My Recent Officemax Mastercard Deal Denial & Interesting Info from a Store Manager


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officemax mastercard deal terms

Officemax Deal Denial & Clarification

The other day I was one of the first to break the news of an unpublished deal at Officemax on Mastercard gift cards. It was a great deal and I know a lot of you went out to Officemax stores and raided their limited supply of cards. I myself went out to a store and had an experience that wasn’t so positive.

As I reported in my original post, the terms of the deal are 1 per household/business. This is of course not always enforced, but when it is, the store should enforce the rules as written. Unfortunately a local store decided that because my wife and I arrived in the same vehicle that we were only eligible for one set of cards.

This Has Happened Before

The really frustrating part of this is that I have had the same exact issue at this same store. Because of a similar problem during a deal earlier in the year, I have the email address of the store manager. Instead of creating a scene, I just went home and emailed him asking why his store still isn’t enforcing the rules. His response was interesting to me. Here are some of the things he said:

  • Each business is entitled to its own deal as written in the terms. He had also confirmed this when I had the same problem months ago, but he reconfirmed it for me. Apparently the employees aren’t trained this way, since my wife and I both own separate businesses and the cards we were using were small business cards with the business names on them. Note: You need to use cards for the separate businesses. They won’t take your word for it.
  • Office Depot corporate is very concerned about money laundering and they are actively training reps to look for fraud. This is an active focus topic for them, so we are more likely to see increase scrutiny when purchasing gift cards.
  • This sale was sponsored by Mastercard. I don’t know if this really matters, but I found it interesting. I have always suspected that these various deals were sponsored by Visa/MC, etc.


If you have separate businesses and are using business cards to pay, then you should be eligible for 1 deal per business as is stated in the terms. It seems though that representatives are being held responsible for allowing fraud and thus everyone is a little on edge. This makes sense, but it can have a frustrating result. I am over it, but thought this information may be of use to some of you.

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  1. I went to a Staples over the weekend to purchase two $100 GCs to take advantage of the Amex $20 off $100 x2. Upon seeing two GCs with two CCs the cashier immediately summoned the manager who inspect the front and back of both CCs and my DL. I politely inquired as to the major concern, and his answer was this: “We get a lot of people trying to buy GCs with fake and stolen credit cards.”

    I think it’s really that simple. The best thing you can do is be as polite, transparent, and accommodating as possible.

  2. went to office max yesterday @ Las Vegas, the manager denied me by having some bs reason that customers who are using chase INK which is creating a lot of fraudulent activities so they are banning the use of this particular card , any other card will be accepted. I tried to argue through but the manager was coming up with senesless arguments so I decided to drop it and purchased it with another card which is still $1.10 back in my pocket for $400.

  3. I wonder who will cause the final business collapse of OfficeMax and Staples first?
    A. Mfg. Spenders
    B. Stolen credit card users
    C. Crack down by management of both
    D. Overpriced products that can be bought almost anywhere cheaper

  4. Sorry to hear of your experience. As much as it pains me, I’ve given up on Staples/OD because of the PITA factor. It’s a personal decision but it’s just not enjoyable and is more often than not a waste of my time.

    Most recently I tried to buy $200 vgc at staples with the amex offer. The manager oversaw the transaction and was flat out rude about the way he handled it. I tried to maintain a positive attitude throughout it and even tried to relate to him despite the fact I thought his reasoning was absurd. In the end he semi backpeddled and apologized for being ‘a bit stern.’

    I tried to buy with a combination of Serve+cc and he rhetorically and in a tone that made it obvious it was very personal to him three times asking me if it’s a prepaid card when he already knew it was (he snagged it out of my hand and looked at it). Reminded me of a mother asking their teenager of they did something when they both already know they did..

    When I told him it’s run as an American Express card he cut me off with ” we don’t allow the usage of prepaid cards. We don’t want people taking advantage of promotions.” When I looked at him dumbfounded by his response (I’d semi-understand if it were about fraud) I asked how long that policy has been implemented and he put his hands in the air and said “for all of the 14 years I’ve been here and I’m not about to risk my job over it.” Mind you it’s my wife and I and our daughter and it was embarrassing and awkward to boot.

