Amazon Stored gift card balance withheld and order canceled

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Aug 20, 2019
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#1
GIFT CARD BALANCE TAKEN AWAY- NO REASON GIVEN

I used my collected gift card balance of about 15000$ ( gifted to me and my family by others over last 15 years in hope of using it someday for something nice) to buy an item for about 1200$ on Amazon's web site.

Order was placed and I received confirmation of order. Within 5 minutes, my order was canceled for apparently either violating Gift card policies or it was simply an error. Amazon's email did not say what policy was violated but warned my funds will be withheld and not reimbursed with no reason provided. I have researched a lot but can't find any policies that I may have violated.

To the argument that some have had about gift cards' validity, I think validity should be checked at the time of applying the cards to Amazon balance and not at the time of spending the money. It is similar to a bank accepting your money, keeping the balance and when you go to withdraw it subsequently , they tell you oh! the money you deposited many years ago was fake. At the time of my applying the gift cards to the balance over many years, Amazon never had any issues regarding the validity of the cards.

My gift card balance is now lowered by about 1200 dollars. I called Amazon within 20 mins at the number provided in email and rep said, it was an error and order was canceled by seller since they did not have the item ( web site still says they have 3 in stock) or the amount was too large or their computer may have mistakenly considered it fraudelent due to the amount. She advised me not to place any other order till everything is sorted out and my balance is put back on my gift card balance. She could not do anything as it was beyond her power and had to escalate to a different department where no phone calls are taken and they only communicate via email. Someone was going to fix it in a few hours but maximum of 48 hours. She would give me a courtesy call to confirm everything went ok. 14 days later, the amount has still not has appeared on my gift card balance and funds are still "withheld" . She never called back. No one has told me what the policy violation was but multiple automated appearing emails have been exchanged where Amazon just offers apology and no reason as to why this happened, whether it will happen again or why the funds are being withheld.

I have held the amount for over 10 years in my gift card balance (interest free loan to Amazon!). Totally unfair and aggravating and not worthy of my over 12 hours spent in emails, complaints, phone calls and inconvenience. Just can't think of any other business operating in USA like this. Many subsequent phone calls have been made by me and I am told someone will resolve it but Amazon sends the same automatic email saying that my funds will not be reimbursed. They have repeatedly not told me a reason as to why they are keeping my funds.

They have stopped responding to emails now and customer service on phone says they understand and are sympathetic but it is beyond what they can do. .

They have also not responded to Better Business Bureau complaint. I have written to Federal Trade Commission as well yesterday. If it has happened to others, I think they should write to FTC as well. FTC will not address complaints individually but if a large number of complaints are noted, they will take action.

I see there may be no solution and I may have lost my dollars but I am voicing it on a forum so others can be warned and consider not adding any funds to their gift card balance on Amazon.
 

Neil Maley

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Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#2
I’m imagining they are wondering how you were given $15,000 in gift cards as gifts.

The BBB can’t really force any business to make a consumer whole. They take your complaint and send it to the vendor for an answer. If the company answers, they consider the case resolved regardless of what the company says back.

Unfortunately you will have to self advocate because Amazon doesn’t answer to us. We would be very interested in hearing how your complaints to the FTC work so we might have something to add to future consumers who have the same problem.

https://forum.elliott.org/threads/sticky-amazon-gift-card-issues-for-self-advocacy-only.10317/
 
Apr 19, 2017
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#3
"I’m imagining they are wondering how you were given $15,000 in gift cards as gifts."

This is a valid point, but LW's point is even more valid: why can't Amazon validate a gift card at the time it is applied to the account? Why wait until the purchaser makes a transaction to chortle "Ha ha, you lose!" and then offer no explanation or recourse?
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#5
"I’m imagining they are wondering how you were given $15,000 in gift cards as gifts."

This is a valid point, but LW's point is even more valid: why can't Amazon validate a gift card at the time it is applied to the account? Why wait until the purchaser makes a transaction to chortle "Ha ha, you lose!" and then offer no explanation or recourse?
Applying it to the account means it is just stored — same as a credit card - a credit card can be valid one day and not the next if account is closed or something similar.

I think it is programmed the same way — the method of payment is validated at time of purchase
 
Likes: VoR61
Apr 19, 2017
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#6
Applying it to the account means it is just stored — same as a credit card - a credit card can be valid one day and not the next if account is closed or something similar.

I think it is programmed the same way — the method of payment is validated at time of purchase
Credit cards are registered with Amazon as a payment option. A gift card should be treated like a check, with a transfer attempt to the user's Amazon account made right away. Let the customer know right away if it's a bad card, not months later when nothing can be done about it.
 
Likes: amerindi
Jun 24, 2019
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#7
Amazon may not know the card is invalid when first registered. Subsequent reports or investigations by Amazon may have revealed something to them.

Or a subsequent event may be a second (or third, etc.) person attempting to use the same gift card, with a similarly compelling story as to how they came into possession of that card. The first person registering it may not be the true owner. \

For example, a thief takes Amazon gift cards from a store rack, acquires both the card number and the pin, and then puts the cards back on the rack. Grandma comes in, buys grandchild a gift card, and sends it to them. In the meantime, the thief has registered the card on his page. As soon as Grandma has paid the store that card is active.
 
Jul 13, 2016
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#8
It may have something to do with perceived money laundering (I am not saying OP is money laundering). All those gift cards may be valid, but Amazon is concerned with the possibility of money laundering, although it would be the longest and slowest money laundering scheme in existence if it takes ten years to launder the funds.
 
Likes: amerindi
Jun 24, 2019
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#9
Gift cards are a means of transferring funds to avoid currency restrictions at borders and elsewhere. All you need is the card number and pin. You do not need the physical card.

Some years ago I worked on a matter where a person bought lots of Amex travelers checks (we are talking 7 figures), burned them but kept the receipts, then flew to a country without an extradition treaty but with tough currency controls (so he could answer truthfully at the border), and then he submitted a claim to Amex for "lost" travelers checks. Amex took its time, but eventually paid the claim.
 
Aug 20, 2019
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#10
That’s a good question and it seems like perhaps they are manually checking these type of transactions. You are right- they should be able to check these at time purchase but we don’t know why Amazon does what they do and until they are perhaps challenged in court.
May be all those have suffered take Amazon to Arbitartion over this. I myself am actively considering it. I just want others not to sufffer like I have. I have read in their policies that you cannot take Amazon to court as when you open an account with them, you agreed not to initiate a court proceeding against them and all settlements will be through arbitration only. Just because they do not have a system to differentiate fraud from real, it is unjust to punish everyone.

I will update the results. Thanks for everyone's thoughts.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
19,308
17,762
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#11
I am interested in seeing how you make out of you have to go to arbitration. There are so many scammers out there that I believe there are so innocent people that are flagged and it shouldn’t be hard for Amazon to clear up those that are not scammers. Good luck with this.
 
Likes: VoR61