One Vanilla and a Full Chocolate Mint recipe by the same cookbook company are always a safe bet. There's nothing wrong with mixing the two together to create that all important, “balanced” eating experience. The key here isn't the recipe for One Vanilla and Full Chocolate Mint, but rather the card information on the back of the recipe card.
The ingredients listed for the recipe are very similar to the ingredients listed on the back of the One Vanilla and Full Chocolate Mint gift card. The answer they provide is also very similar. The scam artist will put money first, then explain why it isn't included in the mix. The card looks like it's legit because there is a photo of an actual product, and the back of the card has the information to prove it. If you're ever asked to put money first before anything else at a restaurant, don't let that be you.
But let's face it, if you're going to give someone a gift card, wouldn't you want to know what exactly you're giving them? Wouldn't you want to be able to find out if the recipe is legit or not? You should be able to get the answer to that question from the One Vanilla and Full Chocolate Mint gift card information. However, they don't tell you the answer. They provide no information on the validity of their claim.
Let's look at the card information they provide. The first question they ask you to answer is this: “How would like to receive a free sample of your favourite chocolate from our popular partner, One Vanilla?” followed by “What's your favourite flavour?” Finally, the last question they have you answer is this: “Does the store offer any other gifts with this card?”
Don't be fooled by their customer service answer. This is not a company, they're trying to win over with a free product. They want to make money, plain and simple. If someone else were to give them a decent discount for such a lousy product, they'd dump it and move onto greener pastures.
So how do you know if this is a legitimate company? Look for some kind of disclaimer in the gift card sale agreement. You'll probably also see terms and conditions stating that you must request a sample or proof of authenticity before you receive your actual card. These are classic indications that this isn't a legit company.
Another sign to beware is when they ask you to put money down before you can receive your gift card. When the merchant isn't charging you an activation fee, this means that they aren't expecting to make a sale. So instead of asking you to pay a monthly minimum deposit, they ask you to pay an extra “activation fee”.
Finally, be on the lookout for terms such as “exchange or return”, which pretty much says that if you aren't satisfied, you can get your money back! Legitimate merchant websites should have no problem at all accommodating returns or exchanges – it's how they make their living. A “one-pack” website might not have this option available, but if you can find one that does, you can be sure that their customer service is top notch, and they stand behind their products. And by “top notch”, I mean that if you need to contact them about any problems, they will actually be able to solve them, instead of trapping you in an endless emailing loop that only makes you feel frustrated.
Now that we've got the bad news out of the way, what can you do to avoid being scammed when shopping online? One of the first things to look out for is a website that isn't local. If the website is from a different state, or even a different country, then you can rest assured that it is probably an international company, meaning they don't have offices in your area. If you can, find a local retailer that sells gift cards – some of these retailers allow you to enter your zip code to find out your location, so make sure you enter your zip code before checkout.
Next, be wary of any site that asks you to sign up for something before you can obtain your gift cards. Any legitimate merchant will always ask for the customer name and address before processing a transaction. If they send you a request for personal information, like your social security number, then call the phone number listed on the website and call them. If you get no answer, then proceed to report the site to the federal trade commission and the Better Business Bureau. You can also tell the credit card company not to do business with them, as it's illegal for them to do this.
Finally, if the site won't let you give them a reason to honor their money back guarantee, or won't let you review the terms and conditions, then you should probably keep looking. The last thing you want is to get a gift card, only to find out that you can't use it because you didn't follow the website's instructions. Also, if they won't let you try the product before you purchase it, or won't refund the money, then they are unlikely to be reputable. Legitimate companies should let you return the product in question or offer you a money back guarantee. Any company that won't or can't provide you with any of these terms is probably a scammer.
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