Cheated by

Even though Neiman Marcus promises Julia Lee a $125 gift card, it doesn’t arrive. Now, the retailer says it’s expired. What gives?

Question: Last year, I made a purchase at and was supposed to receive a $125 gift card 6 to 8 weeks afterwards.

Two months later, I called to inquire about the status of the card, and was told that the card would be issued via email “in a few weeks.”

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After two months more, I called again and spoke to two representatives, Doug and Jasmine, which are apparently fake names, because now I’m told these persons do not exist. “Doug” told me that the promotional card was emailed to me two months ago. I checked all of my email folders and there was never any email from detailing the issuance of this gift card.

When I relayed this information to “Doug,” he verbally gave me the gift card number, but with the caveat that it expired in less than two weeks. I told him that it would not be possible for me to find something to purchase at in that short time period. He said, “No worries; just call back when you’re ready, and we can reissue the card anytime.”

Well, I called back today because I have decided to make a purchase. Imagine my rude surprise when the customer service agent, Danny, told me that my card had expired and that “Neiman Marcus will not reissue it at all because you’re past the time frame.”

This is unacceptable. Neiman Marcus never sent me the initial gift card in a timely fashion. Then, one of its agents assured me that I had “plenty of time” to use the promotional gift card, only to find out that the card is expired and I have no recourse.

The agent today even told me that I’m not the only one. He said that “it happens to a lot of our customers.” I cannot believe that Neiman Marcus is now cheating customers. This is poor customer service, to say nothing of deceptive advertising. — Julia Lee, Hemet, Calif.

Answer: Neiman Marcus should have sent you the gift card when it promised. Now, it’s hard to say who’s at fault here. The card should have been emailed, and as you probably know, email isn’t the most reliable way to send information. It can get hung up on the sender’s side or stuck in your spam filter.

Then again, it’s possible Neiman Marcus failed to send your electronic gift card at all. If agents are telling you that you’re “not the only one,” then chances are it was something on the company’s side and not simply a wayward email that became entangled in your spam folder.

Regarding the reps with fake names, call centers tend to have high turnover rates, so “Doug” and “Jasmine” might have actually worked there at one time. The trick is to get either an ID number, station number or extension the next time you call, so they can track down the right person if necessary.

Also, I’m willing to bet your calls were recorded “for quality assurance purposes,” which means Neiman Marcus is well aware of your frustrations. But what will it do to help?

I list the names, numbers and emails of the retailer’s top executives on my site. I encouraged you to send a written appeal to the company, and to escalate it to the managers.

This is actually my favorite kind of case, because it shows the system works. You went through the system and reported back, “Since I filed my complaint, Neiman Marcus has sent me a new gift card and resolved my issue.”

I love a happy ending!

This story originally appeared Aug. 5, 2015.

7 thoughts on “Cheated by

  1. Glad it worked out in the end and they got a new card. But out of curiosity what was the expiration timeline on this card? Because the letter suggests the card was only good for either 2 or 4 months neither of which I’ve ever heard of. (After 4 months she was told they’d issued the card 2 months prior but it was expiring in a couple weeks. Meaning if it was a new issuance it’d be a roughly 2-month window or roughly 4 if the clock had started at the very beginning.)

    I suppose the ~2 month window could be 90-days but even that is awfully short for a gift card of any kind, particularly when they tell you it will take a few weeks to receive it. Or was it an offer code of some sort that expired on a particular date? The timeline just doesn’t make much sense.

    1. I just got a MasterCard debit card as a rebate payment. It expires in three months. They don’t really emphasize that when you go for the rebate. But at least I got it….

      1. But a MasterCard can be used practically anywhere for anything — buy lunch, gas for the car, weekly groceries, etc .I got a Visa card with a similar expiry date, but it was for a small amount so was easy to spend quickly. A store specific gift card not so much. I thought gift cards were no longer allowed to expire anyway.

  2. That’s great! Thanks for helping to make information public so people can take action. I don’t know if you (and your team) get enough credit for how great it is to have your advocacy available. Happy New Year!

    1. Elliott’s exec email list is a godsend. I’ve had to use it twice — for a billing issue at Charter and an appliance issue at Sears — and both times the issues were resolved quickly and in my favor! (NOTE: I also used all the necessary protocols, such as shying away from ‘Laundry List’ complaints, being polite, and exhausting all normal customer service channels before summoning the gods)

  3. Yes, this all worked out. However, this ‘Needless-Markup’ story is really one of a customer service fail. Most customers may not be so persistent over a gift card. In that case, N-M ‘wins’ by having bad CS, b/c of the ole 10-to-1 rule; for every one we hear about, nine more didn’t complain, and thus N-M got to hang onto $$$ that they should have disbursed to customers. Although it’s a bit overly optimistic, one call should have taken care of the problem. The CSR’s get paid to jerk around the customers, customers invest time in resolving issues, but never get reimbursed for their ‘time & trouble’. In a better world, would customers would get reimbursed for their time as well?

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