Help! My Target gift card has gone missing

Question: I have a problem with Target that I’m hoping you can help me with. I have been waiting for an electronic gift card to be sent to my grandson for the last three weeks. I’ve made two phone calls and sent an email to Target, but they will not tell me when the card will arrive. I think there’s a serious problem.

Can you give me a name and phone number of a senior executive in customer service at Target? Or better yet, could you help me get that gift card? Thank you. — Robert Brown, Grand Haven, Mich.

Answer: You ordered a Target e-GiftCard for your grandson, which is a basic gift card minus the plastic. You can find the terms and conditions of the card on Target’s site, which are pretty interesting, even if you’re just an average customer. Among the zingers: Regardless of the stated cash value of the card, it has a cash value is 1/10 of one cent.

I’d love to see someone try to redeem that!

I mention the terms because nowhere in them does Target guarantee it will sent a purchased e-GiftCard to a customer within a set amount of time. It could just pocket your money and send your grandson the certificate when he graduates from high school. Not that it would, but it could.

Calling Target was a good first step, and following up with an email was even better. You need a paper trail because you may have to prove that you’ve done your best to fix a problem later on. The correspondence will prove it. Only Target records your phone calls — for “quality assurance” purposes, I’m sure.

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Target’s advertising promises its e-GiftCard’s are a “faster” way of purchasing store credit, but not for you or your grandson. It’s unclear what caused the delay. It might have been a glitch in Target’s system or it’s possible that you gave the company an incorrect email address. Target wouldn’t say.

If emails sent through the Target website aren’t doing the trick, you might want to appeal this to an executive. I’d send a quick email to Kathryn Tesija, Target’s executive vice president of merchandising. I’m sure she’d be more than happy to help you. Her email address is

I contacted Target on your behalf and it issued a new gift card six hours later.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at Read more of Christopher's articles here.

  • Joe Reimers

    Actually, I’m one of those who tends to stay away from gift cards: I much prefer an actual gift or cash (if all else fails, go with a non-expiring pre-loaded Visa or Amex.) But gift cards are essentially nothing but interest-free loans given to the parent corporation, and if those corporations go belly-up, you’re out of luck.

  • BillCCC

    After reading their terms and conditions I don’t think that I will ever be buying one of their cards. On the other hand it was probably a glitch in their system.

    Why does the e-card take any more than a few seconds to be delivered? The CC payment comes out right away. It is all electronic.

  • emanon256

    I could not agree more!!

  • RITom

    In Rhode Island, we have a law that says, Gift Cards NEVER EXPIRE. So that Gift Card that I bought in 1950 from Sears is still worth $5, but can Sears verify that it is good? Sometimes we need to know the law when you we are shopping here as merchantants say the expire. But they can still charge you fees for these cards, which will bring the value down to ZERO. Some places, like Warwick Mall, now charge a $1.00 processing fee for their paper gift certificates. Simon Malls visa gift card charge a $3.95 monthly inactivity fee after 12 months. AND there is a prucahse fee paid by the giver. Sometimes it is just better to give a check!

  • Miami510

    The days
    where cash was gauche is anachronistic.

    Green is everyone’s color.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I had a similar experience in June with a catalog company that is friendly to musicians, trying to give a gift certificate to my daughter-in-common-law in NYC for her birthday. It wasn’t delivered as promised. I e-mailed the company 3 times over the course of the next week, per Chris’ general advice to keep everything in writing. The e-mails were ignored. So I started calling every other day and would advise the person answering of the e-mails (“See order number 12345 correspondence”) and then add the pertinent details of my prior phone conversations (“Spoke to Joe at your ___ location on Monday, June 25th at 5:03 p.m.”). The third time I called, I said that if this wasn’t resolved in 24 hours from my call, that I would initiate a credit card dispute. I was put on hold; the representative came back and said that the amount had been re-deposited to my credit card. Checking my online statement the next day, I saw that it was. This process took 3 weeks to resolve. The replacement check I sent was there in 2 days, cashed the next and *wasn’t* spent with the company.
    I had never had a problem with this company before, so believe it was a one time glitch, as I voted was this Target e-GiftCard case. I vaguely remember a joke that went “To err is human; to really foul things up you need a computer”.

