Do NOT Order Whole Foods Gift Cards Online!

Posted by CreditCardGuru

Whole Foods already wants to take your whole paycheck. Now they want your whole identity, too.

Last year for my birthday someone had sent me a Whole Foods e-gift card. I actually think gift cards are the dumbest, most impersonal gifts ever, but admittedly they are convenient and easy. Or should I say, they’re supposed to be easy. That’s not the case with Whole Paycheck.

Whole Foods is a liar

On January 27th, 2013 I was trying to think of something I could buy a friend of mine. I like buying useful things and being that he’s vegan, I figure ordering him this to save money at the grocery store could be helpful. So I place the order on wholefoods.com for a $150 gift card.

I guess when it rains it pours, because this experience was bad from the start. After entering all the info for my order, I was unable to add the gift card to my shopping cart due to an AJAX script error on Whole Foods website. I’m not even that web savvy, yet I could even identify the sloppy code their website is using is non-compliant with the latest version of the Chrome browser.

So what do I have to do? Open Firefox and re-enter all the info again… finally I am able to add the card to my cart. Next, I hit submit and this is what happens:

gift card order pending

Hmm… that’s annoying. So I call the number and “Brian” answers the phone. He asks for my address and name (the latter of which I have to spell out, multiple times) and then asks for my Social Security number.

Me: What?! Are you kidding?!
Brian: This is part of the series of questions we need to ask to verify your identity.

I order a LOT online (and using this same credit card) and have never encountered this before. In fact, just last quarter, I placed orders for over $5,000 worth of computers from three different online retailers and none of them asked me for my SSN. Yet to order a Whole Foods gift card, I need to tell them this very private number? Does that make any sense?!

I refused to give Brian (if that’s even his real name) my SSN. So to approve the order, we had to get Chase on the line and do a 3-way call. After I see the call time on my phone go past the 10 minute mark and he is able to ask Chase all the questions he wants, finally the order is approved and placed.

After that, I ask Brian a couple closing questions:

Me: What is your name again?
Brian: Brian
Me: And what’s your last name?
Brian: I can’t tell you that.
Me: So let me get this right. You want me to trust you with my Social Security number and everything about me, yet I can’t even know your last name? This isn’t exactly a two way street here.

Just to clarify, Chase has nothing to do with this ridiculousness. It is Whole Paycheck who has implemented this bizarre ID verification policy for ordering online gift cards. Apparently, they use some company called “Giftango” to do this evasive background check, regardless of what credit card you’re using.

Whole lotta hassle

Whole Foods logo parodyPart of the reason ID theft is so prevalent these days is because we’re expected to give out our Social Security about as often as we give out our first name. The more times we have to give this number out, the more places it’s being stored. And that means more places hackers can obtain it. Obviously, I understand the need of giving it when you apply for credit, but asking for it just to order a basic gift card is insanity. I have draw the line there.

But even if you don’t have a problem revealing your SSN to random first name strangers in whereabouts unknown at third-party companies you’ve never heard of, you should still avoid ordering gift cards online at Whole Foods for the reason that it’s a mega time-waster. I would have never placed the order if I had known all the hoops I’d be jumping through at 10:30 pm on my previously peaceful Sunday night.

Thank goodness when I call my Chase card’s customer service number, I get direct access to a live person immediately without having to press any buttons…

3 comments... read them below or add your own

  1. Julia May 27, 2013 at 7:10PM

    DO NOT RELOAD Whole Food gift cards!! Michael, I encountered the same very creepy invasive questions also. I tried to reload a gift card for a college student son and got a cryptic error msg:
    “Your order did not process. Please review your credit card and billing information for accuracy and submit again. If you continue to have issues, please submit payment using a different card.” Sounds like something is wrong with my card, doesn’t it? Nothing is and the reload has been approved by my credit card company. But the gift card has not been reloaded because I didn’t get redirected to their 3rd party gift card provider. So when I talked to their customer service department, she (don’t remember her name) said I needed to go through the verification process (that you went through) for my safety. Yeh, right. Cancel the reload because the 3rd party gift card provider asked way too many questions (including SSN) and that was too creepy. I guess they just don’t want my money. Buyer Beware!! Whole Food Gift Cards are NOT convenient if you plan on reloading them and Whole Foods has no interest in fixing their terrible reload system.

  2. Linda March 11, 2013 at 10:11AM

    Thank you, Michael. The whole point of ordering online is speed, convenience and not making a phone call. While on hold enduring the same experience, I Googled and found this post, so I was prepared when the agent finally came on the line. I answered two questions, then told him to cancel the order. He agreed. I immediately called Chase and told them not to authorize the charge, which had already been put through. WF sent a Pending Order Receipt email, but they have not sent a confirmation of the cancellation. Absolutely ridiculous! And downright slimy!

  3. Dewey February 6, 2013 at 9:39AM

    Excellent article and advice. Credit fraud is so rampant that it pays to be extremely careful. Recently someone stole my debit card ID, I haven’t a clue how but my CO called and asked if I had authorized a charge to a CVS pharmacy in New York (I live in Arizona). We got it straightened out with a minimum of interference. Be careful; this can really mess you up!

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