan of gift cards, but after hearing from McDonald, I’m ready to swear them off forever. Come on. Why not just give a prepaid Visa, which can be used anywhere? I have a few more observations about what all this means. I’ll save that for a post later today.