Buyer beware: Gift cards leaving customers short-changed

EDMONTON – Complaints are popping up about a popular Christmas present: Vanilla MasterCard gift cards.

Cindy Sanche from Ryley, Alberta said she received a $100 gift card as a present from her sister.

“I went to a store in Sherwood Park and they kept telling me it was declined,” she said. “They tried two or three times and I thought, ‘that’s impossible, I’ve still got the cardboard and everything for this card.'”

Complaints are popping up about Vanilla MasterCard gift cards. Global News

Complaints about Vanilla gift cards are abundant online. One consumer complaint website has 16 bad reviews.

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Sanche said her card and the packaging it arrived in looked legitimate and undamaged. When she called Vanilla MasterCard to complain, they said most of the balance had already been spent in the United States.

“She was able to tell me there were charges coming out of Pennsylvania, Georgia and Connecticut and at that point I thought, ‘wow, something is really off,'” Sanche said.

Sanche said the representative she spoke with told her it could take months to resolve the issue, if her claim is accepted.

“Now I have to plead a case to someone who, well, in their eyes, it could be me. So I feel I have to defend myself for something I have no part in,” she said. “It’s just unsettling.”

Complaints are popping up about Vanilla MasterCard gift cards. Global News

Other consumers have complained that though the packaging was intact, the card inside had been tampered with. When it was used to make a purchase,  it was declined because the machine said it couldn’t be read.

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When Global News contacted Vanilla MasterCard, a receptionist said it is company policy not to speak to media wanting to record the conversation.

Retailers Global News spoke with said they aren’t responsible for how or whether a gift card works once it has been activated.

Sanche said she’ll avoid gift cards in the future.





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