Last year I was outraged that Vanilla Visa charged an activation fee + monthly fee to use the card. The card was sitting on my shelf for a while, however when I attempted to use it, they happily informed me that there are no funds there (in other words they simply took everything my friend gave me a gift).
This year I had another friend giving us a Vanilla Visa as a gift for my child's birthday. I was ready for a new InComm $4.95 activation charge, but was not ready to what happened after that.
We made a purchase of lego toys from toywiz.com. Store did not even had an items in stock (as I learned later), but they happily charged the credit card. I attempted to contact them to no availability and decided to file a dispute claim with a card. I own multiple cards (Citi, Chase, Discover, Amex) and I am quite familiar with the procedure, because I did have disputes in the past.
I was glad that initially Incomm (company that owns Vanilla Visa) was able to start the process and asked me multiple questions that I answered via email. I provided them many documents that were requested. Couple of weeks passed and nothing happened, I began wondering and even called them, but answer was pretty cold: "please wait for an official letter in the mail".
Finally I received following (see complete letter below):
"At this time, no separate letter describing the dispute was received. This letter should include dates and times that you attempted to contact the merchant and copies of their responses. Until these items are received, your dispute is denied and no longer under review. With denial of this dispute, we consider this matter closed."
I was a bit shocked, I was never informed that I had to provide that letter and now the language they use in the letter clearly states that "the matter is closed". I will try to contact vendor once again, but I doubt I will get money back from merchant or from the card. It sounds like their entire dispute resolution team and customer service is made to cover up their shady operations.
Please DO NOT buy Vanilla Visa as a gift to your friends or family, simply give them cash or check or American Express Checks that can be deposited in any bank. Every time you give someone a Vanilla Visa card, $4.95 may be charged for activation and some monthly fee may follow. The card does not provide any security and customer service is virtually non existent.
Below is a letter that I received:
July XX, 2011
Re: Transaction Dispute Forms
Jira Ticket #: xxxxxx
This letter is to inform you that we have completed our investigation regarding the account number referenced above. After reviewing the information that was submitted, we have determined that all required documentation has not been received.
The Transaction Dispute Checklist clearly outlines the items that must be provided in order to process your dispute. The Transaction Dispute Checklist also states that failure to provide the necessary information will prevent the processing of your claim.
At this time, no separate letter describing the dispute was received. This letter should include dates and times that you attempted to contact the merchant and copies of their responses. Until these items are received, your dispute is denied and no longer under review. With denial of this dispute, we consider this matter closed.
Although we are unable to assist you with this matter, we appreciate the opportunity to explain our position. If we may be of further service, please call our Toll Free telephone number 800-571-1377.
InComm Dispute Department
Monetary Loss: $45.