A couple of years ago, my sister in law gave me a $100 Visa Gift Card as a present. She purchased the card at Fred Meyers. The nice thing (in theory) about Visa gift cards is that you can use them anywhere and are not stuck using them at just one store.
While cleaning my desk tonight, I found the Visa Gift Card, issued by Green Dot Online. I was pretty sure there was a few dollars left on the card. I’d hate to leave money on the table so I called Green Dot Online to check and see if there was a remaining balance. After all, even $1 is a nice chunk downpayment on a warm and luxurious latte.
The automated attendant told me it was $.75 to check my balance. I hung up. But, then got to thinking, “Nah, that has to be a mistake. Who charges to let you access their automated phone system?”
So, I called back. Yep. They do charge $.75 to access your remaining balance. Okaaaaay … I went ahead and pressed 1 to hear my balance. Shocker of shocker when I found out my gift card was overdrawn by $9.70! What? How is that possible? It’s a gift card. How could I have overdrawn a gift card? And, I’m pretty sure I didn’t spend more than $84 on it. My careful notes on the front of the card in sharpie pen said I hadn’t.
I pressed “0” to speak to an attendant. It turns out that this “Gift Card” charges $4.95 PER MONTH as a maintenance fee on my account and has been charging that for about 7 months now.
7 months (or so) ago, I had $16.05 left on the card. Now, I apparently owe them $9.70 just for the privilege of being given this gift card. To add insult to injury, my sister in law had to “activate” the gift card for $9.95 to start with. So, her $100 gift to me actually got me $84 in product but cost an additional $35.70 ($25.75 from me in bogus “servicing fees” plus $9.95 from her to “activate” the card). So, the net-net of this $100 gift card ended up being $64.30
What a racket. And, sadly, it’s a racket that preys on people that don’t have good credit or bank balances (since it pretends to be a credit or debit card). In this case, the gift was still very appreciated and the original sentiment is still valid but what a disappointing rip-off. I wonder if Fred Meyer’s knows how unethical Green Dot Online gift card is? I think I’ll tell them. Their “Customer Feedback Page” is right here.