CVS Sells Customer Expired Prepaid Debit Card, Shrugs

Last year, Mike bought a Vanilla Visa prepaid debit card at CVS as a gift for a friend, who promptly forgot that the card existed until about a year later. The card doesn’t work, but not because it’s been dormant for the last year and had its balance eaten up in fees. No, the problem is that this card expired in July 2010, before it was even purchased. CVS never should have sold him this card. Now neither CVS nor Vanilla Visa will take responsibility for the problem, and are even accusing Mike of being a scammer.

I bought a Vanilla Visa $100 gift card at the tail end of 2010 for a friend’s birthday. Gave it to them, and they promptly forgot about it (read: lost it in their house).

Fast forward a year, they found the cart, went to use it, and it was rejected. As it turns out, the card had an expiration date of July 2010, which means it was already expired when I bought it.

I called up Vanilla Visa for a replacement, but they claim that because the card was expired at the time of purchase, it was never activated properly, they can’t replace it, and I have to take it up with CVS.

Calls to CVS have been met with hostility. They tell me that it’s Vanilla Visa’s problem, they can’t do anything about it, I should have called over a year ago after I bought the card, there’s no way the clerk could have made a mistake in ringing it up, etc. One woman even suggested that I found the card and am now trying to scam CVS out of $100. They have thus far refused to look up the purchase history for the card, despite me providing them the date of the card purchase & the store from which it was purchased.

Capital One is telling me it’s too late to do a chargeback, so there’s nothing they can do for me.

So, Consumerist, what options do I have here? I paid $100 (plus the $5.95 activation fee) for this gift card, and my friend can’t use it, nor can I get it replaced. Please help!

Well, a chargeback is out, and filing in small claims court is problematic if you have no evidence of the original purchase. A quick search online shows that Mike is not the only person who has had a problem with Vanilla Visa cards purchased from CVS and other drugstores. Maybe a well-written executive e-mail carpet bomb citing these other customers’ stories might make someone at CVS take notice that something could be wrong

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