Balance Hold....Again

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Oct 14, 2019
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#1
So I'll start with my background. 49 yr old U.S. Born Citizen living in Florida my whole life using my Amazon account established back in 1999. Amazon Prime member for the last 10+ years. I typically make $2,000-3,000 in physical good purchases each and every year. Nothing shipped overseas or to other addresses aside from my home address. Payment methods are typically Amazon Prime Store card, Amazon Visa Card, Discover Card and sometimes gift card balance. All registered in my name and my home address.

I have redeemed quite a few gift cards in the last 4-5 months. In each case I always saved an image of the card and the cash receipt. There have been 4 times previously where Amazon has changed the status to Pending - Balance Hold. The Amazon Gift card amounts were $40, $30, $500, and $130 in that order. The first time this happened I called Amazon and in the Rep directed me to send my card image and cash receipt image to the Gift Card Escalations dept via email, which I did. In all 4 cases the Gift Card balance was restored anywhere from 1-3 days later. This last Saturday I redeemed only one gift card in the amount of $200 for which again I have the physical card and cash image. Within 30 mins of redemption Amazon put the amount into a "Pending - Balance Hold" status so I emailed them the images as evidence per usual. This time I received a different response which I will post below.

What I really don't understand is how can the card not be valid if I successfully redeemed it? I guess Amazon is trying to tell me that the Claim Code was already redeemed by another Amazon account aside from mine but why then was I able to redeem it? Places like Publix, Home Depot, and 7-Eleven's are all examples of authorized third parties retailers of Amazon gift cards. This particular Gift Card was purchased at 7-Eleven so that should be an authorized third party seller per their own ToS? Their email seems to indicate that since it wasn't purchased directly from Amazon.com that it can't be refunded. Furthermore, I really don't understand Amazon's logic in their email below. Their suggestion that I contact a bank makes no sense being that this is a cash purchase. This just seems like a blatant cash grab from Amazon. The email below is obviously a poorly written cookie cutter template used in cases where for whatever reason they decide not to restore a gift card that was snatched.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Hello,

I'm following up on your recent contact to our Customer Service department.

I've just reviewed the details of the gift card you specified and see that, unfortunately, the claim code you have received is not available for use as it has been redeemed by someone.

I do understand your concern that the gift card has not been redeemed by you however, for security purposes I am unable to provide you with any further information.

Please understand that we are unable to resend the gift card or refund the order as it has been purchased directly for the store and not from Amazon.com.

If I relate to myself, I can completely understand how frustrating and annoying the situation can be when something like this happens but I hope you understand my limitations.

I really wish I was able to refund you for the above gift card right away by taking the required action but please understand, when you purchase gift card from a store, your order is neither sold nor fulfilled by Amazon.com. Therefore we at Amazon Customer Service don't have access to the tools that are required to take any actions on these gift card orders.

However, I found a way to take care of this for you, to receive a refund, I request you to please contact the bank that issued the debit/credit card used to check what option the may have.

As mentioned in our gift card fine print, the risk of loss and title for gift cards pass to the purchaser upon our electronic transmission to the recipient or delivery to the carrier, whichever is applicable.

The terms and conditions for Amazon.com Gift Cards are posted on the Amazon.com website here:

http://www.amazon.com/gc-legal

Once again I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused to you in this regard.I appreciate your patience and understanding.

If there is still something that I missed to mention or I could still do to assist you with this issue, please let me know by using the below link and we will be happy to assist you with your concern.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/contact-us

Thank you for your understanding and co-operation in this matter.

We'd appreciate your feedback. Please use the buttons below to vote about your experience today.

Best regards,
Abhishek
Amazon.com
 

Neil Maley

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#2
Oct 14, 2019
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Neil, as I said this particular card was purchased at 7-Eleven. In fact it was purchased on 10-13 and redeemed by me on the same day.

I have one very simple question. If I successfully redeemed the card on Amazon's website, how can Amazon later tell me it was already redeemed? Doesn't a gift card claim code become instantly invalid once it is redeemed?
 
