Target won’t return my gift card credit. Their decision is “final.” Can you help?

Denny Eaplin loses $184 in Target gift card credit when someone else redeems it in a different state. The company won’t return the money. Is there any hope for him?

Question

I’ve been a Target customer for many years. I have always been a fan of Target because of their low competitive prices and customer service. I always use Target.com and the Target app on my iPhone to save my gift cards and found it convenient to redeem them through my phone instead of bringing in the physical gift cards.

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If you look at my Target.com account, you will see many gift cards have been stored before. I knew my gift cards were safe because in order to access my gift cards from my iPhone, all I needed was my fingerprint.

More than a week ago I bought a Target gift card from a third party. A few days later, when I was checking out from Target.com, I tried paying and noticed the gift card was no longer in my account.

I tried entering the number and access code, but after many tries, I realized that the balance was all gone. I contacted Target and talked to quite a few gift card specialists. They took all of my info and told me that the remaining balance of $184 was used in Goodyear, Ariz. They sent my case to corporate leadership and told me they should get back to me within 72 hours.

When 72 hours had passed, I called Target customer support. A representative told me I would not be getting a replacement card because “leadership” had decided that I could have sold the gift card. The decision was final. and there was nothing more I can do. That was all the information that was given to me.

I asked whether they could trace that my account was hacked into or logged into from another location because that was the only place where my gift card number was stored. There was no other way anyone would be able to get the numbers because I bought the card with the security seal covering the codes. The Target representative told me that the leadership team has all the tools and would have factored in all of that into their decision.

At this point, I was speechless because I felt was being told I was the one committing fraud and that I’m guilty for it when I didn’t do anything wrong. Also, I really thought I was going to be taken care of as a long-time customer.

I am out $184, which is a lot of money for someone who’s frugal like me.  I have no reason to sell a Target gift card, and if they checked my eBay account, they would see that I always buy Target gift cards and have never sold one. Can you help? — Denny Eaplin,  Monterey Park, Calif.

Answer

Target owed you a straight answer about your gift card’s disappearance. The endless runaround, the delays and the arbitrary decision just didn’t seem like the same company that “fulfills the needs and fuels the potential” of its customers, as its mission statement promises.

If anything, Target fulfilled its need to make a profit and fueled your rage. But don’t worry, it’s fixable.

Target’s terms are clear. The risk of loss and title to such items passes to you when the Target gift card is transmitted electronically to you.

So, according to Target’s contract with you, it’s off the hook. And while it may very well not be legally liable, the company has fallen way short in the customer service department. It owed you answers. How does it know your $184 in gift card credit were sold or given away by you? Aren’t you entitled to see that evidence?

At the very least, Target could have honored its word to get back to you in 72 hours, even if the answer was “no.”

I noted that you corresponded with lower-level employees at Target, who simply repeated their company’s denial of your claim. You might have escalated your case to someone more senior. I list the names, numbers and emails of Target’s customer service executives on my consumer advocacy site.

The resolution

The resolution on this was a real team effort. You posted this problem in our help forum and were advised to send a note to the company contacts. You did and received a call from Target apologizing for your experience.

A Target representative said it had reviewed security footage from its store and confirmed you did not use the gift card. The company agreed to replace the missing funds and will even round it up to $200 to make up for the trouble.

Does Target owe customers who lose money on their gift cards a better explanation? Or would providing those details give too much information to customers who want to exploit the system, like those who engage in manufactured spending or criminals who want to launder money?

19 thoughts on “Target won’t return my gift card credit. Their decision is “final.” Can you help?

  1. “if they checked my eBay account, they would see that I always buy Target gift cards and have never sold one.”

    ebay? that does not seem kosher.

    1. The OP was purchasing Target gift cards from eBay sellers (someone who received one or purchased one but didn’t want to use it). Buying a gift card outside of the actual retail store (i.e. Target in this case) or authorized retail store (i.e. Kroger, Sam’s Club, etc), there is a strong probability that the card has no value.

  2. Is there more to this story that is missing from this article? I don’t recall seeing this on the forums. Another issue with people buying cards from a third party.

    1. I agree…we are not getting the whole story.

      This is a repeat story…maybe the post in the forum is on the second page or whatever.

      I think that it would be great if the site list the date when the article was originally published.

  3. 3rd party purchase, money laundering? So that’s why the barely able to speak english IRS special agents that were sending police to arrest me wanted me to go to target and buy $500.00 worth of gift cards before i got bored and ended the game

  4. I’m confused by this one. The obvious explanation is that she got ripped off by the 3rd-party she purchased the card from and recovering her money for the purchase from that party was the way to go.

    1. Target has deeper and more accessible pockets than some random scammer peddling gift cards on some kind of sketchy bulletin board website.

