Is this $500 MGM gift really worth nothing?

What happened to his missing $500 gift card?

If you received a $500 MGM gift card from your family, you would expect it to be worth $500, right? So would I. Unfortunately, this traveler found out his gift card was worth nothing! Can we fix this problem?

Question

I have a problem with an MGM gift card that seems to be worth nothing. Our children gave my wife and me the gift card as an anniversary present.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance. Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

The card has been in our possession until now. When we presented it to the hotel on a recent visit to the Bellagio Hotel, a hotel representative said it had been partially used.

We have pursued the claim through MGM, the issuing bank, the Ohio gaming commission, and the FBI cybercrime website. The company that issued the card, TransCard, at first denied the claim but has subsequently reopened our case. We have not received a response from anyone else that we contacted.

An MGM representative at first said she would help us. But since then, no one from MGM has answered our emails or calls. We have a printout showing where someone tried to use the card number. It couldn’t have been us.

I’d like my MGM gift card to be worth $500 since that is what my family paid. Can you help me? — Eldrich Carr, Independence, Ohio

Answer

You have every right to have the full value of the $500 MGM gift card that your children gave you. And frankly, I’m surprised you’ve remained so calm. If my kids had paid $500 for an MGM gift card that didn’t work, I’d be hitting the ceiling. But remaining calm is good because it’s one of the keys to resolving a difficult consumer problem.

Allow me a moment to give you my honest opinion about gift cards. They’re not worth it. Gift cards are like cash, with none of the benefits. You can only use them in one place (in your case, MGM hotels). Sometimes, they lose value, or expire, or are rendered worthless by bankruptcy. And if a criminal somehow finds the code on the back of your card, you can lose all the value of the card.

Personally, I believe companies have created gift cards to shamelessly appeal to the charitable, generous side of their consumers. But it’s the companies that benefit the most from the funny money. And don’t even get me started on gift cards that may be lost. Companies get to keep that money, too!

So it probably won’t surprise you when I tell you this: When it comes to retrieving lost gift cards, our success rate as an advocacy site is extremely low. Once a company says a card is used, the value is gone. Not even a nationally syndicated columnist and a crack team of advocates can bring it back.

Or can they?

The good news: Your MGM gift card has been reloaded

I am so impressed with your own advocacy efforts. You kept a terrific paper trail of correspondence with the hotel and the enforcement agencies. You left no stone unturned, appealing to the company, your state’s gaming commission, and the FBI. Putting that kind of sustained pressure on a large corporation can often yield positive results. And if not? Well, that’s why I’m here.

I think you might have tried sending a brief, polite email to one of the MGM Resorts International executives the Elliott Advocacy research team has listed in our database. That might have motivated them to take another look at your very valid, and irritating case.

I contacted MGM Resorts on your behalf, but you also continued to pursue the case on your own. You contacted another hotel representative and explained your problem again. I do admire your persistence. You received an email from MGM resorts with a copy of your last bill and a $500 credit. Great teamwork — we fixed this one together.

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