  • Never never never mail gift cards – I did this and they were stolen and used the very day they were stolen from the mail box – even though my daughter had her mail on hold. I had insured them too. The post office would only pay 1/2 of the amount of the gift cards and I think the only reason they did that is because they knew the mail was supposed to be held. Supposedly, you can mail them and they record the number of the gift card now, but I would not even trust that.Dealing with the Post Office on this took more than a yr. I kid you not. I never talked to a real person it was all done by letters. I would bet you a lot a Post Office person stole them too.

  • Chris Johnson

    I am posting a standard “I thought this was a travel website” post.

  • I never used to like the idea of gift cards until I received one as a graduation gift eons ago. Walking into the store knowing that I could buy ANYTHING I wanted that was $25 or less had me giddy.

    If I were to give a gift card, I’d actually want to give a physical card, though. Makes it seem like it’s something tangible even though it’s really cash. Yes, it’s an interest free loan to the company, but then again, that $25 or $50 isn’t going to be earning me a lot of interest anyway…

  • $16635417

    In this case, was she even charged?

  • 1pop

    Fast, clean, easy…with a paper receipt on the spot: I often buy gift cards for my grandchildren at the supermarket…they have a large selection and there is no mark-up(“service charge”) Of course, I incur a 45¢ postage cost, but since I’m sending a card, anyway…

  • 1pop

    …you haven’t been following the site very closely…it’s now more of a consumer advocate site…

  • Jackal 1013

    Well, the problem with those preloaded Visa cards is that they can affect your credit if you don’t follow the fine print. Usually there is a monthly fee to keep the card’s balance available to use. This steadily diminishes the card’s value if it’s not used all at once. Also, if you use the entire balance you now have a Visa card that is “maxed out.” You have to call the issuing company and have them officially close your account. Otherwise they will keep applying monthly fees until you do, which on your credit makes it look like you are racking up fees on an overdrawn card. So if you are not terribly careful and treat a preloaded Visa like it’s a gift card, it can come back to bite you. I try to stay away from those things. At least gift cards just expire. :)

  • IGoEverywhere

    Didn’t you post this last week. Cancel the card on the credit card charge, it was not delivered.

  • MarkKelling

    The preloaded gift card is not attached to you. The issuing bank has no idea who has it. The person buying it also does not have any atttachment to it. When the fees take it to zero, it closes. This has no impact on anyones credit rating.

    This is not to be confused with the RE LOADABLE cards like many government agencies issue and some companies provide their employees for payroll. Those do have credit report impact if you keep it “maxed out” by drawing all the funds off of it. But then most people who get these don’t have that great of credit anyway.

  • y_p_w

    I don’t like a lot of these systems. Someone tried sending me money through some sort of “quick pay” system. I thought it would be quick, like just sending my checking account and routing numbers for a direct transfer. It turned out that I had to “verify” by account either by allowing them to access my online account (didn’t work through several tries) or let them deposit and withdraw small amounts where I would verify by entering these amounts. It took about four or five days before the money was sent to my account.

    A check would have arrived in one day.

  • The first time an online payment system is used it is a PITA. However, afterwards, it can be a godsend. Money is instantly creditted to your online account and usually in your bank account within one business day. And barring disputes, you don’t have to worry about the check bouncing.
    I have international clients. I took a check from Singapore once. It was good, but it took 6 weeks before it “cleared”. With the online system, no more foreign issues.

  • Extramail

    Cash is the answer – forever how much longer cash even exists. Why limit your gift to one store? I much prefer the giftee be able to buy whatever he wants at whatever store he wants whenever he wants.

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