I don't want to complain too much, considering I got the $25 gift card rather easily (for filling out a survey online). And also, thank you to the company who conducted the survey for the nice gift (they were seeking information from app developers on their experience with certain platforms and SDK's).
So what's the scoop?
Well I found out rather surprisingly that Amazon gift cards can only be used on the originating site to which they were purchased. This completely screws anyone who lives in a different country. I live in Canada (which has Amazon.ca), but my gift card was bought from Amazon.com (USA).
For example, in my case the gift card was purchased by the company on Amazon.com (USA). When I tried to type in the code on Amazon.ca (Canada), it would not accept it. Ok, so I logged into Amazon.com using my Canadian (Amazon.ca) account username and password and was able to add the funds to my account. Great. However, it was NOT added to my Amazon.ca account. It was added to Amazon.com. Yet I was able to log in to both accounts using the same username and password. Huh?
Independent Entities? B.S.!
I contacted Amazon support to try and understand. Apparently, each Amazon is a different entity. I was under the assumption that $25 US would just be CONVERTED to whatever currency you are paying with, and could use ANY Amazon site around the world.... US, Canada, UK, and others... what is the difference? Why can the gift card not just be redeemed at the current exchange rate on any of the Amazon sites around the world?
The reason this becomes an issue is mostly with people who have relatives and friends around the world and want to gift them some Amazon goodness. You may be giving them a gift card which is prohibitively expensive to actually redeem. I will give you an example from my case.
I searched for items on Amazon.ca and found books for approximately the same price as the Amazon.com counterpart. Great. So what is the big deal? Well remember, Amazon also has independent sellers from which you can buy new or used items. They set approximate shipping costs based on location. It turns out that standard shipping costs are calculated very differently once they go across the border. Canadian shipping from a Canadian seller is much less expensive than buying the item from a US seller.
When you are on Amazon.com, anything that is intended to cross the border over to Canada is going to fall under "international shipping" rates, rather than "domestic".... and Amazon.com will show US sellers for the most part. To get Canadian sellers who consider shipping to Canada as "domestic" shipping and save yourself a bundle, you will need to search on Amazon.ca. But you then can't use your gift card because it is only showing up on the Amazon.com site! Argh!
Here is an example:
Search for "Raspberry Pi User Guide" on Amazon.com to find sellers who are giving new copies of the book for about $11. It will then cost about $3.99 to ship domestically within the US (4-14 days). If you are in Canada, you will be forced to pay "International Standard" rates with the shipping fee that more than quadruples to $16.95 and can take 3-6 weeks ("International Expedited" 3-7 days is $44.95)!
Search for "Raspberry Pi User Guide" on Amazon.ca to find it for about $10 new from some sellers. The shipping of $6.49 domestically within Canada (4-14 days) is much less than the Amazon.com international shipping rates.
So the choices are...if I buy the book from Amazon.COM but have it sent to me in Canada, it costs me around $11+17 = $28 (and wait 3-6 weeks) versus Amazon.CA where it costs me $10+6.50 = $16.50 (1-2 weeks). Alternatively, buying from Amazon.COM and sending to USA would be $11+4=$15. The choices are $28 (US to Canada and use Gift Card), $16.50 (Canada to Canada but can't use the Gift Card) or $15 (US to US and use Gift Card).
So what did I do?
At the end of the day, the last choice made the most sense. Pay $15, get to use my gift card, and have it shipped to family in the USA who will be coming soon to visit me anyways and bring me the book. If that was not an option, I would have just paid $16.50 and saved the gift card for another occasion. But there is no way I would pay almost double....$28... simply to cash out my gift card.
I told this to Amazon but I doubt they care or would listen. However, be warned... DO NOT PURCHASE Gift Cards, especially if you are gifting to people in other countries! Amazon Gift Cards do not currently transfer or convert to other countries/currencies.