With the upcoming holidays, no doubt many gifters will be thinking about purchasing gift certificates. This particular article is written specifically to create awareness when purchasing gift certificates from Amazon. Be careful which site you purchase them on because they are not interactive – meaning, if for example you’re American and want to send a gift certificate to a Canadian friend, or from any other country, your US gift certificate will be no good to us. This information is especially important for authors when doing promos and sending readers a gift certificate to purchase a book they’ve won from the author.
How do I know this?
I know this because I’ve run into this problem as a gift certificate receiver in the past and just recently again. But this time I spent over 2 hours on the phone with Amazon trying to get to the bottom of it.
An author friend was recently running a Black Friday promo (which I posted HERE). She offered, buy one of her books, and get 2 free. I purchased one of her books, and she emailed me an Amazon gift certificate. I went to Amazon to load the coupon, and without any options available, just ‘click to redeem’, and my US certificate is now sitting in Amazon.com in my account where it is not of any use to me. Even though I’m Canadian and must purchase books and/or items from .ca, Amazon took the liberty of loading that coupon to .com – no option, no warning, no offer to convert US funds, and no availability for me to even download a kindle book from .com. So the coupon is useless sitting in my account in US funds.
I was fortunate to have a lovely rep answer my call, we’ll call her Amy for the purpose of this post. I initially called to move that money over to .ca account where it should have gone in the first place. Amy couldn’t believe the troubles she’s encountered with Canadian complaints on many fronts besides the certificate problems, and in the two hours on the phone, we became fast friends. She said she was going to try and get to the bottom of things and find out an option to give me the money, or at least have Amazon let me choose the books for the value and load them on to my kindle for me.
After our lengthy talk and her putting me on hold many times in efforts to keep trying different resolution departments, she told me she’d call me back instead of keeping me on the phone. When she did call back, she apologized up and down for taking me through the hoops over money that was mine but not able to use. She told me, she was told that if the certificate was in US funds, it went directly into .com, end of story. She and I were both appalled, and she said she was going to make it her mission to stand up for Canadians who get short-changed in the Amazon system, including bringing up to her superiors, my biggest Amazon peeve, that when I pay for advertising to promote a kindle countdown and advertise it to my readers, Canadians don’t count, we’re not eligible to purchase a countdown deal. Seriously, what era are we living in? I can’t even see my own books on countdown when I’m running that promo, I have to message an American friend to go to my page and see if the book is on sale!
The bottom line here is that anyone purchasing gift cards, especially authors buying them for promos for readers, MAKE SURE YOU BUY THEM FROM THE AMAZON SITE OF THE COUNTRY THAT RECEIVER LIVES IN.
After Amy did all she could to reverse the US download, to no avail, she felt so bad, she sent me a Canadian gift card from herself! Then she stayed on the phone with me to make sure it would download and I was able to use it. This experience was new for her too and she wanted to make sure the process worked because when I loaded the new gift card to my .ca account, we wanted to make sure I was able to have access to the funds. So I proceeded to purchase a book, and when I purchase books I’m always offered the ‘one click to buy’, and I was concerned that it would still charge my credit card and not use the funds in my account. There was no pop-up or info asking if I wanted to use the credit in the account or if it would automatically charge my card. But with a little sniffing around I did the test and it worked.
I downloaded a book, then I clicked on the top bar ‘my account‘ then this screen opens
Then I look under Gift Cards and click on ‘View Gift Card Balance’, sure enough the price of the book I just purchased was deleted off total of the gift card used, showing a remaining balance. I had proof my purchases were coming out of the amount deposited from redeeming the gift card. And so I purchased a second book and repeated the steps to make sure the charge wasn’t going on my card.
Now for future purchases of any gift cards, all you have to do is go to the Amazon site of the country you wish to purchase a gift card for, for example Amazon.ca, and when the page opens, on the top black bar, just under the search bar, you will see headings, and one of them is ‘gift cards’. You can click on that and you’ll be taken to this page:
Now you can choose how you want to purchase your gift card and then forward to someone.
I hope this post helps many of you to not waste your precious dollars buying gift certificates in your own currency to give to others in different countries. Not only does the recipient lose out, but for authors who use these certificates as part of promos on a regular basis, this will save you dumping your money in the garbage, because once the certificate is downloaded, there is no recouping the amount back for the buyer or the receiver. Unfortunately there is nowhere else to find out these surprises until they occur. When in doubt before purchasing, call Amazon customer service to find out the rules because often times they aren’t presented to us without doing a major search and still sometimes finding grey areas.
Have any of you had this situation where you received an Amazon gift card you could never use?