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Neil Maley

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#5
Neil, as I said this particular card was purchased at 7-Eleven. In fact it was purchased on 10-13 and redeemed by me on the same day.

I have one very simple question. If I successfully redeemed the card on Amazon's website, how can Amazon later tell me it was already redeemed? Doesn't a gift card claim code become instantly invalid once it is redeemed?
Because it can take a day for the charge to actually be approved. We booked tickets for a client Friday night for a flight, had a reservation number issued but when the tidies were issued- the debit card was declined by the bank because it was over their limit. We were contacted today.

When you activated the card, did you use it right away? Thieves access the authorization code and wait until you redeem them and turn grab them money using the codes. Please read the two articles linked here to see exactly how this happens.

Things happen. You should go back to the 7-11 and tell them what happened.
 
Likes: VoR61
Oct 14, 2019
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Neil, I'm not sure your Airline example it applicable. Gift cards are more akin to Credit Cards in the sense that transactions are logged and recorded in real time. I'm not "reserving" or "booking" a gift card at the time of purchase, I'm activating it in real time which makes whatever balance is loaded available at that time. It shouldn't take a until the next day for some database to catch-up.

I had a $200 Amazon card. When I plugged in the claim code into the Amazon website it checked a databased somewhere that told it that $200 had been be loaded and activated. If the card had already been redeemed then that same database should already know that and instantly reject my claim code. In my case the claim code was accepted. There is absolutely no reason for the card balance to later be reversed or retracted short of reported foul play or fraud.

The technology is there and has been there for many years to monitor balances and transactions in near-real-time. I reject Amazon's premise that the gift card was already redeemed. That's the part I am taking issue with. In fact, as I stated originally this has occurred with Amazon 4 times in past months. Each time they restored the card balances only after I sent them receipts. If those other cards were truly already redeemed then why would Amazon restore the card balances?

I have read thru many of these posts before I created my post because I wanted to get an idea of how Amazon handles gift card issues. I also read some material on another site referenced in one of the post on this board. Someone named Richard Thripp has accumulated several stories of Amazon's highly questionable gift card practices.

It appears to me that Amazon has an ongoing practice here of intermittently/randomly kicking back gift cards onto legitimate Amazon account holders. I've tolerated it previously because it got resolved each time until now. That's why I felt compelled to share my post. I'm still in the process of escalating with Amazon so it still could be resolved but I find Amazon's initial email to be completely unacceptable and not credible.
 
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Carrie Livingston

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#7
It is a known fraud about physical gift cards. Scammers take pictures of the cards and get the PIN and then monitor the account for activity. Once the card is funded, they take the balance and use it for other purposes.

This is not specific to Amazon and applies to pretty much any physical gift card you purchase in a store. It might not apply to gift cards purchased directly from the retailer.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#8
Likes: VoR61
Sep 19, 2015
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#9
Neil, I'm not sure your Airline example it applicable. Gift cards are more akin to Credit Cards in the sense that transactions are logged and recorded in real time. I'm not "reserving" or "booking" a gift card at the time of purchase, I'm activating it in real time which makes whatever balance is loaded available at that time. It shouldn't take a until the next day for some database to catch-up.

I had a $200 Amazon card. When I plugged in the claim code into the Amazon website it checked a databased somewhere that told it that $200 had been be loaded and activated. If the card had already been redeemed then that same database should already know that and instantly reject my claim code. In my case the claim code was accepted. There is absolutely no reason for the card balance to later be reversed or retracted short of reported foul play or fraud.

The technology is there and has been there for many years to monitor balances and transactions in near-real-time. I reject Amazon's premise that the gift card was already redeemed. That's the part I am taking issue with. In fact, as I stated originally this has occurred with Amazon 4 times in past months. Each time they restored the card balances only after I sent them receipts. If those other cards were truly already redeemed then why would Amazon restore the card balances?

I have read thru many of these posts before I created my post because I wanted to get an idea of how Amazon handles gift card issues. I also read some material on another site referenced in one of the post on this board. Someone named Richard Thripp has accumulated several stories of Amazon's highly questionable gift card practices.

