Visa / Vanilla gift card ripoff
I received gift cards for my birthday on 5/8/08, but did not attempt to use them until 3/7/09 (10 months later). When first scanned by the cashier, it said "not valid" so she called and was told the $50 Gift Card was only worth $37.50, so I had to pay the additional $12.50 to make up the difference for my purchase, and that a monthly service charge was being applied against the card for each month it went unused -- and this fee WAS NOT DISCLOSED. There's very intricate packaging around the card and hidden inside the packaging is a "Visa Gift Card Cardholder Agreement in print too small for me to read and contained 27 paragraphs from "Definitions" to "Waiver of Jury Trial". I'm sure the thoughtful person who gave me this gift card had no idea there were service charges involved other than the $4.95 she paid when she purchased the gift card for me. So that $50 Gift Card had a $4.95 upfront charge and an additional $12.50 in service charges, for a total of $17.45 in charges, equal to 35% of the face value of the card.
The lesson is: DO NOT BUY VISA GIFT CARDS! Send your family and friends a personal check, cash or a gift instead. It's just NOT worth the cost and the hassle of trying to use it!
Financial service companies like Visa must be regulated by the federal government to halt such blatent corruption
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