I was on my way home yesterday when I stopped at a local retailer to pick up a Vanilla Reload card which would be used to complete payment on my April apartment rent. With Vanilla Reload in hand, I walked to the self-checkout as I’ve done so many times before, scanned the card, and received an error message – “Assistance Required”. An employee came over and told me that I’d have to pay at the normal checkout counter for these types of cards going forward. OK, no problem. The card was scanned by an employee and I was asked how I wanted to pay. I presented my credit card and the employee went to swipe it, however he couldn’t! Under the payment type menu, Credit was grayed out. I then tried for the debit card trick, “yep, that card is actually a debit card”. It didn’t work, debit card was all grayed out in the payment menu as well, the only available option was cash! I even had the associate turn his screen so that I could see for myself, it was all unfortunately true. It was a sad walk back to my apartment. I had been so careful, always switching locations, never buying more than two cards at a time, and sharing the wealth by rarely purchasing more than two cards in a given week and going several weeks without any card purchases.
I decided to check out two other locations within the city. The same was true, no self-checkout accepted and cash only at the checkout counter. An associate couldn’t even override the restriction as the system automatically prevented them from selecting any other payment besides cash. All visited locations did have the same owner, Albany LLC.
I have some loyal readers checking out the situation in the suburbs of New Jersey, Long Island, and Connecticut. These locations all stocked many more Vanilla Reload cards than the city locations and tended to be quite loose with the rules. Hopefully they are still allowing the credit card payment option, updates to follow. With my March churn planned for early next week, I’ll be re-evaluating my card choices if these locations have discontinued credit card usage as well. Please leave comments with updates in your area!
Here’s some good news for locals who want to commiserate together, we finally have a date for the NYC area meet-up! It will likely be Thursday April 11th and I’ll have another post later today or tomorrow with further details. Fellow BoardingArea bloggers Deals We Like, Just Another Points Traveler, modhop, Rapid Travel Chai, and The Wandering Aramean are all tentatively attending as well! Additionally, if you signed up for the NYC meet-up updates back in January, look out for an email next week with full details.
Update – I just received two reader updates which indicate that NJ and LI locations are still working! From the comments the midwest and west coast are still fine as well. However, a reader was just turned down at another 2 NYC locations. So, the good news looks like the change is only impacting certain Manhattan locations. Hopefully it doesn’t spread!