A D.C. resident says she lost the value of $2,000 in Amazon gift cards when she used them for an order that ended up being canceled by the seller.
After months of trying to get her credit back, she turned to NBC4 Responds for help.
Debra Kilpatrick had tried to use the cards toward the purchase of a costly mobility aid for her sister, who's been dealing with difficult medical issues.
About a year ago, Kilpatrick's sister, Valerie, was rushed to a hospital with dangerously low blood pressure — so low that she barely had a pulse. Fortunately, doctors were able to save her life, but Valerie spent the next four months hospitalized.
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But her condition caused a domino effect of medical complications, including blood clots in her legs.
"Coming home was great, but it was a little bit bittersweet because now we have to figure out — she's bedridden; she can't walk," Kilpatrick said.
The family was told they needed to purchase a patient lift aid that would help Valerie lift herself up from bed and eventually help her start walking again.
"It was over close to $3,500 total to buy it through Amazon," Kilpatrick said.
Money was tight, so Kilpatrick applied for an Amazon credit card, but she was approved for a credit limit of only $2,000. She called Amazon customer service and asked if she could cover the remainder by using another credit card.
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However, Kilpatrick says, she was told she couldn’t do that, and an Amazon rep suggested she purchase $2,000 in Amazon gift cards instead. She did, and then applied it to the balance.
But then Kilpatrick received a notification saying her order was canceled: "It came back saying that it was out of inventory."
Amazon immediately refunded the amount she paid for the lift on the credit card — but getting back the $2,000 she'd used from the gift cards wasn’t so easy.
Amazon said it would refund the money, but four months later, it still hadn't come.
"So it just began a long, monthly process of constant emails and calls and promises from Amazon that the $2,000 would go back," Kilpatrick said. She said the company told her, "'We can reverse it. We will cancel it'."
"Never happened," she said.
Kilpatrick decided it was time to turn to NBC Responds for help.
"Enough is enough. Somebody's got to — that's bigger than you — has to fight this," she said.
So the NBC4 Responds team got to work. An Amazon spokesperson told us the holdup was that Kilpatrick's bank mishandled the chargeback.
They added: "Amazon works hard to provide customers with a great experience and it's our commitment to go above and beyond to make things right for customers. The customer has been issued a refund and we apologize for any inconvenience caused."
Kilpatrick got her money back.
"Thank you, NBC, for you restored hope for us," she said.
As for her sister, Kilpatrick says Valerie is taking it one day at a time. She hopes to get Valerie into a rehab facility once the family gathers the funds.
How to Protect Yourself When Using High-Value Gift Cards:
If you're using a gift card to make a purchase, especially an expensive one, make sure you read up on the retailer's refund policies — they can be very different.
Here are some more tips to try to protect yourself — and your money:
- Contact the seller or company and ask about their inventory before placing an order.
- Find out how the retailer would make you whole if something happens with our order, either by refunding the gift card or granting you store credit.
- Make sure the website is not a spoof. To verify the site's authenticity, look for the padlock icon in the address bar — because, unlike a credit card, gift cards don’t offer any protections. Once the money is gone, there’s little chance of getting it back.