I’m not one for clickbait headlines. If I tell you that my experience with Gift Card Mall was an absolute nightmare I mean it. I’m not going to tell you not to use the site, but you do need to be aware of what can go wrong and how hard it is to get it fixed when it does.
My Gift Card Mall Nightmare
- Over the Christmas season Gift Card Mall offered $500 5 back Visa cards at a discount. I ordered $2500 worth of Visa Gift cards for $2415 on December 5. I paid $10 extra for priority shipping with signature because it just seemed prudent.
- On December 13th I received an email that the gift cards had been shipped. The email noted that I paid extra for Priority shipping with signature and to expect the cards in 3-7 days.
- On December 20 I received 5 UNSEALED envelopes via first class mail, each with a $500 Visa gift card in it. Let me repeat: $2500 in cash equivalent was sent to me through the US Mail in OPEN ENVELOPES. They weren’t tampered with, they weren’t sealed but opened accidentally, they quite simply had NEVER BEEN CLOSED.
- Needless to say, the cards were compromised. Hundreds of people in the mail chain had access to the numbers on the Visa cards. I immediately called the customer service number on Gift Card Mall’s website ( 1-888-524-1283) to get the cards cancelled and replaced.
Gift Card Mall’s Circles of Hell
Here’s what you need to know about Gift Card Mall’s “customer service” phone number on their own website: it does not connect to Gift Card Mall. It actually connects to some sort of calling center for “Blackhawk Network” that apparently has nothing to do with Gift Card Mall. Yes, they’re officially the same company, but no, they aren’t, depending on who you talk to.
- On December 20th I spoke to someone (after holding for 15 minutes) at whichever company who did not at all understand why I was concerned. He actually said to me “do you live in a bad neighborhood or something?” when I explained that the numbers were visible to anyone in the mail chain. After 30 additional minutes he agreed to cancel these cards and send me new ones. He told me this would take 14 days. Why? I have no idea and neither did he.
- By January 5th I still had no sign of the replacement cards. Calling the number again (still not knowing it does not lead to Gift Card Mall) I repeated the above exercise as the person I spoke with had no record of my first call.
- By January 20th I still had no sign of the replacement cards. This time I looked for another number. Googling “Gift Card Mall Customer Service” I found 877-426-2551 on gethuman.com. This number actually got me to Gift Card Mall, even though it’s listed nowhere on GiftCardMall.com. This person had no record of my first two calls and was the one that informed me that the number on GiftCardMall.com does not connect to Gift Card Mall. This person was apologetic and promised to get the issue resolved within 7 days.
- By January 28th I still had no sign of the replacement cards. Feeling out of options, I filed a chargeback with Chase.
What you need to know about Visa Gift Card Chargebacks
- At first I was optimistic. The Chase rep I spoke to immediately granted me a “temporary credit” for $2415 and told me not to worry about it. As soon as Gift Card Mall didn’t appeal it would become permanent.
- Guess what happened? Gift Card Mall suddenly got its act together! I received a call two weeks later from Chase that Gift Card Mall was demanding “proof of return”. I pulled out my notes of the phone calls and numerous case numbers.
- HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: IF IT’S NOT IN WRITING, YOU HAVE NO PROOF. The Chase rep told me “some companies really know how to bend the rules”. Apparently Gift Card Mall is one of them. By giving me nothing in writing (even though I asked multiple times) it was my word against theirs. Visa will side with the merchant until proven otherwise!
It took DYKWIA to get my money back
- So at this point I’m sitting on five worthless pieces of plastic while Gift Card Mall has my $2415. My only remaining outlet- besides filing a police report or going to small claims court (which I did consider)- was social media.
- On February 20th I sent a tweet saying that my next post would be about how Gift Card Mall stole $2415 from me. I received a message from Gift Card Mall’s Social Media feed within the hour. They didn’t offer to help me, but did take my information.
- Two days later I did get a call from an actual customer service supervisor at Gift Card Mall. I had to tell him the entire story AGAIN (apparently no one at Gift Card Mall takes notes?) and he seemed appropriately horrified. He promised me a refund within 10 days.
- (Wanna take a guess what happened next?) By March 7th I still had no refund. I called him again and again he promised me a refund. This time he actually followed up with an email. This email is the only written communication I have from Gift Card Mall even though I have asked for one after every single call.
On March 16th I got my money back.
It took 86 days and at least 10 hours of my life for my order to get fixed. During those 86 days I lost access to $2415 of my own money. Nightmare is the accurate term to describe my Gift Card Mall experience.
I know many of you use the site and I’m not going to tell you to stop. However, you need to know that things can go wrong very quickly. When they do they will get solved very slowly, if at all.
A response to the commenters who think I somehow created this mess:
In no way have I claimed expertise in manufactured spending. I am simply sharing my experience. Clearly it has touched a nerve.
I think you’re missing the point of the post. It shouldn’t take 86 days for a company to fix an error. From the time I made the first call the cards were inactive. I reported them compromised and they were cancelled. The story is that it took 86 days for them to replace them (by giving a refund). I would have accepted new cards had they been sent properly.
Here’s exhibit A of where many readers are living in an entirely different reality than most. The vast majority of people who received what I did in the mail would have had them cancelled and not have considered any other option. The cards I received were compromised. Period. Whether you were willing or not to roll those dice is irrelevant.
Many have asked why I didn’t try to use the cards anyway. Here was my thought process (feel free to keep throwing me under the bus): it would be easier to replace the entire card than learning it had been used and trying to dispute an individual transaction after I had taken possession.
I viewed it the same way I would have viewed a password hack- you don’t wait for your account to get drained, you change your password. There was no way for me to have known at the time the level of ineptitude I was walking into. The cards should have been replaced within a week. If they had been, there would be no story.
If you are comfortable dealing with a company that has this level of service, so be it. I am not and believe others deserve to be informed in advance. Many people rush blindly into MS without thinking through what a mess it can make when it goes south. Telling them it’s perfectly alright to accept activated Visa gift cards that arrive wide open is just plain irresponsible. I won’t do it.
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