Stupid gift card policies.

Gift cards. Either you love them, or you hate them, or both. I’m in the “both” category.

Gift cards make great gifts. Makes sense. Why give someone a Captain and Tennille CD when you can just give them a gift card, and let them pick out the American Idol Season 2 CD that they really want.

I’ve got a couple of problems with gift cards, though, and I’m going to use two specific stores as examples of bad gift card policies.

Best Buy
Best Buy sells a boatload of gift cards. At the moment, I am on hold because of my specific issue with Best Buy gift cards. They will sell you gift cards online all day long. The problem: Best Buy gift cards are not an acceptible form of payment at Best Buy’s online store.

Right now, there is a product at Best Buy that I would like to order (this). It’s $20, and I have a $20 gift card. Unfortunately, the item is not stocked locally, and I’m not driving to Florida to get one.

So, emailed Best Buy from their website. Their unhelpful supposed customer service agent was– big surprise– unhelpful. “Paula” didn’t read my first email, and opted to send me a generic form email that didn’t even come close to addressing my question. I responded that I didn’t appreciate the fact that I waited two days for a waste-of-time form email, and that I would like my question answered.

The question is simple: Can I go to Best Buy with my gift card and order the item directly from them, since gift cards are not valid online. It seems to make sense.

Well, she then actually responded, and she punted. She recommended that I call the store.

I have been on hold now for over 45 minutes to talk to my local Best Buy store!

If this jerk tells me one more time that Best Buy “appreciates my call” and then suggests I will be a “hero” if I purchase Best Buy gift cards for my friends and family so they may “pick out the fun stuff themselves,” I’m going to go insane.

I do take some comfort in knowing that Best Buy’s days are limited. Their service is subpar, their salespeople know very little about salesmanship, their prices are relatively high compared to online resources, and their selection is mediocre at best. Best Buy will go the way of Blockbuster (give it a few years– Blockbuster will be busted).

Note to family members: Please don’t get me Best Buy gift cards anymore. Visa gift cards are much more usable. Thanks :)

Kohl’s

Kohl’s suffers from similar problems as Best Buy, but they compound it to make the process of receiving a Kohl’s gift card even more excrutiating.

First, they charge fees. If you receive a Kohl’s gift card and don’t use it, they dock the card $1.50 a month! What a scam!

We received a $50 gift card several years back. We were never able to use the card, however, because our nearest Kohl’s is over 100 miles away. Kohl’s, of course, did not accept gift cards online up until recently.

I checked their site and it said they now accept gift cards online! Alright, I though– I can finally spend this $50. Well, the $50 gift is now only worth $38.50. Apparently, Kohl’s needed to charge us 23% of the total gift. That’s ridiculous. The gift was $50 and they have been earning interest on the money for two years. Why make the gift recipient pay to loan Kohl’s money? It’s another scam.

So, anyway, I go through their site full of mediocre-quality merchandise, and I find a couple of items I want. I add them to my cart, sign up to be spammed, and proceed to checkout.

But wait!! My gift card doesn’t have a “pin.” That means I can’t use it online.

Kohl’s solution? Well, I emailed them two days ago, and they haven’t responded. Go figure. Their website recommends that I simply take my Kohl’s gift card to my nearest Kohl’s, and they will exchange it for one with a pin.

This is where I would insert the :huh: or the :blink: emoticon. That policy is just idiotic. Congratulations, Kohl’s, you have successfully lost my business for life. I will never shop at Kohl’s, just like I have not shopped at Target for over 5 years. If profit is more important than service, you lose customers. I exemplify this.

I’m still on hold with Best Buy. Over an hour now to get a human on the phone at my local Best Buy. Bad business! Bad, bad business! Once my gift card is used, I will be closing my Best Buy credit card, and recommend that all of my customers wait the extra day to order their computer parts from a reputable merchant like NewEgg. So long, Best Buy!

Mike

2 thoughts on “Stupid gift card policies.

  1. So after holding for over an hour yesterday, I finally got a hold of a customer service agent. I asked if I could do a “customer fulfillment” on the item I wanted, and she asked for the SKU#. I was locating it, and she said, “Hold on for a second.” She set the phone down.

    17 minutes later, I hung up. If there is one thing that is worse than listening to the crap music that always seems to be blaring out of the stereo displays at Best Buy, it’s listening to that same music over the phone while you hear the customer service representative help customers who are not you.

    I called back, and dialed the extension for appliances. They’re always dead over there. I asked who was the active manager, and I was told it was Jake. I asked to be transferred to him.

    Jake came on the line and asked what he could do to help. I explained that I have spent over an hour and a half trying to get a simple yes or no answer to a simple question. I asked if he would be willing to personally answer the question for me, and he said he was. He looked up my item, and said it was out of stock, but definitely orderable. I confirmed again that I could use my gift card for purchasing an out-of-stock item, and he confirmed this.

    So, I had a bit of free time on my way home this afternoon, and I decided to get it over with. I went back by the clock radios, and saw that they actually had one. It was an open box model, though. They had given the incredible open box discount of a buck– 5%. I opened it up (it was already open box), and saw that it was just the clock in a box. No manual, warranty card, etc. Surely they could do better than a 5% discount on an item that had no manual or registration card.

    I grabbed the clock and headed to the counter. The very pleasant lady there asked how she could help me, and I positioned it like this: I told her that I called yesterday about this clock, and spoke with Jake about getting one ordered. I told her that they had this one, but it had no manual, warranty card, etc. I told her that I’d buy it without that stuff, but would want a bit better of a deal on it. I stated that for $14.99, I’d buy it right now, or the other option was to have her help me order the clock through customer fulfillment.

    Discounting the price must be easier to do, because she accepted my proposed price, and sold me the clock. That is right…

    I haggled with Best Buy on a $20 clock!!

    This clock is very nice, actually. Two alarms, digital tuner, auto-DST, auto dimming, big blue numbers, and a jog dial for setting the time. Highly recommended.

    Mike

  2. I have been surprisingly pleased with Amazon Online gift certificates. My father has given my family an Amazon gift card the past two Christmas’s. Their business and a large variety of suscribing businesses qualify. So I get to shop around their list for the best price. It may not be perfect but it is better than one store and you don’t have to go out.

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