iTunes Gift Card misery

Discussion in 'General Smartphone/Handheld/Wearable Discussion' started by jigwashere, Oct 7, 2018.

  1. jigwashere

    jigwashere Life is a circus!

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    It just doesn't work.

    A few years ago, I bought a couple of iTunes gift cards for family members. I have one of them sitting in front of me and wanted to see if it has a balance. A miserable waste of an hour later, I have the answer.

    You can't just check the balance of an iTunes gift card on a web site. Nope. Not possible. I tried www.apple.com/shop/gift-cards and clicked 'Check balance.' It won't let me check the balance w/o signing in to my account. What? It's a plastic gift card! I didn't purchase it with an Apple ID -- I shouldn't be required to use an Apple ID to find out if it has a remaining balance.

    Anyway, I have 3 Apple IDs in my house. I pick one, log in, and am asked for a PIN. There are 4 sets of numbers on the back of the card, but I assume it's the one that was under the scratch-off. The response - invalid PIN. Great. I try the other 3 sets of numbers and get the same response.

    After more Googling for suggestions to figure this out, I decide to call Apple Support. Their robot asks why I'm calling. "Gift Card Balance." More questions, like my Apple ID, which device am I calling about, and what's the device serial number. Come on! Seriously?

    I ask the robot if I can talk to a real person and get transferred. The nice lady hems and haws, puts me on hold for 5 minutes, then decides she needs to transfer me to an iTunes person. 2 more minutes and the iTunes person answers.

    The nice iTunes lady asks for my Apple ID. Sigh...I interrupt her and ask why she needs that -- I have a physical, plastic iTunes card and want to know if it has a balance. Yes. She says she can help. Finally, after figuring out which of the numbers she needs and repeating the string a couple of times, she responds, "the card has been redeemed."

    "Redeemed? Okay, great. Do you realize I just wasted an hour only to find out my card has a zero balance?" "I didn't say it has a zero balance - I said it was redeemed." Huh? What does that mean? It basically means that the gift card balance was transferred to an Apple account. There is still money available, but it's on the account. "Which one? How much?" "I can't tell you that."

    Sigh....

    Thanks, Apple.
     
  2. lelisa13p

    lelisa13p Your Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    I suppose nowadays, when one uses an iTunes gift card, the entire value of the card at the time of activation/redemption is transferred to a designated iTunes account and then the purchase amount of whatever item is chosen is subtracted from the account balance. A simple way to account for the total face value of the gift card being transferred from the giver > recipient > Apple iTunes account. It makes sense from an accounting standpoint but without the recipient knowing ahead of time the necessity of having a method for tracking the Apple ID application of the gift card, it becomes what you experienced.

    Going forward, maybe attach a piece of paper tape to the plastic gift card and in it write a hint of the Apple ID used for that card.
     
  3. jigwashere

    jigwashere Life is a circus!

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    Thanks for the suggestion, but going forward, I will avoid giving iTunes gift cards.
    • My daughter was the recipient of the iTunes gift card. I'm not sure if I gave it to her. It was probably me, but could have been my wife, my parents, or one of her friends. Once she redeemed it, she didn't know what to do with it, so she put it on my desk. I didn't know that. I didn't know where the card came from. Yes, going forward, I can make a note on any iTunes gift cards I handle, but now I guess I need to educate my wife and kids on how they work, too. Very user-friendly, Apple! NOT.
    • Apparently, iTunes gift cards cannot be shared. So, this $50 gift card was fully redeemed by my daughter on her Apple ID. She has only spent $23 of it and has no need or plan to spend the rest. She can't simply hand the gift card with remaining value to someone else. Sharing the remaining amount means jumping through hoops.
     
  4. headcronie

    headcronie Greyscale. Nuff Said. Super Moderator

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    What a nightmare! We've dealt with iTunes cards at work. Yes, we've had to buy them to acquire apps for enterprise deployed iPads. Let that sink in. What a racket! I've basically said those devices are not my problem, and dismissed them from my office desk... A cruel sense of irony - those individuals that championed iPads at work, are all leaving their jobs...

