San Francisco woman files claim with postal service over missing gift card

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A San Francisco woman did all she could to safeguard a gift she was mailing. But when her gift went missing, her claim went nowhere.

Rita Viale sent a nice graduation gift to her nephew in Alabama. "Congratulations you graduated high school and here's a little money," she wrote in a card.

She put a $500 Visa gift card inside the greeting card that he never received. "He said 'great card, but there's nothing in there,"' Viale said.

The envelope arrived, but the $500 gift card was missing. "He took pictures and scanned them and sent them," Viale said.

The photos show the envelope had been torn open, taped with postal tape and marked with postal stamps. "So it was obvious it had been tampered with. Somebody ripped it out and it's been stolen," she said.

Luckily Viale had sent it by registered mail and insured it for $500. She filed a claim with the post office. "And I said 'this is what happened.' They said we'll take care of it," Viale said.

However, no one responded to her claim, so Viale kept calling the postal managers. "They said, 'oh paperwork, red tape. It has to be inspected, looked into and studied,"' Viale said.

A whole year went by and there was still no response. "It's not fair. It's not right. What's the point of having insurance or registering?" she said.

And that's when Viale contacted 7 On Your Side. The postal service told Viale she never filed a claim. But after 7 On Your Side pointed out the claim was there, Viale got a call. "Oh we have good news. It finally came through," a postal service employee said.

The U.S. Postal Service released a statement saying: "Due to an administrative oversight during management changes, the registered mail inquiry was not processed. Once district leadership was advised of the situation they took action to accept the claim and make the customer whole."

A postal worker stopped by to visit Viale and delivered her two checks totaling $500. "Thank you, I'm just thrilled, it's a lot of money," she said.

The postal service told 7 On Your side that $500 gift card remains lost, so it's not clear what happened to it.

If you mail a gift card, remember it's like putting cash in the mail, so anybody can use it.
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