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International gift card buyers beware!
on November 10, 2014
International buyers beware! A thoughtful and generous family member in Canada was unable to purchase a gift card on Amazon.com for my wife and me in the United States. Reluctantly, he sent us an Amazon.ca gift card thinking that we would still be able to make use of it. The truth is that even though it appears on the outside that Amazon.com and Amazon.ca are the same company; and inexplicably you can log in to either website using the same login/password (I never set up an identical Amazon.ca account); and even though everything else looks the same; and ostensibly this in many ways *is* the same company (they have all my credit card info on Amazon.ca already, all my addresses, etc); you CANNOT transfer the gift card from one country to another even if you are willing to take a hit on monetary conversion from CDN dollar to US dollar. I can send it to someone else but it has to stay in Canadian currency. The Prime service I have paid for on my Amazon.com account (for many years now) does not apply to Amazon.ca.
Hoping to make the best of this, my wife and I looked into what we could purchase and have delivered. A small reading light will cost more to ship than the actual cost of the light itself and will have to be delivered at the lowest rate (I could receive it within a couple days here). I'm guessing it will have to do some major traveling (as it likely already has) to get here. Perhaps even more frustrating is that many of the items we have tried to add to our shopping cart cannot be delivered to the US due to regional shipping prohibitions. Yes, I understand certain electronics but a picture frame?
I dug a little deeper to see what I could get as far as books (because that's Amazon's bread and butter, right)? A book by a small publisher that I could receive TOMORROW in the US will ship "within one to three months" according to Amazon.ca. I then checked Harry Potter series -- very readily available, but for the CDN$ 52.74 cost of the book collection, the international shipping & handling at the slowest/lowest rate is CDN$ 17.35. Yowza!
Chat and e-mail with Amazon.com and Amazon.ca were given prompt response but with canned responses or confusing English that was so difficult to comprehend that it took several reads to really understand what was trying to be conveyed. ("Unfortunately there is no such things or else I would love to help you with it. I'd request you to contact your relative who have provided you with this gift card and I'm sure that they will be able to provide you with the details of it or provide you with another card so that you can use it on Amazon.com." = not true since the relative already tried to do this FIRST).
We are now stuck with a relatively large gift card that we'll likely just have to use to send gifts to other Canadian family. Although we are generally very pleased with our Amazon.COM purchases, this first interaction with Amazon.ca is less than desired. We will continue to treat Amazon.ca as a separate, independently operating company if they wish, but they have immediately left a bad taste in our mouth and we will certainly warn our family in the north to avoid cross-nation transactions.