I Hate Making Some New Discoveries

I love making new discoveries that play into earning a ton of points. It’s like hearing that it’s a snow day from school and now from work. They just never get old!

Then there are the discoveries that I find accidentally and do not want to find. These are the ones that are exploitable because of poor IT systems. They constitute fraud and could land someone in jail like the Chiu brothers with what they did with FatWallet and Nordstroms.

Without naming stores and too many techniques, I will talk about one store out of three that I’ve found recently because it bothers me the most.

The Scenario

This month, I’ve had a need to use a lot of gift cards online for purchases. In order to maximize savings, I’ve bought a few thousand worth of gift cards to lower my costs. All of the gift cards I have used are electronic and during check out, as with many sites, it tells you which cards you’ve used in the check out and tell me what’s left that I owe or not. I would complete the purchase and move onto the next purchase.

I made a few rapid orders one after another and in the process I was confused which gift card I used. I had 18 gift cards and some where using gift card number 12 and 13 I wasn’t sure if I used gift card number 12 or not. I reapplied gift card 12 and it worked thinking I had not used gift card number 12. However, when I went to use gift card number 18, I knew how much I’d need to spend, but at the end I wound up with a surplus of gift card credit.

What This Means

At the end of all the orders, I was supposed to owe $25, but after applying the last gift card, I didn’t owe anything. That means that I had used gift card number 12 twice. It bothers me because a nefarious character could potentially reuse a gift card over and over and over for “unlimited” money.

What this retailer needs to do is update their systems to charge the gift card as soon as the order is submitted, just like how they process a credit card order. Send everything into a pending status and charge the card, and if it the order falls through, just refund the value back to the cards. Instead, this retailer allows you to charge up everything on the gift card without any validations.

After Some Stewing

I actually had my order cancelled, but I am pretty sure if I spent more than 15 minutes of accidentally finding out about this discovery I could game the system, but that’s fraud and nothing is worth it when it comes to that. It’s caused me to rethink if the cards on the secondary market are sold from this “trick.”

8 comments… add one
  • It sounds like staples. They always cancel the order and it makes a big mess if that ever happens. It won’t ever go through actually and it just wastes your time. Just a mistake, not fraud, you can’t take advantage of it in anyway. Your order will never ship until the problem is resolved and then you;ll have to wait days for your gift card balance to be restored. I hope that helps you and your conscience….

    • ROFL…true dat. This often happens when their ordering system is “sleeping.” People learn of deals and jump for joy thinking the item hasn’t sold out. They place their order … it’s only hours later when they get the sad email: sorry, your order is cancelled because it’s out of stock.

      Most frustrating is when their system is randomly down and you can’t apply gift cards or use their rebate cards because the system can’t verify the gift card balance or verify the rebate cards. But they have stepped up their process. A lot of people are getting blacklisted for too much voodoo.

    • No, it wasn’t Staples

  • Kohls used to let you use a gc to buy a gc but then your oder was cancelled later. The points still posted though.

    • That happened to me many times, that reminded me, I have a story about that

  • this is a post with much ado about nothing. filler or do you actually, genuinely believe in the underlying message, considering your whole site is basically about gaming the system as much as possible.

    you really think retailers are stupid? that something like this, if it was indeed an “unlimited” money machine, could go on and no one would notice? the reason this isnt ‘fixed’ because there are other checks and balances in place.

    not to mention using 18 GCs on orders isnt normal, user behavior. so in this case your order will be cancelled, you’ll have more hassles waiting for your GCs to be refunded/reloaded and waste more time ordering all over again with 18 GCs.

    the only thing that should bother you or what you should hate is thinking that you’re smarter than everyone else and acting as if you’ve ‘discovered’ some kinda unsanctimonious holy grail. when the only thing you’ve found is how to get your order cancelled, and delay shipping aka BS.

    • Retailers aren’t stupid, but they need to fix their IT systems!

  • Sorry, but have to agree that this article is pretty pointless. All you discovered is a way to get your order canceled and to create a headache for yourself and the retailer. There was no chance to earn/steal even a $1 here — so it’s complete hyperbole to say this is a potential “unlimited” money machine. I don’t wait to be a complete arse, since you put out some good content — but this post just isn’t it.


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