It appears to me that Amazon has an ongoing practice here of intermittently/randomly kicking back gift cards onto legitimate Amazon account holders. I've tolerated it previously because it got resolved each time until now. That's why I felt compelled to share my post. I'm still in the process of escalating with Amazon so it still could be resolved but I find Amazon's initial email to be completely unacceptable and not credible.
The Amazon authorization is not that fast. I submitted an order on July 31 and received the confirmation. I received a notification on August 1 that the credit card was declined and I needed to submit a different form of payment -- why? The charge is actually only charged when an item is ready for shipping -- on August 1st. I had waited to the last minute to activate the new credit card -- the previous one expired on July 31st. The item that was shipped on the 31st of July (order made at 2 pm) was approved.

May I ask why do you take the risk of buying amazon gift cards in cash from 7-11 and such (where cards are often in the open and can be tampered with)? There is a massive amount of fraud with draining gift cards.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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#10
"Gift cards are more akin to Credit Cards ". This is not correct. Gift cards are akin to debit cards, which have a whole different set of rules compared to credit cards.
If the gift card you purchased from an insecure location has been tampered with and the balance used, you have little recourse compared to credit card fraud protection.
Since you have listed "Amazon Prime Store card, Amazon Visa Card, Discover Card " as payment methods it remains unclear why you risk using (and losing) gift cards.
 
Oct 14, 2019
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Thanks for all the suggestions but no one is taking on my question directly.

HOW CAN A AMAZON CLAIM CODE THAT HAS BEEN REDEEMED AND APPLIED TO SOMEONES GIFT CARD BLANCE ALSO BE REDEEMED A SECOND TIME?

Either Amazon takes their sweet time (up to a day according to some theories on this board) to actually flag a gift card as already redeemed "OR" Amazon is feeding me a line of BS.

As a side note, I have apps for several fast food places such as McDonalds, Moe's, Jersey Mikes, Firehouse subs, Panera. I earn points with purchases and turn them into rewards for more free meals. My wife and I share these apps to maximize our rewards. On more than one occasion I have mistakenly tried to use the same claim code soon after my wife has already use it for herself and it never works. These places invalid a claim code reward once it is used.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#13
Thanks for all the suggestions but no one is taking on my question directly.

HOW CAN A AMAZON CLAIM CODE THAT HAS BEEN REDEEMED AND APPLIED TO SOMEONES GIFT CARD BLANCE ALSO BE REDEEMED A SECOND TIME?

Either Amazon takes their sweet time (up to a day according to some theories on this board) to actually flag a gift card as already redeemed "OR" Amazon is feeding me a line of BS.

As a side note, I have apps for several fast food places such as McDonalds, Moe's, Jersey Mikes, Firehouse subs, Panera. I earn points with purchases and turn them into rewards for more free meals. My wife and I share these apps to maximize our rewards. On more than one occasion I have mistakenly tried to use the same claim code soon after my wife has already use it for herself and it never works. These places invalid a claim code reward once it is used.
Because Amazon does not actually try the charge until the item is going to be shipped.

I ordered two items from Amazon on July 31 at 2:20 pm. One item charged that day and was shipped that day and arrived the 1st. The second item attempted to bill after midnight, ie on the 1st -- my payment was declined as the card expired in July.

One can make changes to Amazon orders until it hits "the shipping process". The shipping process is when the card is actually charged.

If someone uses the same gift card codes that you do and their item ships first your gift card payment will be rejected.

The fast food code is different -- you are getting the fast food right there and then and the code is invalidated at the point.

Why does Amazon do this? Well according to the FTC

Many credit card issuers have policies against sellers charging a credit card account before shipment. If you think a seller charged your account too soon, report it to the credit card issuer. Otherwise, the issuer has no way to know the seller isn’t following its policies.

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0221-billed-merchandise-you-never-received

Amazon likely only bills when shipped because of all the various credit cards they accept.
 
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jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#14
It is a known fraud about physical gift cards. Scammers take pictures of the cards and get the PIN and then monitor the account for activity. Once the card is funded, they take the balance and use it for other purposes.