    After some silence as he instructed the new cashier (their employee turnover is insane) to do the transactions I told him I can understand and “can’t blame you if I’m in your position” if what someone is doing is risking your job. I went on to explain I’ve never had this issue before and that what bothers me is the inconsistency in policy from one store or cashier to the next and that it wastes everyone’s time and energy including his. He agreed and semi apologized.

    I considered contacting the store manager but it’s obvious that the issue here is a culture issue, coming from the top down. I don’t feel like wasting more time about an issue that is unlikely to change and despite the fact that it probably doesn’t matter, I’d prefer not to draw eyes to prepaid Amex products. Not to mention that while the manager irritated me with his behavior, I also felt bad for him. A guy with 14 years in a company that gives him the type of heat over prepaid cards and promotions to warrant that kind of defensive response probably leads a life founded in a job he hates going to.

    I’m going to buy ebay gift cards at and stash them for the inevitable ebay deals. Might even get portal cb. If I need more vgc I’ll buy them online and lose on the fee difference with them being $100s but life’s about finding a balance and for me this is where it’s at.

    Just sharing this story for anyone else who’s getting into the Staples/OD game. I’ve had many other negative experiences with these stores and it’s highly YMMV with one store being better than another so while some will luck out others will not. It seems they’re pushing forward more and more to dissuade MS’ers from doing business with them.

    • Cool post man. Thanks for sharing.

      I am tired of stupid people and their made up store policies too. Everything that I have experienced and heard related to store managers not allowing customers to utilize special deals DOES NOT PREVENT FRAUD DAMNIT!

      They are totally doing it wrong! Checking the CC and ID match is fine as its basic fraud prevention, but everything else is just plain stupid!

      The real crap they should be doing is to keep all gift cards behind the counter like cigarettes and sell accordingly with minimal questions. THAT PREVENTS FRAUD.

      Tired of seeing tampered gift cards and having to always check all my purchases.

      • Agreed. There is zero uniform consistency / enforcement of these ad-hoc “fraud” policies across stores in the same area code, let alone corp-wide. It seems to be entirely contingent on the cashier’s knowledge or lack of, which is then escalated to the manager’s mood that day. I bought 6 $200s yesterday at one OD after an excruciating wait for them to call their corp # to OK it. I then was only allowed to purchase 4 at a different OD, but the cashier wrote my name and phone # on a post-it to give to store mgr “in case of any issues”. Today I was limited to only buying 2 at a THIRD store, but the guy was cool and said “come back every day until they’re all sold if you want, but we can only sell you 2 per day”. W-T-F ?!?! Original poster was correct – this arbitrary store manager “playing-God” response is a quintessential PITA. We would all probably be much better served keeping our FICOs tight and accumulating points w/AORs vs the inefficient cost/benefit box of chocolates that is this BS …

        • The box of chocolates comment had me laughing pretty hard. The pressure these newbie employees and paranoid managers are under is almost palpable sometimes. It’s almost funny if it weren’t irritating at the thought of wasting time!

    • @ anthonyjh21

      I’ve been reading your posts over the last few months and I do appreciate your detailed comments.

      I have a question about your comment that you are going to “buy ebay gift cards at and stash them for the inevitable ebay deals.” Can you use ebay gift cards on most deals there or only a select few? Do you use them to buy other gift cards?

      Thanks for any input!

      • Glad I can be of some help.

        As far as ebay gift cards are concerned, you can definitely buy anything on ebay with ebay gift cards, including more ebay gift cards! There are definitely some things to be aware of, such as the $5,000 per 180 day rule for ebay gift card purchase and redemption. There’s plenty of places to buy ebay gift cards that’ll net you 5-10% discount., Gyft, big box stores ( Discover currently pays 10% for Lowes purchases for Q3 and they sell ebay gift cards there).

        Ebay runs deals all the time on discounted gift cards, or like today, the ebay bucks multiplier (their in-house cash back system that pays in ebay credits). Shawn does a great job of keeping us updated of new ebay deals so you’re in the right place here.

