I’ve written at length about the importance of being organized and keeping track of gift card churning activities. In the past, I’ve always thought of this as a way to ensure that I didn’t lose any gift cards or on the rare chance that someone would steal them. I didn’t realize how not-rare that occurrence would be until two readers reached out to me in a 2-month period, letting me know it had happened to them. While I have always emphasized the importance of keeping track of everything, I didn’t bring up the possibility of gift cards being stolen en-route and I think that’s important to keep in mind.
Reader Ivan reached out to me back in February regarding the theft of his Giftcards.com order. After not receiving $2,500 worth of gift cards in the mail, he found that the last place it had been tracked to was the U.S. Post Office. This lead him to believe that someone at the post office had intercepted and effectively stolen his gift cards. Ivan tried to resolve the issue with GiftCards.com, but they stated it was out of their hands since the balance on those cards had already been spent. Ivan has since filed a dispute with American Express, which generally has a great reputation when it comes to handling fraud-related disputes.
At the time this happened, I wanted to write a post about it but Ivan said he wanted to wait until it was resolved. American Express has issued him a temporary credit and the merchant has a few more weeks to respond to his dispute.
Following this report, I got another message from a reader named Stephen, who messaged me on Facebook, saying he had a similar incident. Except, this time it was a $1800 Staples Visa gift card order that had gone missing. Stephen reached out to Staples and once again, they were uncooperative. A Gift Card Mall rep had advised him to file a dispute with his credit card company. When he conveyed this to a Staples customer service representative, they called Staples to open a support ticket. There’s no resolution yet, but I imagine the credit card company is the most reliable arbiter in this scenario.
I’m finding it astounding that these merchants sell cash-equivalent gift cards but offer no recourse to customers whose purchases end up stolen. That’s especially surprising since these companies are well aware of the many types of fraud involving Visa gift card purchases. It’s one thing for Staples to essentially turn a blind eye to it, but companies like giftcards.com and Gift Card Mall should really be better prepared to handle or even prevent these types of thefts.
Staples’ Visa gift cards are issued by Gift Card Mall, which sends cards and activation codes in separate envelopes. However, if someone gets a hold of the gift cards (a neighbor or crooked post office employee), it’s actually not that hard for them to get them activated. I know for a fact that Gift Card Mall reps will sometimes activate cards even if customers can’t produce the order number. That’s great if you’re a legitimate customer who has a gift card that didn’t activate properly, but not if you’ve had your mailbox raided. To make things more confusing, Staples and Gift Card Mall issue two different order numbers, making it almost impossible to match up orders for customers who are buying them frequently. How do you know which $1800 Staples order number matches up with the stack of envelopes you just got in the mail? It’s a guessing game.
Anyway, in these instances both individuals were able to catch these thefts by properly keeping track of their gift card purchases. I don’t know what the statistics are on gift card thefts, but even if the likelihood is very small, it could happen to you. That’s why it’s so important to track everything, keep notes on which credit card was used, and have the time to follow up when orders don’t come through in time.
Has anything like this ever happened to you? Did you successfully recoup your miles?
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