This is not specific to Amazon and applies to pretty much any physical gift card you purchase in a store. It might not apply to gift cards purchased directly from the retailer.
Carrie is so right ... Amazon is beset with fraudulent activities, many involving gift cards. You were already aware of a potential problem with the previous gift cards. This was your warning. Buying gift cards for yourself makes no sense. I hope that once you get this straightened out, you will stop with the gift cards forever. It's just silly to continue to think that Amazon will treat your gift cards any better than they treat the people who are trying to scam them. I wish we could be more helpful, but Amazon is a company run by computers ... your situation is one of the results of running a company on computers.
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
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#15
After reading this forum I will Never purchase another gift card. The majority of them seem to be compromised Immediately after being activated. There is no recourse and the thieves get alway scot free because the Card issuers (Amazon, Target, etc) won’t do anything to catch the crooks and many times they actually have the crooks names and addresses.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#16
After reading this forum I will Never purchase another gift card. The majority of them seem to be compromised Immediately after being activated. There is no recourse and the thieves get alway scot free because the Card issuers (Amazon, Target, etc) won’t do anything to catch the crooks and many times they actually have the crooks names and addresses.
I absolutely agree. As technology rolls forward, there will be ever-increasing opportunities for the scammers. Unless people are independently wealthy, they need to stop with the "oooo, it's new and it's different and I want to do it" and THINK about reality. You're dealing with a computer, a computer has no sense of right and wrong. It's your money and it can disappear in an instant. Is it really worth saving 5% on a Target gift card if your money disappears faster than you can spend it at Target?
 
Feb 3, 2019
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#17
The majority of them seem to be compromised Immediately after being activated.
The people who report issues here are undoubtedly a tiny percentage of those who purchase gift cards for any business. You are of course well within your rights to decline to buy or use them yourself, but there's no reason to think the majority of cards are compromised.
 
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jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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#18
The people who report issues here are undoubtedly a tiny percentage of those who purchase gift cards for any business. You are of course well within your rights to decline to buy or use them yourself, but there's no reason to think the majority of cards are compromised.
Well, of course you're right, RL. But we are here to give opinions and advice as well as help people solve problems. I know all kinds of people who buy discounted gift cards "properly" who have never had an issue. JVille and I just don't want to be part of that group.
 
May 15, 2016
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#18
I have read many of these gift card stories on this forum, and I just don't get the premise. Why do these OP's buy gift cards for themselves to use on Amazon, instead of just buying the "normal" way? In this case the OP has an Amazon credit card, for which he gets a 5% rebate on everything he buys on Amazon website. What am I missing - what kind of "edge" are they seeking by going to the convoluted process of buying these cards?
 

Neil Maley

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#19
I have read many of these gift card stories on this forum, and I just don't get the premise. Why do these OP's buy gift cards for themselves to use on Amazon, instead of just buying the "normal" way? In this case the OP has an Amazon credit card, for which he gets a 5% rebate on everything he buys on Amazon website. What am I missing - what kind of "edge" are they seeking by going to the convoluted process of buying these cards?
Many of us ask the same question.
 
Mar 14, 2018
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#20
I have read many of these gift card stories on this forum, and I just don't get the premise. Why do these OP's buy gift cards for themselves to use on Amazon, instead of just buying the "normal" way? In this case the OP has an Amazon credit card, for which he gets a 5% rebate on everything he buys on Amazon website. What am I missing - what kind of "edge" are they seeking by going to the convoluted process of buying these cards?

Some people use Amazon gift cards to launder money and evade currency controls. And some otherwise innocent people may buy gift cards from them.

But there are many legitimate reasons eg:
1) People who receive gifts​
2) Roughly 7% of people in the US have no bank account so this is the only way to purchase from Amazon. This number is much higher overseas.​
3) People working in the US may send funds to their overseas relatives this way to avoid high transfer fees.​
4) People may buy gift cards to meet credit card spending thresholds​
Not everyone who has Amazon gift card issues is a criminal.
 
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