Readers of this blog know that I am a huge fan of buying discount gift cards. When you are going to buy something, either online or in the store, and you have a pretty good idea what the final price is going to be, it makes a lot of sense to visit sites like Raise, Gift Cards.com, and other re-sellers. When you can relatively easily obtain an instant savings of 5-10-15% or more of products and services, it’s a no-brainer math-wise. But, what happens when something goes wrong, and it will, as it did to me recently. Relax, I have got you covered.
First, let’s revisit this topic a bit and unpack my thinking. Gift cards are re-sold for a variety of reasons. 1) Perhaps you got one you didn’t like; 2) Perhaps you used most of the value but want to unload the rest; 3) Perhaps you are buying and selling gift cards as a means to buying points and miles more cheaply than through an airline program. Many reasons. Discount gift cards come in two flavors: “physical” (think plastic) and “virtual” (think emails which you are able to print). When you buy either, you are basing the transactions on the good faith of the re-seller that there’s value on the card. You buy a $100 gift card and you expect $100 to be on that card available to you. Simple, right? Not always.
Problematic discount gift cards
Sometimes, things do go wrong. If a re-seller didn’t verify the value of the transaction when it bought from the seller, they may have been a victim of fraud. Similarly, if a seller used the card after selling it to the re-seller, fraud can occur, too. (All one has to do is copy the card numbers and PIN and then use the card online, for example). Or, technologically, a virtual gift card may not have loaded the value correctly on the card that it sent you electronically. Totally possible.
Customer service to the rescue
In my case, as soon as I realized a problem occurred with a major outdoor retailer’s gift card not showing any value, I immediately contacted the re-seller’s customer service address. It’s a very good sign of a reputable company when they use a resolution service like Zendesk. As soon as you file a complaint, a ticket is opened up and customer service begins addressing your issue. In my case, I received a few notes back, with my complaint number, and a series of messages acknowledging the issue. A few days later, a final note to me indicating that a refund was coming. Happy customer!
The lessons here are these – there are many tools out there to help you save money, but occasionally you will run into some sort of issue. It’s important to be patient, but dilligent. As for future discount gift card purchases, I am going to keep doing so, but will only buy from those companies that I feel are reputable.