Gift Card May Be Empty

Gift Card May Be Empty

Gift Card May Be Empty blog post by Ken Walker Writer. Pictured: A cash card in a card reader being held by a hand pushing a green button.We received a gift card last Christmas season, which we immediately used for a dinner out to celebrate my wife’s birthday.

With more than $48 left on the balance, we decided to use it again for our anniversary dinner six weeks later.

Despite a great meal, our delight turned to disappointment when our water returned, handed me the card, and said, “There’s only $3 left on it.”

Afterwards, I talked with a friend who had had a similar experience to ask what I should do. He advised calling the toll-free number on the back of the card and wade through the phone tree.

I did and finally reached a pleasant woman who took my fraud report, apologized for the inconvenience, and said an investigation would be opened.

Fixing the Problem  

A month or so later, I received a new card in the mail. Enclosed with it: a letter saying their investigation determined that an error had occurred. A credit of $45.03 had been posted to my account.

However, when I called the toll-free number to register the card, I learned it still only had a $3 balance. Obviously, the $45.03 had never been credited.

I tried to reach a live person on that call to ask about it, but without succeeding. So I stuck the letter on a corner of my desk, planning to tend to it later.

A month later on a quiet Friday afternoon, I called the number again.

After another lengthy wait, I finally connected with a person. She placed me on hold several times; during the last wait, the phone went dead. I waited for about 10 minutes and hung up.

Fleeced Again

While that was my first unpleasant experience with gift cards, it wasn’t the last.

In late April, I received a $25 gift card, a bonus from our insurance plan for meeting certain exercise and health goals.

A couple weeks later on a shopping trip, my wife pulled out her bank card to pay for a few items.

“You don’t need that,” I said. “I’ve got $25 on this card.”

Pictured: A man pulling out empty pockets.I handed it to the clerk, expecting to have nearly $17 left after the purchase.

“That will be $1.78,” she said.

“Why?” I replied. “That was a $25 card.”

“There was only $8.02 on it,” she said.

We explained that this card had been sitting unused in a drawer since we got it. But we told her we understood; this had happened before.

“Hold, Please”

It took about a month to find the time to call the company about this latest fraud.

When I did, a recording told me I qualified for a free medical gizmo. I said I didn’t want a free gizmo; I wanted to ask a question about fraud.

When the recorded voice kept babbling, I hung up. I went online and waded through the high-tech version of a phone tree, bouncing between various menus and options.

At one point, I discovered a different phone number that could be used to report fraud and abuse.

“Ah, hah,” I thought. When I dialed it, I got the same recording I had encountered originally.

I finally surrendered, figuring it was going to take more than $17 worth of my time to resolve the problem.

Soon after this maddening experience, we went to see a couple celebrating a special anniversary.

I had considered giving them a gift card to their favorite restaurant.

Instead, I told my wife, “Let’s give them cash. It will be good anywhere.”

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