        I just spent more than $8,000 on ebay in the last 24 hours to capitalize on the 4x ebay buck promo that expires in about half an hour. Cleared out three Discover cards ($1,500 x 3) so I’m happy about that because of the double cash back promo. There’s a lot of value to be had at ebay if you incorporate it as part of your MS strategy too.

        • Sorry man, but I am not following why you are using Discover CC for eBay and not Chase. Not to mention you said you were clearing out Discover $1500 x 3 as if there was a category bonus for eBay. Are you saying the standard 1% on purchases x 2 (Double CB) is worth it?

          Since you bought $8k on eBay, are these mostly giftcard resale?

          • Discover is 5% cb for home improvement for Q3. As you probably know they’ll double the cash back if you’re in their double cash back promo. Thus it’s really $1,500 x 10% for home improvement. Well, Lowe’s sells Ebay variable gift cards. Walk in, buy 3 $500 gift cards and lock in your 10% discount on Ebay gift cards. I have 3 Discover cards so in essence it’s $4,500 in ebay gift cards at 10% discount.

            Chase is, at most, 7% discount if you go through gyft and paypal and use your INK card. Sometimes you’ll get random delays w/ gyft too or even security checks, which I’ve had to do two…so you don’t want to wait until last minute to buy with them if possible, and definitely not after hours when service reps are gone. I have definitely purchased gift cards this route as well, but between the $5k/180 day rule for ebay gift card usage (including buying ebay gc through paypal digital gifts on ebay) you’re going to burn through your velocity limit pretty quickly. Because of this I’m mixing in amex gift card purchases with an effective cash back rate of 4.05% cb. So no mater what I’ll always have a way of saving at least 4% on all purchases.

            Yeah, it’s completely gift card resale. I’m a bulk seller with three exchange sites so it’s relatively easy and fast to get paid. It’s been an awesome complimentary way of meeting minimum spend on credit cards, gaining a lot of points and some spending money as well.

          • So thats what you meant. Thanks for the explanation man. You had to flank the eBay path. Makes sense.
            I need to become a bulk reseller too. So much more volume and so much more efficient. Cant do this RedBird/BlueBird reload thing anymore. Such a huge time commitment. Need a solid way to get $50k-$100k per month and it definitely cant be using the reloadable debits.

        • @ anthonyjh21 –

          Thanks, I appreciate the eBay info with your specific strategies – I’m going to have to start out small there and learn the ropes.

  5. I hit 2 Office Max stores over the past two days (a third was wiped out before I go there). I scored three pairs of $200 cards at each store (separate transactions) the first day and two pairs (again separate transactions) at one of the same stores today. That’s $3200 on my Ink card plus an instant profit of ~ nine dollars. Each time the cashier called a manager and i heard one say there is a $2000 limit per customer per day. The others looked at my ID and said, “just ring him up.”

    I do this during my lunch (I’m near the stores anyway). I am always dressed nice, have my license with my CC ready to show, make pleasant small talk with the cashier to build a personal connection (usually about my retail experience while in college), and NEVER give them any grief. If they know I relate to them and their job, they will usually go that extra mile. If I get them to smile, I know I’m golden. Just being human and not some greedy D-bag seems to go a long way.

    BTW… My Ink card was not initially accepted for any one of the 8 transactions by the card reader. The CC number had to be either manually entered or the payment method cleared by the cashier and the second swipe always worked…strange!

    • I had that issue. The trick was for the cashier to back out of the payment screen on the register and then to re-enter it. When that was done the card would swipe. I don’t think it was specific to the Ink card, but any credit card.

  6. I’ve found that Office Max and Stop & Shop were once again ill prepared for the gift card deal. Office Max had only 3 $100 cards on Tuesday and Stop & Shop had only $100 cards, not the $25-$500 variable ones. No one in either store seems to know when gift cards come in. It’s rare for any of the Staples stores that I frequent to ever run out of gift cards, although sometimes I have to ask for them.

  7. I’m so tired of the bothersome OM policies with gift cards, which are always changing. Fraud? Is fraud only prevalent at OM? My big question is why do I never have this problem buying multiple Visa/MC GCs at the grocery stores?

