I had just a really odd day yesterday. Very busy but I wanted to take 20 minutes out of my day to see to some of my mileage collecting activity. I am fortunate to live very close to several institutions which are part of my mileage accumulation strategy, so my plan was thus: go to Wells Fargo to withdraw $500 from my pre-paid debit card which I have just loaded $1,000 onto on my new Chase Ink Plus card; cross the street to Kroger where there is a fee-free ATM to withdraw the remaining funds on my Nationwide Visa Buxx card; at the same store buy a pack of gum and take cash-back on my PayPower pre-paid visa; then on the way back drop into SunTrust to deposit the cash withdrawn; then stop at Harris Teeter to buy a new Reloadit pack to add to my new AccountNow card to pay some outstanding contractor bills and meet spend on my new Hilton credit card.
It started off badly when I got to Wells Fargo and there was an armored Loomis truck in front of me and the guy told me he’d be half an hour. Not the end of the world, but I did not have half an hour or even time to go in the branch so off to Kroger empty handed. I got my one success with unloading the Nationwide card but the cash-back on the Paypower visa failed. I still cannot work out why. It has worked in the past, so it is possible they have blocked this kind of transaction. So cautionary tale number one is that even when you have a success with a particular method, don’t always assume it will remain that way and be prepared to have to adapt.
Given I did not have as much cash now as I had expected I just skipped SunTrust and went to Harris Teeter. This is where the weirdest thing happened. I went to the cashier with my Reloadit pack as usual (I have done this many times now) and asked to load $500. It was all going fine but then she said that it had not registered correctly. She played around a little but then a supervisor came over and took me to the customer service desk. It is VITAL when you buy these cards that you make sure the funds are properly loaded and activated at the store because if you walk out and they are not, you really could be up a certain creek without any rowing instruments. And $500 is a lot of money to lose. So I was watching the situation like a hawk to make sure nothing funny happened, not even by mistake. The supervisor and a couple of colleagues played around for a while but could not activate so they tried to refund it. And this took a long time too. In the end, it theoretically worked great for me, as they managed to refund me in cash. Yes that’s right I spent $503.95 on the card ($500 plus $3.95 load fee) and they refunded me that exact amount in cash on the spot! Now I say theoretically that’s great but I did not feel comfortable. I am not sure that it was all processed properly. I have a nagging feeling that somehow they are still going to get hit for the $500 load (I have no solid reason to believe this but it’s a real concern). And if that were to be the case, that’s a loss that likely will show up on some exception report somewhere and could possibly lead to someone looking at the process for buying these cards and insisting in future they are loaded using cash. Maybe I am being too worrisome, but I just would have been a lot happier walking out with my loaded card.
And that actually reminds me of one of the other times I bought a Reloadit card I found when I got home it would not load. To load a card you have to go to Reloadit.com and enter details of your load pack and the pre-paid card you want to load it onto. Well in this one case it simply would not work, and I ended up having the hardest time getting through to a human being to get any resolution (I had to google the firm that was behind Reloadit and ended up calling their corporate office in California). In the end they were able to fix but it did take several days and a lot of effort.
So I think cautionary tale number two is if you are using these pre-paid packs of any variety (Reloadit, Vanilla, Green-dot etc) then I actually plan on loading them using my iPhone at the store so if there is some problem at least I can let them know about it and if the issuer tells me there is something wrong and I need to get a store refund that will be easier.
Be careful out there!