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Old 11-16-2010, 02:37 PM   #1
KevinH
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Be Careful buying Gift Cards on Sony Reader Store

Hi,

Warning, be careful with buying Gift Cards on the Sony Reader site. My wife wanted to give me ebooks for Xmas and since I have a Sony PRS-600 I chose the Sony Reader Bookstore (my big mistake) to get a Gift Card from.

First off, you have to have the Reader Software installed to buy a gift card for someone. My wife only likes real paper books, and so thought it was silly to have to install the software just to buy me a gift card. So we used my machine which already has the Sony Reader software.

I added in all of the billing info, and a nice message of Merry Xmas from my wife and checked out with only one $50 gift card in my basket. I am thinking that was easy and painless. I few minutes later I got confirmation e-mails and everything looked great. Then another minute later I received another set of confirmation e-mails. So I thought e-mail glitch, but when I looked there were two different order numbers and two different gift card numbers! It seems my $50 purchase had somehow become a $100 purchase without my consent.

So I call up Sony to get one of the gift cards cancelled and a refund. How hard could that be?

Here is what I experienced:

Called the first time and was disconnected or hung up on after only a few minutes? The connection is simply not good. So I called again. Entered my phone number into the automated system again, and waited for a human to pick up.

I explain I only checked out once with one $50 gift card in my basket but seem to have been charged for two. Talked to Henry. Had a hard time understanding him because the phone line connection is again not good (and yes I am on a land line and yes I never have connection or noise problems with it) and he speaks with an accent. He immediately asks me for my phone number which I just gave to the automated machine. I explain I just gave it to the automated system who said they "looked my file up". He explains he still needs the phone number so I gave it again.

He tells me I am not part of their system. I explain once again that I just bought a gift card on the Sony Reader Store via my Reader software, so I do have an account. He goes an looks on another store IT system and finally finds me!

I again asked them to cancel one of those gift cards since I only checked out with one. I was put on hold a very very long time while they tried to figure out how to do that.

Henry comes back to me and explains that they are trying but they may have to cancel/hold both until a credit for one of them can appear on my account.

I said "no" that is not acceptable.

Again, another long wait on hold.

Henry comes back and now they are telling me I must redeem one of the gift cards immediately!!!

I can't believe it!

I told them in no uncertain terms that I am not going to redeem one of those gift cards immediately.

I explain that this whole problem is their fault and that this is very very poor customer service to try to force me to redeem an entire gift card just after it was bought just to cancel the second card I NEVER ordered.

I tell them to just cancel one of the damn gift cards and give me a credit on my credit card in a very loud and clear voice and I add that I simply can not believe that this is something that hard to do!

Again a delay while they figure out things on their end.

They refuse to cancel one and say I must pick one to cancel. I said I don't care which one, just cancel one. They refused and said again I must choose one.

What the hell.. so I picked the one gift card to cancel.

Then Henry says they could not cancel it. I ask why?

And they explain the order number is not sufficient and that they need the gift card number.

Why they did not ask for the gift card number in advance if they needed it was completely beyond me!

So I gave them the Gift Card number quite loudly I might add because the phone line is fading in and out and I can barely hear him most of the time and because my frustration level with what should be a simple task for them is mounting!

At this point I get admonished by Henry for using a loud voice when half the time I can barely hear him and the other half I am trying to figure out exactly what he is saying.

I wait yet again and finally get a Refund confirmation number (but no e-mail has come to confirm anything). So I am keeping my fingers crossed but I am certainly not holding my breath.

All I wanted to do was buy a gift card for myself since my wife could not easily do it. Total elapsed time to buy a single gift card and fight with their customer service - over 1 hour of my day gone.

Why on earth this was such a hard thing to do is beyond me? Why on earth they hire people that are hard to understand for "Customer Service" is again beyond me? Why they would require installing the Sony Reader Software just to buy a gift card is again beyond me?

If you are brave enough to try the same thing I hope your experience is better than mine.
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Old 11-16-2010, 03:09 PM   #2
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omg, that's awful.

I had a problem redeeming a Sony gift card. I got the promotion where I got 2 Sony gift cards for buying a reader. I put a book in my shopping cart and went to check out. The book got charged to my credit card without ever asking me to enter a gift card number. Turns out, you are supposed to enter your gift card BEFORE you ever check out. (I am an ecommerce consultant for Fortune 500 companies, so I can give you my professional opinion that this is LAME-ASS LAME.)

I tried the live chat and never got connected with someone, so I wrote Sony an email about what happened. They said that ebooks are non-refundable, so too bad. I decided to eat the expense rather than call, so that I wouldn't have the nightmare phone call that you describe above.

eP
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Old 11-16-2010, 04:15 PM   #3
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Sorry you had so much difficulty with your purchase. Maybe for others it's better to purchase gift cards at retail stores in person.

Borders currently has a gift card promotion too.
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Old 11-16-2010, 04:35 PM   #4
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Hi,

Actually I tried that first. I am Canadian but there is no Chapters store anywhere in my home town (closest one is about 50km away). Before I drove to the store to buy the gift card, I called Kobo bookstore and asked if they would accept a Chapters/Indigo gift card to purchase books online with. (FYI: Chapters/Indigo is one of the companies that started the Kobo ebook store).

I was told they would not. So I asked if they (Kobo books) had a gift card I could use instead and was told they have "Coupons" but not Gift Cards.

So next I called Amazon and asked if I could use an Amazon.ca gift card to purchase Kindle ebooks online with (I have Kindle for iPad also) and then said no. I then asked what if I bought an Amazon.com gift card instead, would I be able to purchase ebooks with it online from Canada (just to be sure). No one at Amazon.com seemed to be able to answer that question. I was put on hold twice and transferred twice and finally got to a Kindle specialist and then they said they would have to check and would I hold yet again. I finally just hung up the phone.

Given how much money companies make from gift cards (especially when forgotten or lost cards are included), it seems quite strange how hard it has been for my wife to simply get me a "book" given I have moved to ebooks!

Oh well! It is clear the ebook store really haven't learned the basics of running a successful business. Hopefully when the shakeout happens, one of them will figure things out.
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Old 11-19-2010, 10:59 PM   #5
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I just thought I would add to this thread some good news that was announced this week. Kobo is rolling out the ability to gift a specific ebook in addition to egift cards that can be used at their store. You can read more at this link. Since the Kobo store is not specific to the Kobo ereader, then this should be a way to gift ebooks to Sony users too.

http://www.kobobooks.com/giftguide
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Old 11-20-2010, 02:01 PM   #6
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I bought a giftcard through the eBook store for my nephew for his birthday several months ago. I also included a nice message for him. I arranged for it to be delivered via email on his birthday. The day came and went, nothing from my nephew. Finally my brother called and told me the email never arrived. Two long phone conversations with Sony, and finally they just gave me the coupon number for him to put in at the bookstore.

I liked the idea of him receiving the email with the codes on his birthday, would have been a nice touch. In retrospect, though, what I can't figure out is why they didn't just give me the code to begin with, I could have emailed it to him myself, like I finally did.
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