  8. One of the OfficeMax stores in Stockton, California does not accept credit cards as a payment for gift cards. I even spoke to the clueless store manager, who told me that it is corporate’s policy. I wonder if this promotion work for Mastercard gift cards purchased at OD.

  9. I will no longer shop at Office Max after my last attempt to buy 2 GC’s there. I handed the cashier my Ink card and he told me that their new policy required them to call in for approval for every GC transaction paid by credit card. I told him that was perfectly fine. So of course, my card gets denied. but within seconds I get a fraud alert on my phone. I showed the guy and I approved the purchase so he tried calling again. AGAIN, it gets denied. So now I call Chase myself – and the rep tells me that the guy just called in too quickly and the purchase is fine to make now, he also offers to talk to the cashier himself. At this point, the manager had come over and talked to the cashier. When I tell him that it’s fine now and the Chase rep says it’s a go and will talk to him if he wants, he tells me that he’s no longer allowed to sell to me!!!!! His manager told him after 2 denials they don’t try again. I was FUMING. He saw that it was just a fraud alert denial and even the Chase rep (still on my phone) was stunned. I made a bit of a scene trying to argue with the manager who was now hiding in an office. SO frustrating. I left, never to return again.

    • I don’t blame the manager for refusing to sell after 2 denials. Given the amount of fraud around, the couple of bucks they might clear from your 2 gift cards just isn’t worth the hassle.

      While I can sympathize with your embarrassment/anger (I’ve been there), this wasn’t OM’s fault – Chase is the one that denied the charge after receiving your approval. Don’t know what “too quickly” means, but given that you told the cashier that he should call again and it again got denied, I’m not surprised that you looked suspicious, or at least not worth the risk. If all you buy there is GCs, I’m sure they won’t be too upset to lose your business.

      • The fact he spoke with Chase and he was confirmed over the phone is not something someone committing fraud would do (they’d of probably left quickly after being told of the policy). It’s the very reason I’m sure OD/OM implemented this policy at this store.

        While I wouldn’t like to see people getting mad to the point they lose their composure, it’s hard to fully blame him here. I felt myself on the brink a few times after getting the round about and being treated disrespectfully (doing what they could to dissuade my actions in the future) and it’s why I crossed this strategy off my MS list going forward. Is no benefit to me getting mad or pursuing justice when it’s a top down issue these office stores have. Only thing we can do is shrug it off and move on to other deals.

        For what it’s worth, I don’t think this is done just for fraud purposes, and I don’t mean in this specific instance. They’re probably struggling and don’t want people taking advantage of promos. If an unsuspecting older person with random overpriced items in their cart came up and wanted to buy the gift cards too and had a non-bonus credit card I honestly doubt they’d get near the flack that we MS-oriented folks do.

  10. I missed something (besides no MC at OM) what are the a). purchase two $100 GCs to take advantage of the Amex $20 off $100 x2. and b). the stop & shop deal. haven’t seen either.

  11. Count me in as part of the group. We have several OMs in the area and none follow any type of protocol regarding gift card purchases. Spoke to the district mgr and was given the same “guarding against fraud” line. I have no issue with limits, but the lack of consistency across stores is pretty frustrating.

  12. There are opposite, good manager stories out there, too.

    I stop in at a Staples near Gettysburg, just off the interstate about once a month (always on a Sunday, en route to a regular client in DC). I get $400 in Amazon gift cards on one Chase INK card and another $400 in MC/Visa on another. The same manager gets called over and approves the cards. The reason for the split is that over $500 means a call to Chase for verification/validation so it is faster to use 2 cards.

    In one visit he asked me if I will continue to do this every month and I said yes so he said he’d order $100 amazon cards rather than have me wipe out his stack of $50 and $25 and set them aside for me. He asked me, “just out of curiosity” what I do with them every month. I told him that I use them for online purchases because I don’t like to give my CC number to merchants given how many of them have breaches. (That’s true, but of course I buy them at Staples for the 5x). I even told him that I empty out the visa/mc small remainders at the nearby Sheets (a gas station/deli) via the pay at the pump — it just automatically stops when the credit is used up.

  13. Never run into problems because I can never find any Visa or Master gift cards that is over $100 in the OfficeMax located in Boston, MA.


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