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The Secret to My Manufactured Spending Success

This past weekend I was in Elk Grove Village for the annual Chicago Seminars. I met a lot of readers, bloggers, and newbies who asked me about manufactured spending. The questions that came up the most were, “What is the secret to your manufactured spending success? How are you able to MS in such large quantities?” There isn’t really a secret to this stuff. My #1 tip and the biggest factor that enables me to MS in large numbers is…being nice to people. People generally like people who are nice to them. The same goes for Walmart cashiers. If you act shifty and don’t bother being polite or considerate, then forget about it. That Walmart cashier will enjoy putting you in your place when you pull out a stack of Visa gift cards and try to use them for money order purchases.

This isn’t about being disingenuous or trying to butter people up with compliments. I’m not a sociopath. I don’t like flattery or bull**** either. But I do try to be nice to people – especially those who work in customer service. Make small talk, ask about their day, be pleasant. They deal with rude, condescending a**holes on a daily basis – don’t be one of them.

So many people don’t bother saying “please” or “thank you” – or smiling, for that matter. You have no idea what a difference it makes when you bother to smile at people. It makes them think you’re a nice person and everyone wants to help nice people, right? (Wow, I do sound like a sociopath).

Even during those times when a cashier gets difficult, I try to empathize with them. It takes a lot of patience (that I don’t have) to deal with customers. Can you imagine how much worse it is when those customer are unhappy (which they most likely are if they’re standing in the customer service line)? 

On the rare occasion when a new Walmart cashier gets testy with me about using gift cards and decides to call a manager, my instinct is to get annoyed.

But instead, I respond cheerfully with, “That’s fine! ___ knows me, so I’m sure he’ll approve it.” Sure enough, the manager shows up and gives the green light. The cashier feels somewhat embarrassed, but because I didn’t turn this into a knife fight, she feels ok about brushing it under the rug and helping me out. By remaining friendly, I give her “an out.” In fact, going forward she’ll feel at ease because I didn’t insult her or make her feel bad about her very legitimate concerns.

My MS success really just comes down to my awesome Walmart cashiers and nothing else. I could buy all the gift cards I wanted, but where would I liquidate them if I didn’t have an MS-friendly Walmart? Sure they’re an awesome, friendly bunch of people but if I wasn’t the same way, they probably wouldn’t like or trust me. And that would be that for my gift card churning days.

So be nice. That’s really the key to a successful gift card churning strategy. Treat people with respect, empathize with them when they’re having a bad day, and if you can make things easier for them (i.e. don’t hold up the line, take time to fill out surveys, etc.) then do that. They’ll appreciate it and reciprocate. It’s not about manipulating people – it’s about building relationships. That takes time and effort, but is worth it. Be mean or indifferent like some of the people the cashiers interact with and you’ll get treated the same.

Even if I wasn’t going to Walmart to buy money orders, I would still make an effort to be friendly and polite to the cashiers. Because even if all I’m purchasing is a pack of gum – isn’t it preferable to have a friendly rapport with the staff? I think it is.

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Ariana Arghandewal

16 Comments

  1. It’s surprising any of this needed to be said, but I suppose it did. I wonder if any of it is needed in Dallas, TX, that well-known MS hotspot?

  2. Well said friend! I have been a follower for a long time. Are you still focusing on VGC’s and cashing out at Walmart? Worth the 1%? I have been dabbling in gift card reselling and seems like a lot of work. Not much bang for your buck and the stress of it all:/

    • None but if you had to choose then your best bet would probably be the Freedom Unlimited or Ink (if you have a business).

    • If you have an Ink Plus/Bold that’s an awesome card for MS. Freedom Unlimited is another great choice – it earns 1.5 cash back everywhere but if you have a UR-earning card (i.e. Sapphire Preferred, Reserve, Ink Preferred, etc.) then you can convert your earnings to UR points.

  3. I get back from Chicago and my mailbox is full of envelopes from GC.com. I head to WM and sit in the car activating 15k in the car. I plan to go to the WM that has done 2K, 5K, 7K, etc. for me. The last time here they said my limit would be 3K unless I hand over my ID. I was OK with this, since I needed to get these GC’s converted. I tell them I would like to do $9K and hand them my DL. Their system crashes at 4K and they cancel the order. OK, what about money on my GC. We try this again for $2K with 4 swipes, and each card says invalid format. I ask if they can check their system. I go and sit in one of their chairs and call GC.com. The cards DO have $5K on them. But the store manager shows and tells me he will not let me do Visa gift cards anymore. I ask if he will let someone else and he says yes, but no to me. I have been very nice to everyone through all the problems this store has had. I shared why and how I am doing this. One asst mgr accused me of structuring. I still thanked the store manager and told him all his people had been very nice to me.

    I go to the next furtherest away WM, which has done $2k for me several times. I do $2k there very easy and then ask if I can do more. She tries and then has to call a CS mgr. Another CS mgr. shows up and gets very bossy and wants the money orders and wants to cancel them. Oh crap. I explain you cannot reload these cards. She takes the money order and leaves. 15 min. later another manager shows and hands me the money orders. I now have $13K left to go. I ride 45 minutes to another WM.

    At this WM I run into an Asst Mgr. at the money center. He is nice and we chat a bit. Bada bing, bada bam. He flushed $13K for me with no questions. I even asked if he would get in trouble for this and he said no. However, he was not bashful and asked for a pack of cigs and some wine. Geeze, I would have given him more.

    I have tried being really nice, explaining what I am doing, and I feel I am looked at like someone getting something for nothing and being judged. Even when it does not go well, I do not get mad, and try to be just as nice and thank them for their time. For now, I know where to go to flush a ton of giftcards. I love living in this sleepy little town, but bigger spends on GC’s could be a problem for me.

    • Wow, sorry to hear about your bad experience. It definitely helps if you build up to it. I didn’t buy $10k straight out the gate. I used to go to my WM and just buy $2k at a time and when the cashier and I had built a friendly rapport, I asked if I could do $10k. At one point she did ask me why I was buying so many and when I explained it, she thought it was great. You really have to build trust – esp since there are so many people out there doing this for nefarious reasons.

      • I did start really easy and generally it was $2k per day, except if I had more and the same lady would eager to do more, so I would. Next time it was limited to $2K. But the one guy at the WM doing $13K was surprising and wanted to know when I would be back to see him. If that can be my honey hole I don’t mind driving the 45 minutes there. I did $7K with him and he wanted to know if I had more. I went back to the car and got the rest and he opened up a new line for me while there were 5 people in another line. I just hope he does not get fired. Even wanted me to come to his party at his house that night. I must be a friendly guy.

        It was finally great to meet you in person.
        john

  4. Any idea where to go in the NYC area to liquidate visa gift cards? There aren’t any Walmarts here. I have tried some 7-11s, grocery stores, and CVS (their moneygram charges crazy fees) and have had no luck. Thanks!

  5. When you buy money orders and the ask for the pay to and pay from name, do you give them your name for both places?

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