Back on October 22, I laid out what I called "real talk" about MyVanilla Debit cards:
Since then the shutdown reports slowed down, and other opportunities opened up, so I decided to start using my MyVanilla Debit cards more aggressively.
And my accounts are still alive and well.
MyVanilla Debit cards are still a very viable option for manufacturing relatively large amounts of spend each month. And if you've been shying away from them because of the shutdown reports, it might be time to start – carefully! – dipping your toes back in the water.
Just a few weeks later, I was sad to report that one of my 3 MyVanilla Debit cards had been shut down. It was closed after I had already emptied it down to $35, so it wasn't a big priority for me to get the account reopened or have the balance mailed to me.
My second MyVanilla shutdown is a different story entirely. On November 21, I loaded $2,000 in Vanilla Reload Network reload cards at home, then set off to Walmart to liquidate my balance using Walmart Bill Pay. By the time I got to the store about 30 minutes later, my account had already been frozen – with over $2,000 in it!
I called Incomm immediately, and was told that I needed to fax in a copy of my driver's license and Social Security card, and to call back the next day.
When I called back on November 22, I was told that they couldn't find my fax, and that instead I should email my documents to firstname.lastname@example.org, and call back an hour later to confirm they'd received them. I did, and they did. They told me the compliance department would get to my account within "72 business hours" (this is their idiotic way of saying 3 business days).
I took Thanksgiving week off, and didn't call in again until Saturday, November 30. Imagine my lack of surprise when the phone agent told me that my e-mail had been misfiled: someone had saved the file using my first and middle names, instead of my first and last names. Consequently, the compliance department had never gotten to it. After refiling my documents correctly, the agent promised that he would place it in a high priority queue and that my account would be resolved within "24 business hours."
Sure enough, by the afternoon of Monday, December 2 my account had been reopened, and I hurried to the bank to empty my account. So all told, I didn't have access to my money for about 11 days.
Here are my preliminary conclusions based on my experience and everything I've read so far:
- Shutdowns can occur the same day as loads: you may not have time to empty your account before being shutdown;
- Some shutdowns are still being resolved without faxing in copies of the Vanilla Reload cards used to load the account. Others are not;
- I no longer believe there's a safe level or type of activity with MyVanilla Debit cards, at least not at the kind of volume that's worth risking shutdown;
- The staff at Incomm are excessively incompetent, and even if they are trying in good faith to help you, their incompetence could significantly delay the resolution of your shutdown.
As in the case of my previous shutdown, I'm more than happy to provide the history of my loading and unloading activity on this account. As before "CA" designates a bank cash advance and "WM" means a Walmart bill payment:
- October 23: Load $1,000
- October 24: $1,000 WM
- October 27: Load $1,000
- October 29: $1,000 CA
- October 30: Load $2,000
- October 30: $2,000 WM
- November 5: Load $1,000
- November 6: $1,000 CA
- November 8: Load $1,000
- November 11: Load $1,000
- November 11: $2,000 WM
- November 18: Load $1,000
- November 19: Load $1,000
- November 19: $2,000 WM
- November 21: Load $2,000
So my total activity in the month leading up to my shutdown was:
- Loads: $11,000
- Cash advances: $2,000
- Walmart bill payments: $7,000
- Balance at account closure: $2,034.64