Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sticking it to The Man . . .

. . . if The Man is American Express.

I got one of these

(except mine was only for $25) for Christmas from some parents at the school where I work. I used it a few times for a few small things. Then, I went to Mervyn's and bought a sweatshirt @ $30 and a t-shirt @ $9. I gave the cashier the gift card thinking I'd have a balance to pay off after using it up, but she just handed me my receipt and my bag. I thought, "Hmm, maybe I used a different gift card to buy those other things, but still my purchase was over $25 . . ." I didn't think too much about it. Then, a few days ago I went to use the gift card again and it was declined. I decided to go online and check the balance: $-11.37. HA! I stuck it to The Man, er, American Express . . .

I wonder if this was just a fluke, or a true exploitation of the system.I think I might start trying to purchase everything this way, get a prepaid gift card, then use it for over the amount I purchased it for.

UPDATE: I just looked a little bit further into this matter and found out:

"Can my Card have a negative balance?
Attempts to make purchases in an amount greater than your available funds will almost always be declined at the point of sale. Occasionally, however, a merchant may not pre-authorize the sale and this may result in a negative balance.
By using a prepaid Card, you agree to be responsible for any negative balances that may occur. To repay a negative balance, you may use a certified check, money order, or an American Express Card. Unfortunately, we cannot accept other types of credit cards to repay negative balances.

To pay with an American Express Card, please call the toll-free number on the back of your Card. All other types of payments shall be made payable to:

Attn: Prepaid Card Collections, Mail Code 02-04-07
4315 S 2700 W
Salt Lake City, UT 84184-0407"

I guess this means I should be mailing my payment to American Express right now, but I'm not, and I'm never gonna. I wonder how much money they loose because of people like me. I wonder if by posting this on the Internet, they are gonna come after me for the $11.37 I (supposedly) owe them. I wonder . . .


Anonymous said...

I found your post by googling as I had the same experience today. I used my card at Star Bucks and it went thru just fine and I now have a negative balance.

Merchants are going to end up losing a lot of money to this. =)

Anonymous said...

I had the same thing just happen to me. I only went 57 cents over tho... im wondering if they charge the people who purchased the card... considering your post is about 6 months old... has anything happened with this gift card deal since then?

Amelia G said...


Anonymous said...

...same here. googled the topic after realizing that I am -15 bucks on one of my AmEx gift cards. Wondering how they ever collect from these transactions...

Erica said...

Good post.

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