MyVanilla releases my money

A couple of weeks ago, my Mio card changed to a MyVanilla card and my account was promptly frozen.  I reported my predicament in the post “MyVanilla grabs my money and won’t let go.”  Its not unusual to have a prepaid card account forcibly closed, but in those situations the card company will send you a check upon request (or, at least, they’ll say they’ll send a check – some people have found that those checks can take a very long time to arrive).  In my case, my account wasn’t closed, it was frozen.  As such, they wouldn’t let me get at my money — not even by closing my account.

The only option I was given to unfreeze my account was to send in proof of identity and “load receipts” which included receipts of my Vanilla Reload purchases and scans of the front and back of the cards.  Since, in the past, I always tossed out receipts after loading cards successfully, I couldn’t comply.  I also had no way of knowing which Vanilla Reload cards had been used to load this card vs. my (or my wife’s) Bluebird card.  At the suggestion of a manager, I sent in proof of identity and a letter (as an email attachment) explaining why I couldn’t provide load receipts.  I also separately filed a complaint with the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) against The Bancorp Bank (which is the issuing bank).

What happened next…

The CFPB complaint was useless.  As of yesterday, the complaint still had the status “received”.  That means that no one has picked up the complaint to try to do anything about it.

I called MyVanilla last Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) to make sure they received the documents I had sent.  My account was still frozen and the call center agent told me that I was missing the load receipts.  Yep, I knew that.  I tried in vain to explain the situation, but was told again that load receipts were the only way to get my account cleared.

I put the whole thing on the backburner over the long holiday weekend.  Then, yesterday morning I called again.  I was shocked to discover that my account was active!  My submission of documents without load receipts must have worked!  I promptly told an agent to please cancel my account.  I was put on hold for a long time, but was finally promised to receive a check for the balance in “up to 4 weeks”.

I know that some will say I should have kept my card.  There’s a theory that once a card has gone through review, it is safe from then on.  That may be true, but honestly I simply do not want to deal with this company any more if I can help it.

Other options for resolution

In response to my original post about this issue, I received many comments and emails with helpful suggestions about what I should do (thank you everyone!).  Without any judgment about which ideas are good or bad, here is what readers suggested:

  • File in small claims court.  This was by far the most often mentioned option.
  • File a complaint with the FDIC.  This was the second most often mentioned option.
  • Contact your state’s Attorney General’s office.
  • Call and demand a 24-48 hour window to access funds.
  • File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Contact Incomm’s General Counsel.
  • Contact the National Association of Consumer Advocates. 

Since I didn’t actually do any of the above options, I can’t say which if any would work if you find yourself in a similar situation.  Hopefully, like me, you can get your funds released without having to escalate the issue too far.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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  1. I’m glad you got your money back (or at least a promise to get it back) without waiting a long, long time. I have learned before that the CFPB can be a toothless tiger.

    Other than to harass you, what do you suppose they accomplish by demanding all that documentation from you? I mean, what can they really hope to achieve other than to scare people or just close them down?

  2. When I first read the title, I had a shreek of excitement run down my body. I waited for the details re: the my money card released by my vanilla, much to my dismay. 🙁

  3. “We’ll mail you a check.” and you believed them? Don’t be surprised when six weeks have passed and you’re still waiting.

  4. Glad that you have the promise of money back to you but I would suggest that you still follow through on some of the suggestions as an advocate for you and others as well as having things in place in case you do not get your money back in a timely manner.

  5. Three times I have done stupid things and each time Incomm’s customer service has been amazingly helpful. In one instance, I thought I loaded Bluebird but it didn’t go through, which I realized only after I had thrown away the cards. And the receipt! But they helped me get the funds loaded, believe it or not. Just yesterday I contacted them about yet another problem and I always feel the agents go out of their way to be helpful. Requiring all that documentation is outrageous, however, and I’m not sure what it would have proved. Glad it worked out for you.

  6. I had a bluebird check sent to my friend that got lost in the mail. Address and info were correct but they lost it. To this day they still didn’t reissue. Heck or redeposit funds into my account. It’s been over a month already and I call every other day. They keep telling me it will happen automatically if not cashed with 4-6 weeks.

  7. I still can’t believe you guys don’t save your receipts. With all of the money at stake, just staple or paper clip the paper receipt to the reload card and throw it in a box. Clean out the box once a year. You never know when it will come in handy or when something will go wrong. It seems a bit callous to not take some basic precautions, especially for a situation like @Lynn where you could be throwing $500 in the trash.

  8. I had a similar problem happening to me yesterday with my Bluebird account. Upon logging in, I found my account locked with the notice that they had detected “unusual activity” and had to grab my balance (about $3K) for my protection. I was instructed to call cuastomer service to had it unlocked. But the CS had me on hold and bouncing between India and Bangladesh for several hours, eventually announcing that my account was taken over by a “special unit” and nothing could be done yet. So far I haven’t heard back from that “special unit” yet.

      • Finally received a call from that “special unit” about the lockout. The “unusual activity” in question was a store return without a matching store purchase for the same amount. I confirmed the transaction as valid and he unlocked the account. Although the rep made no claims that the return credits are not allowed, he stated that another such transaction will trigger a permanent closure of my account!
        I think it would be wise to drain my BB promptly from now on, and not carry any permanent balances there.

  9. I always shredded the cards and receipts, but from now on I’m saving them. What a miserable situation to be in; glad it seems to be resolved. Let us know when you get the check.

  10. Call me obsessive but I scan every single receipt, load receipt, and gift card. Every document scanned is organized by date and credit card used to purchase it.

    I bought an office-grade color laser printer/scanner/duplexer that makes scanning very quick with a “phone book” that uploads it to the appropriate credit card’s receipt or BB loads folder, and then my computer automatically uploads it to my secure cloud account so that it can be accessed anywhere

    Those receipts have saved me time and time again. 99 out of ever 100 transactions don’t have any issues but just having 1 mess up can devastate you, “mentally” if not financially

  11. I went through this myself with them just today after my card got declined at Walmart. I called and at first they said they wanted load receipts, copies of the reload cards front and back, a copy of my ID and my complete SS# on a signed piece of paper faxed to them. I said no way and asked to talk to a supervisor. The tone changed almost immediately when I said there was no way in hell I was putting down my ss# on a piece of paper and said I’d be happy to verify whatever info they needed over the phone. Then all of a sudden they said just a copy of my DL would be ok. Fine. I sent them that. I was told this should be cleared up first thing in the morning. We’ll see…

  12. I am blessed to have a Charlie Victor Sierra within a mile of my house. I do my first card for $500 then hand them my driver’s license then they load the second card for $500 then I give them the credit card of the day…….return home call the lovely operator and load via phone……I do throw the receipts in the bottom file drawer but I have never had an issue with this routine and monthly I throw out all the receipts and old cards……..rinse and repeat…………I believe VR can be a very stressful event for a lot of people if you don’t develop a routine………think about it, do you want to spend part of your life on the phone to the Philippines? Sorta takes the flow off that free vacation just thinking about it!

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