Vanilla Prepaid gift cards trigger a string of post-holiday complaints

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Some consumers say their money was taken as soon as the card was activated

Gift cards are an increasingly popular holiday gift, but shortly after the holidays, ConsumerAffairs began receiving negative reviews about one particular gift card – the Vanilla Prepaid Visa card.

Some consumers say they have been unable to activate the card. A reviewer from Canada said he was able to activate the card but that he was told Google Play doesn’t accept payments from the company. Others report a variety of technical problems.

“I bought a $100 Visa Card gift card a few weeks before Christmas, and I still can not use it,” Irina, of Wylie, Texas, wrote in a ConsumerAffairs review. “First of all, I was unable to access my card balance or register it. After trying repeatedly to access my card with no result, I called customer service on the back of the card and I was told that my card was deactivated for security reasons.” 

Andrea, of Buffalo, N.Y., had an even more intriguing experience. After buying a $100 gift card for her son, the card had a zero balance. She says she was told that right after the card was activated, the funds were withdrawn and used to register an internet domain. 

No refund

Since the money was withdrawn by someone, Andrea says the company has refused her request for a refund. In an email to ConsumerAffairs Tuesday, Andrea said the issue remains unresolved.

David, a pastor in Minneapolis, tells us he had a similar experience. After purchasing two $500 prepaid cards, David said the money was quickly gone.

“The second it was activated someone purchased $500 on Amazon and the balance is 0,” David wrote in a ConsumerAffairs review. “The 2nd one had also $500 and when it got activated someone stole $490.”

David, at least, was lucky in one respect. He purchased the cards at a Speedway store and when he told the manager about it, the manager refunded $990.

Nearly all the consumers complaining recently about problems with their cards said they contacted Vanilla’s customer service but found it unresponsive. Some were told that refunds take up to 90 days to process.

The problem appears to be affecting consumers across the country, not in one geographic region. KPRC-TV in Houston reports that dozens of viewers have complained about issues with the cards and about what they perceive as a lack of response from the credit card issuer. 

Vanilla Prepaid Visa appears to be owned by three banks – TBBK Card Services, Inc., The Bancorp, and MetaBank, N.A., along with Incomm Payments. ConsumerAffairs reached out to The Bancorp for information about the issues consumers are facing, but so far we have not received a response.

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