    [​IMG]
     
  5. raspabalsa

    raspabalsa Brain stuck BogoMipping

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    IMO, the way the gift card was handled makes sense. When you give the gift card to someone, he/she redeems it via their Apple ID, thus the full balance is immediately transfered to said ID's account. The gift card is unlike a prepaid credit card in the sense that it can't be used for partial purchases (can't be partially redeemed). Once the card has been redeemed there's no need to keep the plastic card anymore.

    It's exactly the same with Amazon gift cards: the full balance is transfered to one account when redeemed, and can't be transfered to another account nor can it be redeemed as money. Some time ago I planned to give an Amazon gift card to my teenage daughter so she could buy some ebooks, but then she'd end with a fractional balance (not enough for another book), so I'd have to buy another gift card, and repeat. Because of this, I prefer to buy her ebooks as gifts, and she redeems them on her account. Incidentally, this lets me check and approve/reject her selections :) . I know this will change once she demands more independence, but she'll have to earn it first :newpalm:
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2018
  6. jigwashere

    jigwashere Life is a circus!

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    You're right about Amazon gift cards. I hadn't realized that because all the Amazon gift cards I had I purchased for myself at a discount and redeemed them right away.

    I think both iTunes and Amazon gift cards suck when it comes to determining their value. I'll concede that it's okay they require a gift card be redeemed on a single account. I don't like it, but that's the way it is. But if I find an Amazon or iTunes gift card, I should be able to check to see if it has already been redeemed by simply entering the code on the website or calling one of their robots. With the iTunes gift card, I could not check it online, the robot couldn't tell me, and even the first-line customer service representative couldn't figure it out. I had even logged in to my Apple account to check the balance, but it told me the code I entered was invalid! I know Amazon requires you to log in before checking the balance on a gift card, too.

    I just tried checking the balance of an old gift card and logged in to an old Amazon account I have. The message? "Already redeemed to another account We had a problem redeeming your gift card. This gift card claim code has been redeemed to another account." That's clear enough. I wish iTunes would do the same. Instead, when I log in and try checking the balance, it tells me, "Please enter a valid PIN number."
     
  7. raspabalsa

    raspabalsa Brain stuck BogoMipping

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    I'm guessing there's no way to check the balance because the system was designed that way. The gift card doen't have an actual balance (in the sense that a credit or debit card does) - it either has its full value, or none at all. Meaning the only way a user can tell if the card hasn't been redeemed is to try to redeem it on his/her account. If it's already been redeemed, then the system shows an error. If it hasn't been redeemed, then the full value will be transfered to the user account. I just googled and there are several stories with this exact situation, and lots of them end with the user complaining about money on their iTunes accounts and nothing to do with it.

    This reminds me of the old Bugs Bunny cartoon where he was rejected from military service, but he insisted to help the Army some way or other, so he was assigned to test bombs at the factory: he hit the fuse with a hammer and if the bomb failed to explode he scribbled "DUD" on the bombcase. The cartoon ended before he found his first non-dud bomb :D :D
     
  8. EdmundDantes

    EdmundDantes Mobile Deity

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    These same kind of stories crop up every year around Christmas time or soon after. Gift cards and checks always seem more hassle than they're worth. Cash or a real check seems like a better bet, but I do know especially Apple gift cards are/were very popular. Usually people buy an iTune or something cheap to max-out the value. For office gifts, I have given Amex Gift Checks or whatever they're called, because they're essentially cash and easily redeemed; but you still get the not-exact-balance issue, so you need to add cash. Usually a store will give you a small balance if there is one.
     
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  9. EdmundDantes

    EdmundDantes Mobile Deity

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    One other thing: there are also scams where if you buy something like an Apple gift card from one of those store racks and don't look at it, someone might have just scratched off the covering and redeemed it right there and you've bought a used card. They have made it so it's harder to do that now, because it was a big scam for a while.
     
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