Last week was a pretty crappy week on all fronts and to top it all off, things went south in terms of manufactured spending. My Wells Fargo card got shut down for literally no reason. I barely took advantage of the 5% cash back bonus – I may have generated $600 or so before going on my trip to Europe and then I did a few rounds when I got back. I lost about $150 in cash back rewards and no explanation was given. At this point it’s spilled milk – people have real problems and when stuff like this happens, you put it in its appropriate compartment and move forward.
On Thursday, I was making my usual local Walmart rounds when I ran into a bit of trouble. You know that one Neighborhood Walmart store I wrote about months ago? The one with the super stringent money center rep who checked the cards I used and wouldn’t accept any “debit” cards that weren’t issued by an actual bank? Well I thought that location was safe to return to after a successful visit a few weeks ago, but when I tried to pay for my money orders with multiple gift cards, the newbie cashier seemed unsure and called over a colleague.
That’s when I was informed that their new store policy was not to accept multiple payment forms for money order purchases. One of her colleagues standing nearby asked, “Really? Why?” And she responded with, “Remember when the FBI came in here last week and audited our money orders? They told us to stop accepting multiple gift cards because of people who use them for fraud.” She then proceeded to explain how people buy these gift cards to “get money off stolen credit cards” and then liquidate them via money orders. Of course, I knew this was a somewhat common scam, but it kind of surprised me that they’re just now catching onto it and making an effort to combat it.
I told her that not everyone who does that is committing fraud – in fact, a lot of people buy Visa gift cards with credit cards to earn frequent flyer miles. The rep said that may be true, but they had a lot of cases of fraud at this store and after the visit from the FBI, they implemented this new policy. It’s pretty damn annoying that because of these a**holes our manufactured spending activities are being limited, but ultimately we can’t do anything about it, so we’ll have to just plow forward and find new places to liquidate our gift cards. Unfortunately, this makes two Walmart locations that are now restricting gift card usage for money order purchases. On top of this, my other reliable Walmart location is having major issues with their register and anytime I purchase an amount requiring more than two card swipes, the register acts up.
I still have a couple of other options, but they’re spread far apart, making it difficult to follow a cohesive manufactured spending route. I could drive an hour out of town and liquidate around $50,000 worth of gift cards easily, but that’s not something I can do daily. I think going forward I’ll just stockpile gift cards purchased from giftcards.com via cash back portals like Yazing and make a once weekly trip out of town to liquidate them. Or maybe it’s time to put that manufactured spending travel idea into action for a high-volume manufactured spending/vacation combo.
My dream scenario? Simon Mall will start a financial services division and start selling money orders in the same customer service office where they practically reward you for buying gift cards in large quantities. Until then, I just have to keep adapting to stay in the game.
There was one positive thing that happened last week when I was visiting one of the locations that are restricting money order purchases to one transaction. After paying for the money orders, the register printed out the receipt but the money order machine got jammed and then stopped working. The cashier had to void the transaction reimburse me…in cash! I was pretty relieved because things have been going downhill and I needed at least one win.
Have you had trouble with your local Walmart restricting the number of debit cards that can be used for money order purchases? Please share in the comment section.
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