Thursday, May 26, 2011

Amazon is Global but Their Gift Certificates Are Not

Recently I was pleasantly surprised to receive a gift certificate redeemable at Amazon. However, my happiness was short-lived.

The first clue to potential trouble was that the amount of the gift certificate was £620. It’s not too uncommon for me to get U.S. dollars, but I don’t often receive British pounds. A scan of the gift certificate’s fine print revealed the following:

“ gift certificates ... cannot be redeemed at,,,,”

It’s hard to see a good reason for Amazon to make restrictions like this. Unless delivers to Canada for a reasonable price, this gift certificate won’t do me much good.


  1. I think the shipping rates are reasonable. I know a lot of folks order DVDs and Blu-Rays from Amazon UK, even with shipping to Canada their prices work out to be competitive or better than our prices. Enjoy!

  2. I've had this happen A LOT. Well-meaning family and friends at home in Ireland sending me certs, ie bought from their local site. Most people are totally unaware of the small print, as you put it. You lose a fair amount in shipping for sure, but I wouldn't say it'll do you no good! (Hey, take advantage of buying DVDs of BBC shows or cheaper versions of British novels or buy gifts for fmily over there or something?)

    The other one that's caught me out, and is probably entirely my fault, is somehow ending up at rather than .ca and not noticing throughout the flight buying process.

  3. @Anonymous and @Guinness416: Thanks for giving me the benefit of your experience. I'm more optimistic about making use of the certificate now.

  4. Wow, 620 pounds! Somebody (rich) loves you!

  5. I often order from - sometimes they have obscure items that can't be found on The shipping is reasonable.

    A word of warning: unless you have a region-free player, don't buy dvd's from the UK.

  6. With 620 pounds, shipping shouldn't be an issue - that's over $400 Canadian!

  7. @Jude: Thanks for the warning.

    @Sophie: It's actually about $1000 Canadian. But I'd still prefer not to waste too much of it on shipping. But you're right that it's a good sized gift certificate.

  8. The 19 buck DVD players Canadian Tire sells are typically region-free (although they don't advertise as such).

  9. I accidentally bought a Region 2 DVD off eBay (not my fault, was listed as Region 1). I discovered that the freeware program VLC Media Player can play Region 2 DVDs without any hardware changes, assuming you don't mind watching on a computer, of course.

    Great gift card, indeed. You must have done something good!

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  11. Yes, I experienced this too, all of the Amazon gift certificates seem to work only on the national site they were issued by. I'm the other way round as I'm a Brit who won an Amazon certificate for something I did in Canada then found I can only use it on It's not a complete showstopper as they can all deliver goods internationally - but it does mean a higher delivery charge and possible customs/tax charges, which wouldn't occur if I could use the certificate on The fact that any tax is payable by me in real money when I receive the item kind of takes the shine off winning the certificate as a prize!

  12. Same here. I have tried to use an gift for deliveries in Germany...