That’s partly because I buy so many that it seems like a lot of work. But mainly it’s because I always assumed the discount gift card sites are trustworthy — and they are. But the people who sell the GCs to those sites? Well, I should’ve been skeptical.
Which is what went through my mind on date night. Specifically, when the waiter told us that our $100 gift card had a $0 balance.
I was pretty sure we hadn’t used the GC before, but I checked the transaction history just to be safe. Turns out there was a single transaction: a $100 transfer off the card. Coincidentally, it took place a few days after I purchased it.
I’m guessing the seller was waiting til the buyer received the card and checked the balance. Then sneakily got the value transferred away from the card, presumably to a different GC.
I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal. I just needed to contact the site I used for the purchase. But when I did, I discovered the guarantee was only 45 days. By the time I contacted them, it’d been more than two months.
Customer service told me that they were unable to retrieve the payment. Thus they couldn’t return my money.
Let me be clear: I don’t blame the site.
The time limit on the guarantee is prominently displayed on the site and, I’m pretty sure, in a note with the actual gift card. So this was on me. I shouldn’t have put blind faith in the process, especially since it relies on people playing by the rules. And there are always a few bad apples. Or gift cards, in this case.
So yeah, this was my fault — monetarily, anyway. In the grand scheme of things, it’s the fault of the asshat who cheated. But I didn’t act responsibly, which means the problem was ultimately of my own making.
Disheartened at losing $70.50, I decided to go into customer service speak in the hopes of getting a courtesy exception. Customer service speak means:
- Accepting culpability for not reading the fine (or in this case not-so-fine) print
- Asking for a courtesy exception, but
- Acknowledging that they absolutely don’t have to give it to you
- Point to your history with/enthusiasm for the company (preferably that you recommend it to tons of people)
- And most importantly, never, ever, ever saying you’re “entitled” to anything
In this case I got very lucky, probably because we’ve done a ton of business with the site in the past 14 months. Thanks to the donut hole, we’ve spent $1,200 alone on (15% off!) CVS gift cards.* We’ve purchased a lot of other GCs too: pet stores, fast food, Netflix, Walgreens, etc.
In other words, it was a good bet that the site would more than make its money back. Not everyone will be so lucky, so take heed of my tale of (almost) woe and check every discount GC you buy.
Have you ever been burned by a discounted gift card?
*In four months. Stupid coverage gap.