Eric Wolfram's List of Known Deceptions: Visa

Amazon Practices Deception with Visa Card offer -- 12/12/04 -- 11:30am

The charges
For purposefully misleading customers with a bogus offer -- Amazon is on my list. The "misunderstanding" happened because Amazon intentionally misled their customers. said I was "PRE-Approved" for an offer before I clicked, but after I clicked they changed their syntax to "if your application is approved we'll give you the discount we dangled in front of you". Amazon purposefully and decepitivly worded their web site to make me think I would seamlessly get $30 off the purchase I was about to make. Beyond that, my The whole exchange with Amazon customer support is clouded in mendacity, lies and deception.

I'm not alone, many others think that sucks.

The Proof
I was buying some books and CDs at Amazon, I had provided my visa number and was ready to click the final "check out" button, which would confirm my order. At that time the Amazon web page had an offer that said exactly:

"Sign up now and take $30 off this order with your new pre-approved Visa Card!"

Click here and pay $43 or click here and pay $18. The implication is that I'm about to get $30 off of a purchase I'm about to make if I "sign-up" for a "pre-approved" visa card. There was no other link for "more information" about this offer. I thought the offer was compelling and so I went ahead and "signed up" for the offer to pay $18. I was forwarded to a different site (BankOne) signed up for the pre-approved cobranded Visa Card offer.

After I completed the form, I was told:

"If approved, your new card will be mailed to you in approximately two weeks."

Not only was there no discount, I was told by Amazon customer service that there may NEVER be a discount -- that the whole deal was now contingent on BankOne accepting my visa "application", and if they didn't, I wouldn't get the $30 discount!

First says I'm Pre-approved and imply that I'll get $30 off of the purchase I'm about to make, and then they change the deal (and the wording.) Here's exactly what Amazon sent me plus my parenthetical comments:

The pre-approval screening for the Visa Card was conducted by a service provider (uhhh, so it isn't really an "Amazon" Visa Card) When you apply (Uhhh, so now I'm "applying" and not "signing up") for the Amazon Visa card on our web site, the information requested is that which is required by our banking partner, Bank One, to make a decision on your application (uhhh, why do they have to make a decision, I thought I was "pre-approved", ie pre-screened, so that I wouldn't be sent off wasting my time). is not in the business of approving or declining your credit card application.

I apologize if this information was unclear at the time you applied (This is really what got me, the whole verbiage before is "sign up for a pre-approved" card and now it's "apply" for the card.)

You don't need to take it. Here's what you can do...

What You Can Do

<a href="">Amazon Story of deception</a>

How Amazon can get off my list
Amazon can get off this list by publishing a public appology for misleading their customers in this case and paying them the $30 in book purchases. I don't expect they will do that so this page will probably be here at least as long as URLs are supported on the Internet, which I expect to be for a very long time.

List of Other Deceptive Practices