It's no secret that many travel hackers know more about the ins and outs of merchant software than the employees themselves. That makes sense: for us, the difference between success and failure is the difference between a payday and going home empty-handed, while for those helping us check out, we're mostly just another ripple in the daily river of anonymous customers.
For a Walmart customer service agent who sells dozens of money orders every shift, but processes just one or two CheckFreePay bill payments, of course it's up to us to insist they not key in the amount of a split tender until after we've entered a PIN.
Nonetheless, our tellers are people, and people are basically curious at heart; when we see unusual events, we tend to seek an explanation. And the other day, the manager at my local Family Dollar shared her explanation for why Serve loads are occasionally rejected.
Background: Serve loads at Family Dollar
Regular readers know that for the past few months I've been loading my Serve account at Family Dollar, where OneVanilla prepaid debit cards are still accepted without any fuss.
However, using Family Dollar raises its own issues; in particular, you can generally only load a Serve card once per day, per store location. Since I only have one convenient Family Dollar location, that means loading $5,000 in OneVanilla cards over ten days, compared to the 2 days possible at Walmart registers ($2,500 per day).
Additional velocity limits
In addition to the limitation of $500 per day, per store location, there are also other, unpublished limits on the number and speed of Serve loads. When loads are attempted in excess of those limits, the transaction is rejected and the cashier is given a "fraud warning." After that, the OneVanilla card has to be swiped again, and the PIN re-entered, in order to refund the amount of the load back to the prepaid debit card (don't leave before completing this procedure!).
There are various explanations floated, for example on FlyerTalk, for what triggers those fraud warnings. I hadn't thought much about it, since I only have the one Serve card, until yesterday, when I finally encountered a fraud warning and went through the rigamarole described above.
The employee helping me called for his manager, who had herself helped me multiple times already this month, and she gave me her own explanation for why Serve loads are sometimes rejected: she claimed that each store was allowed to load exactly 3 American Express cards per day; it's loads in excess of that number that prompt rejection.
Now, I don't think what's essentially a store manager's speculation necessarily deserves more weight than FlyerTalker speculation, for all the reasons I described above. On the other hand, she did claim that she's been loading a lot of American Express cards this month, so I also don't think it can be dismissed completely out of hand.
What's your favorite explanation for Serve load rejections at Family Dollar?