Customer complaints about prepaid cards have been increasing over the last six months. In fact, the number of complaints on Pissed Consumer have snowballed. The first review on Rushcard appears on Pissed Consumer four years ago. An average of 13 reviews about the prepaid card were made each month in the first nine months of the year.

And then October came. Looking at customer complaints, it seems Rushcard’s computer system went down on October 13. In the span of three days – October 13 through October 15 – Pissed Consumer saw over 700 reviews posted about Rushcard. In the weeks since that time, the total number of reviews about Rushcard have increased to 1,200. All since October 13. Something is not right in the world of prepaid bank cards.

When they work correctly, prepaid cards can be a financial lifesaver for those who aren’t able to take advantage of traditional banks and banking accounts. Some prepaid cards act in much the same way banks do offering customers the option to directly deposit paychecks and other funds onto the card that can then be used in almost any way a credit card can.

Of course, sometimes things don’t work correctly. When customers start complaining that “My direct deposit has not shown up yet, over 24 hours later than normal” (review #716829) there’s cause for concern. But when seven hundred people are saying something similar, it starts to sound rather serious indeed.

The problems individuals are having aren’t isolated to just a single company. The issues customers are complaining about with Rushcard are strikingly similar to an issue that evolved with Reloadit, another prepaid card company, in the summer of 2015. Customer complaints on Pissed Consumer describe tremendous frustration with the Reloadit website and the inability to load funds onto the cards. Customers describe their experience as “the worst experience” (review #690448) and complained that customer service is “absolutely pathetic, extremely inept and powerless” (review #658887).

The Case of the Missing Money

Among the most troubling concerns is missing money. Customers check their balance on the card or account, but when they go to spend the funds, the available balance is reduced and transactions are denied. Complaints describe their situations as being “overcharged $100 at gas station” and “duplicate charges that already posted now showing up again as ‘pending’” (review #719210). Perhaps worst of all, one irate customer explains that “No one will answer the customer service phone, it just hangs up on me” (review #716829).

One woman explains in her review that she checked her balance at home and had $176 available. When she tried to use her card to pay at a store she was declined. She tried to remove the funds as cash at an ATM, but was told she only had a balance of $76. When she got home and checked again to try to sort the situation out, she was down to a zero balance – all without spending anything from the account. She claims the funds simply disappeared from her account without explanation (review #718662).

Hers is not the only story like this. Others include stories of gas money disappearing at the pump and balances simply winding up zero without any transactions to reduce funds. Others can’t even get through to an automated system or a customer service representative to find out their balances at all, making customers very concerned about where exactly their money is going.

Troubles with System Upgrades

While some appear to be missing their funds after loading them, others can’t seem to use their cards at all. Customers complain of buying the reloadable cards at the store and then trying to load funds. They quickly find out that they either can’t load the funds, the card isn’t recognized or that they are going to have to wait days or perhaps weeks for activation.

When customers call customer service about their concerns, they are told by the company that “they were in the process of reworking their website, and that everyone was experiencing these same problems” (review #656134). Customers – especially those who have funds trapped on the cards – aren’t finding this particularly reassuring. Complaints range from customers spending hours to days trying to load funds before they realize it’s simply never going to happen.

The Biggest Complaint of All

Still others are caught in a particularly tricky spot. One man sums it up well when he posted that “It is now 7am on my payday, my direct deposit is STILL NOT THERE!” An update the next day reinforced the dire situation by claiming the funds still weren’t in despite the fact that the he would usually “get my direct deposit every Tuesday for over a year now” but now “Rush has over $600 of my money and I can't even put gas in my car!” (review #716829).

Not only are direct deposit funds never arriving the first time, but many customers are trapped in a messier spot because the same prepaid card that is giving a customer trouble is due to be replenished again with another direct deposit.

Imagine the frustration of one customer who had trouble with her prepaid card, realized the implications of her pending direct deposit, tried to cancel it and realized she was too late.

Her entire direct deposit, perhaps even her whole paycheck will be deposited to a card where her previous balance evaporated inexplicitly in a matter of hours (review #716398). Needless to say, she is beyond irate with the entire situation. Worse, she is certainly not alone.