  5. Actually Target did not owe her more than they said and she was lucky she got her money. Target does not know if they are really talking to the victim or the scammer. Saying more than they did could help a scammer, do it even more scamming. Also one of the things scammers do is try to keep the conversion going, so Target needs to be short and cut it off. This is going to become an even bigger problem as more people buy discounted cards from third parties. More and more it will be if you cannot prove the card was bought from us, you need to deal with the place you purchased the card. Also you need use a credit card for the purchase so you can do a chargeback telling the bank you were sold a card with no value. If they gave into every time someone said my balance is gone, we are the one’s that will end up paying in higher prices.

    1. a fool and their money are soon parted…unless there is bad publicity and a retailer who wants to maintain a good corporate image involved.

  6. If you purchase gift cards from a 3rd party reseller (other than Groupon or authorized outlets) you assume all the risk. Period. End. Of. Sentence.

  7. Along with loyalty / mileage point issues, one of the issues that should not be advocated is gift card balance / account issues where a gift card was purchased from a third party. Last year there was a story where an Amazon account was closed due to gift card issues. After a little Google searching, I was able to see this person knew why it was closed and they were trying to manipulate the system.

  8. “More than a week ago I bought a Target gift card from a third party.”

    IF the OP purchased the gift card from a retailer (i.e. Ralph’s, etc.) then Target should have refunded the OP the money lost.

    IF the OP purchased a gift card from a seller on Craiglist or another website that specializes in the reselling of gift cards then the OP is extremely lucky that Target even gave them money.

    Since the article didn’t state the type of “third-party”…an authorized retail store such as Ralph’s that sells Target gift cards or from an individual on Craiglist or from a reseller site such as cardpool, GiftCards, etc. Even the odd amount of the gift card, it SEEMS like the card was purchased from an individual or a reseller site where fraud is common and they play on people’s greed (i.e. “you can buy a $ 200 gift card for $ 100).

    Several years ago, I was coming out of a Target Supercenter where a couple was trying to sell a Target gift card (it was either a $ 20 or $ 50 gift card). I noticed that they were only asking customers that were leaving to buy the card not the people coming into the store. They asked me and I said can we go inside to check the value and they gave a lame excuse that they couldn’t…either the card was worthless or they had a pending online order.

    Based upon other readers’ comments, I would like to know where the OP purchased the card from.

  9. Gift card purchased from a 3rd party = OP was not committing fraud, but the person who sold it to them most probably was. Trying to save a few dollars by trading cash for store gift card funny money isn’t worth the hassle.

  10. My theory is that Target claimed to check video footage to make it sound like they performed an investigation and came to the decision after performing due diligence. In reality, they probably just cut their losses and caved in order to avoid the bad publicity from a popular consumers rights website. $200 isn’t worth the bad press or time and effort of anyone higher up on their corporate food chain. They just don’t want more people to do the same thing – using media attention to get money out of the company deservedly or otherwise. Therefore, they performed an ‘investigation’ that ‘determined’ the card was not used fraudulently. I think OP’s story is truthful, but the situation is one others could abuse.

    1. I cannot begin to calculate the amount of money Target would have to spend to track down every “fraudulent” card that was ever used. This person sounds very legitimate but there have to be at least 100 dishonest users for every honest user. I know people who think it’s fun to see how little they can get a gift card for on these re-sale sites and some even factor getting burned every so often. What a waste of time – which time has value too.

  11. And here’s the explanation for all those people who were wondering how come the Grandma who got scammed out of Target gift cards by someone pretending to be her granddaughter, wasn’t able to get her money back.

    Because someone sold her gift card numbers to someone like this guy. There’s a huge market for re-selling gift cards out there, and many of them are obtained via scams like the “grandparent scam” that poor woman fell for. Most of them never get discovered because the scam victim is either too ashamed to tell anyone they got scammed, or by the time they realize it and report it, the card numbers have been sold and used. And the person who bought them didn’t commit any crime, because they paid for those cards. The person who sold them might not even be connected to the scammer — those card numbers may have changed hands several times before they landed with the person who ultimately bought them and tried to use them. And by the time they do try to use them, sometimes they’ve already been used because they got sold to someone else too!

    There’s just no way to track these down.

    And this is why it’s never a good idea to buy gift cards online from re-sellers. Want a gift card? Buy it from the actual store. Buying them from re-sellers introduces too many opportunities for sketchy problems.

      1. The reason people buy these gift cards online is that they are often sold for less than their value. So they think they are getting a good deal. And sometimes they are…they can buy $100 gift cards for $95, so there’s a value there.

        But there’s a reason why they are being sold for less, and that reason can end up causing your gift card to be worth nothing. Sometimes people sell them for perfectly legal reasons – they received them as a gift and they want the cash rather than have to buy in that store, and so they only way to get someone to buy them is to sell them for slightly less than the face value.

        But that reason could also be something sketchy – like the card was stolen, or obtained through a scam.

        So it’s always a risk to buy gift cards from re-sellers.

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