Late last year Verizon started replacing its rebate checks with Visa debit cards. You use them as you would debit cards, only without having to tap in a PIN. Long story short — after using one of these cards I’m convinced they’re part of a scam meant to let Verizon and/or Visa skim pennies off the tops of rebates owed to customers because once there’s only chump change left on your card, you can apparently no longer use it.
My new phone netted me a $70 rebate card in the mail a week ago Saturday, so I decided to take it for a day on the town. The card and I had some wild times at Wal-Mart, In-N-Out and Lowe’s (man, do I know how to party). I was irritated that I couldn’t use the card to get gas at Circle K because the card reader demanded I verify my identification by typing in a zip code — it wouldn’t accept my own zip, nor that of the Verizon store where I bought the phone, and denied the transaction — but I blew off the inconvenience because I was confident that I’d eventually use up my $70 on purchases I would have made anyway.
Everything went to plan until I had just 11 cents left on the card. A less awesome person might have tossed it into the garbage at that point, but dammit, those 11 cents were mine and I wanted to use ‘em. But every time I asked cashiers at multiple stores to debit 11 cents off my total purchase by using up the last of the card, the transactions were denied.
I called Verizon customer service and the rep tried to stop himself from laughing as he agreed to credit my account for the 11 cents I’d lost. It was a hollow victory, because although Verizon had made good that damned card still clung to a dime and penny intended for me, and like a clogged piggy bank just would not cough it up.
The fine print on the back of the card gave my conspiracy theory credence. After a year, Visa takes a $3 monthly maintenance fee three months after you last use the card. This means Visa-izon will get their dirty hands all over the 11 cents left on the card come October 2010.
Sure, 11 cents may not sound like much, but you’ve seen those Verizon commercials, right? The network of people following around the bespectacled Can You Hear Me Now Guy is quite the multitude. And if everyone on that network gets screwed out of 11 cents by Verizon rebate cards, you’re talking a Scrooge McDuck money bin in lost rebates.