$500 gift card mix-up causes frustration

June 22, 2010 7:50:05 PM PDT
Have you ever tried to use a gift card and found there was no value on it? It sometimes happens but there are ways to protect yourself.

A simple mistake at the cash register can cost you a lot of money if you're not watching out. One woman learned that the hard way after she plunked down $500 and got a worthless gift card.

When Sue Cherwin set out to remodel a house, she thought it would be a fairly simple job. However, like so many construction projects, it became very complicated very fast.

"We found the walls didn't go all the way to the floor, for example, and it needed a lot," she said. "They're doing electricity, plumbing, framing, dry walling, everything."

The construction crew had to keep purchasing supplies as they went along. So, Sue came up with a simple way to pay for them. She bought several gift cards from Home Depot, and let the workers use them to buy materials.

"You can use it for money, you don't have to open an account and have their names all over it," she said.

The system worked great until one day in January, when sue purchased four, $500 gift cards. At the register, the cashier noticed two cards were stuck together as one.

The clerk rang up one card and put the other one back then, there was a a mix-up. The clerk accidentally gave Sue the worthless card and the one with $500 on it went back to the shelf. Nobody realized this until one of the workmen tried to buy plumbing supplies.

"He gave them the $500 gift card and they said this gift card is no good. He said, what? I need to buy materials. we have some kind of tight deadlines," Sue said.

Luckily, Sue had kept her receipts. Home Depot traced the gift card numbers, and discovered the mix-up. The store promised her a full refund. However, a month went by, then two months and sue received nothing.

"They had my $500 it was their responsibility to return it," said.

Store managers told Sue they were awaiting approval from headquarters in Atlanta -- several more weeks passed and still no refund.

Sue contacted 7 On Your Side and we called Home Depot. The company promised a replacement gift card was already on its way.

Sure enough within days, Sue had another $500 card -- one that works.

Home Depot says, "It appears this problem began with an unusual fluke, and would normally be corrected rather quickly. Ms. Cherwin did all the right things by keeping her receipt and a record of the gift card number; so we're truly sorry for the inconvenience she experienced with our card processing in Atlanta,"

From then, remodeling went full blast.

"I appreciate that you did it thank you so much," Sue said.

The lesson is, if you buy a gift card it's very important to keep the receipts and a record of gift card numbers. That way even if you lose the card, it's possible to get a replacement.


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