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Avoid Leaving With An Empty Card
Anyone who has been around this game for awhile has either read or heard about horror stories when it comes to gift cards. People have had problems with card numbers being stolen and the value being wiped out along with simple mistakes like a cashier switching out an active card for a dud.
Today that second situation happened to me and it could have been a disaster. I was at one of my favorite places to buy gift cards and the cashier was sort of trying to do a million things at once. He scanned a card to activate it and then said the system didn’t take the card. Essentially in his words it was, “A bad card”. He then put it aside and proceeded to scan the rest of the gift cards that I was purchasing.
After paying and getting the receipt, I stood at the counter and checked to make sure I had the correct cards. This has been something I have done religiously for years and today was the first time I have had an issue. I highly recommend that you never leave the establishment without verifying that you have the activated cards. This should be RULE #1!
RULE#1: Never leave without verifying that the cards in your posession are the ones that were activated on the receipt.
Each store and receipt will look a little different, but the receipt should have some identifying information for each activated card. The store that this happened at prints the entire 16 digit card number on the receipt. In about 15 seconds I was able to see that I was given an inactivate card. Of course the “bad” card that he put aside was activated with a $500 balance!
An Example From CVS
Since I have been asked not to share about the store I was shopping at today, here is an example of a receipt from CVS for the purchase of Vanilla Visa cards. On the bottom of the receipt you can find the value and last four digits of the serial number for each activate card.
After checking the receipt, simply compare it to the serial number on the back of the card’s package. Vanilla cards have two numbers on the back of the package, so it is important to look at the serial number on the very bottom as shown.
As you can see the 7310 matches up to the receipt. This card is active! Yay!
Every store has some form of activation receipt and it is important that you check to make sure you received the correct activated card(s). I always check before leaving so if there is a problem it can be resolved quickly since the cashier is still there. I have heard too many stories about month long ordeals trying to straighten out a situation like this.
In today’s case, I quickly pointed out the discrepancy in the card numbers and he apologized and gave me the so called “bad” card which matched up perfectly to the receipt. I also made sure to call right away on all of the cards in order to set a pin and verify the balance. I don’t think that he switched the cards on purpose, but had I not looked, it may have been a very big deal to get my money back.
When dealing with thousands of dollars at a time, it is easy to make a costly mistake. If you lose even one gift card, it really takes a lot of the value out of manufacturing spend. I highly suggest whenever you are purchasing gift cards of any kind, that you carefully examine everything before leaving the store. Today RULE #1 may have just saved me $500!