a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Buyer Beware

A few weeks before Christmas, to make Christmas shopping for my brother and sister and their families easier, I bought them what I gave them last year -- a family day out.

Essentially, a $100 American Express gift card, and a camera to take photos of whatever they do with it.

It worked so well last year that when I mentioned switching to actual gifts this year, they said no, that they liked the "family fun day" idea instead.

So I went down to my local Vons, and bought two $100 American Express gift cards, which are cool because they can be used anywhere.

Fast forward a few months. My sister, who lives in Connecticut, finally goes to use hers -- and they tell her it was reported stolen. So she sends it back to me, to try and get things sorted out.

I contact my brother in Alaska, asking him to check his. He finally does, and finds that inside the $100 gift card packaging is a $50 gift card, and when he checks it online it tells him that there is $2.13 on it.

What. The. Fuck.

He eventually sent his gift card back, and I took it back to Vons, and they are trying to take care of it, though they weren't happy to see me. Why not?

Because they'd already had to deal with a ton of similar incidents. Just in this one Vons.

So I don't know what's going on, but there seems to have been a screw-up of epic proportions somewhere, though I haven't heard of any mentions of it anywhere.

Hopefully it'll get straightened out, and I'll get my cash back.

Beware when you buy any sort of gift card, though, particularly American Express. And save every receipt you get (I didn't, and it is complicating things).

Meanwhile, I'll be sending out checks next year.


At 7:29 PM, Blogger Tom said...

As someone who works in retail, let me just say "Holy S__t!" What a nightmare. It's got to be a scam one of their employees pulled. The statistics say anywhere from 60 - 80 percent of retail loss is due to dishonest employees. If they had a way of keeping the Amex card number once activated, look out, the free money train just rolled up at Vons.

At 10:15 PM, Anonymous chris soth said...

Check under "gift cards" -- I think people (scam artists, employees or not...) are writing down the card numbers when they're still on the rack, calling the 800 numbers after the cards are bought to see how much is left on the balance, then USING the card numbers for CNP ("Card Not Present") transactions, probably while they're still in the mail to your friends/family...or sitting under the xmas tree or in a stocking...

That said...what a great and thoughtful present AND it's the camera that makes it, w/them sending the pictures to you...everyone's a winner.

Hope it works out soon and for the best.


At 9:29 PM, Blogger Guillermo said...

Around Christmas time all four of the local tv news (and I think CNN as well) stations ran stories about this I recall even the Times ran a story (I think, though it could've been the weekly) which according to police sources placed blame on a couple of local gangs with national ties.

At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They said that a safe bet is to ask for cards stocked 'behind the counter.'

At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is some version of what Chris says, someobody unsealed it, used it, and repackaged it somehow... someone once did that to me on a jar of peanut butter but that's a whole other story


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