Lessons Learned In Business

Stay Away From Gift Card Rescue – The Story of How I (Almost) Lost $1,300 by Using Gift Card Rescue

MONEY DOWN THE DRAIN

I planned on publishing part two of the “How I Cut My Sourcing Costs Up to 50%” series this week, but something else is really grinding my gears.  I usually try to do a nice, cool story, or something to hook readers. Well, this one is a not so cool story of why I feel I’ve been scammed out of $1,300 from Gift Card Rescue.

What Grinds My Gears – Gift Card Rescue Edition

Grinds-My-Gears

To start out, you need to understand the love I have of gift cards for sourcing products from retailers.  I’ll be doing a future post about how to use gift cards to improve your sourcing costs, but let’s just say I’ve saved a LOT of money purchasing gift cards on discount.  This is a screen shot of some of my recent Raise.com (non affiliate link: Raise.com) purchases:

Raise_101415_001

 

Over the last 12 days, I’ve purchased $56,000 worth of gift cards from Raise.  Here’s another look from Cardpool.com (non affiliate link: Cardpool.com):

cardpool 101415

Between those two sites and Gift Card Zen, I purchase a lot of gift cards.  The name of the game for these gift card companies is to churn through as many gift cards as they possibly can.  That’s how they make their money.  They want as many buyers as possible to purchase the gift cards they have for sale.  I think I would be a customer Gift Card Rescue would want, since I purchase a significant volume of gift cards.  However, Gift Card Rescue has shown they do not value me as a customer. Let’s recap the story.

 

Gift Card Problems

Inherently, the companies that resell gift cards have to protect themselves from fraud.  They are selling items that could easily be used by anyone – even the person they purchased the gift card from in the first place.  As a buyer, you have to understand that there will be problems if you buy gift cards in any volume.  I’ve seen quite a few cases where we’ve attempted to use gift cards, and they don’t work.  Most of the time it’s because of an invalid pin number, or because the original person that sold the gift card decided to be fraudulent and use the gift card after they sold it to the gift card company.  No gift card company is impervious to these problems.  What sets apart the gift card companies is how they handle these specific problems when they arise.   I’ve had problems with gift cards purchased from Raise, Cardpool, and Gift Card Zen.  However, every single time I’ve had a problem, each of those companies resolved them in a quick and expedited manner.  I just open up tickets with the companies explaining the problems – and they resolve them. No hoops to jump through – they just take care of it.

Enter Gift Card Rescue.

Gift Card Rescue has a policy where you can only place one order worth $100 of printable gift cards within the first 30 days of being a customer.  Sounds a little ridiculous – but I understand they are trying to weed out the fraud.  I placed my first order with them on July 20, 2015.  Everything went perfectly fine.  Exactly how a transaction should be.  Due to their policy, I had to wait 30 days to place another order.  Since I buy a lot, I decided to contact their customer service via live chat and see if there was any option to lift the buying ban.  Nope, no way at all.  Not even if I’m Warren Buffet.

Ok, I guess I’ll wait to hand them more money.

The next purchase I make with them is on August 30, 2015.  It is a $400.00 Gift Card for Sears / K-Mart.  Gift Card Rescue sent an email on August 31, 2015 stating the order was approved, and the gift card was ready for use. I log into their admin on September 1, 2015 to use the gift card, and low and behold, I see this:

sears_card_wrong_pin

Anyone that uses K-mart / Sears gift cards know that their PIN numbers have eight digits – not four.  So, I immediately send them an email, explaining the problem to them.

gift card rescue 1

I have a lot of things going on, so I don’t follow up on issues such as this as quickly as I would like to (which is a semi-common thread throughout this story).  Most people just expect a reply back from the company when you send them an email.  Gift Card Rescue?  Crickets.  I send them a follow up email on September 7:

gift card rescue 2

 

The good news?  I actually received a quick response.  The bad news? It was an automated response telling me they received my email.  Which I never got the first time – so it’s possible they never received my first email.  On September 9, I actually receive a response from a human.  Here it is:

gift card rescue 3

Wow.  I’m glad they cleared that up!  I obviously didn’t know how to retrieve the correct code, so they needed to send me instructions on how to do so.  Amazingly, I followed their instructions, and the PIN number was still wrong.  So, I nicely respond back to them:

gift card rescue 4

That was on September 10th.  How long do you think it took to receive a response to this email?  Yep, still waiting.  I never heard a response back from them, and as of today, the PIN number is still wrong.  Why didn’t I follow up with them again?  I was busy.  And, the next problem with Gift Card Rescue occurred.

 

The Fun Continues With Gift Card Rescue

Foolishly, I kept purchasing gift cards from Gift Card Rescue, expecting they would resolve the original problem. Their marketing and discounts kept me coming back.  Every single day around 2pm, I would receive a nice marketing message in my inbox with an awesome discount code for Gift Card Rescue.  Those codes made the pricing I was receiving from Gift Card Rescue better than what I was receiving elsewhere.  I thought I had found a new go-to gift card destination.  The only problem was they didn’t have the amount of gift cards I needed.  But that’s fine – I’ll buy whatever they have that makes sense.  To give you an idea of how often their marketing goes out, here’s a quick snapshot:


gift card rescue 5

 

I have to hand it to them.  As inconsistent as their customer service response time is – their marketing is spot on.  Maybe the marketing department could give their customer service department lessons on timeliness.

On September 17, I placed multiple orders.  Specifically, some of them were for Walmart gift cards.   On September 18, they issued the gift cards to us.  We attempted to use them over the weekend on September 19 / 20.  We realized some of the cards were not working.  I was back in the office on Monday following up on things, and opened this ticket:

gift card rescue 6In total, there are six $150.00 gift cards not working for a total of $900.00.  Once I saw this issue come up, it reminded me of the Sears issue.  I immediately stopped placing orders with Gift Card Rescue.  Up until this point, I had already spent $18,651.63 with them – most of it coming within a two week time span.  Not exactly chump change, and it should easily show them I buy a lot.  I receive this response the next day:

gift card rescue 7

gift card rescue 8

gift card rescue 9

I get this email, and I’m frankly a little bit floored.  They sold me gift cards I can’t even use. Now, they are asking me to take valuable time out of my day to fill out forms and provide them with all sorts of research and “proof” that I didn’t steal their gift cards.  Ever hear of the phrase “Innocent until proven guilty”?  It works in the United States, but not with Gift Card Rescue.  If you have a problem with your gift card, you better find out about it immediately within 24 hours, or expect to be “Guilty, unless they believe you”.  Even the wording of the email is acting as if I’m a fraudulent buyer: “An investigation could take up to 3 weeks to fully determine the legitimacy of the refund.”.  The oddest part is this is an easy case to solve – one of the cards was used before I even got them.  If one of them were compromised, it would make sense that the others could have been compromised.  

I was pretty upset, so I sent this email (which I imagine could have been worded better):

gift card rescue 10

I figured bringing up the fact that I am part of a very large community of people that purchase a lot of gift cards (online sellers), and the fact that I make a lot of purchases would start the ball rolling for some sort of resolution.

I got a call or an email immediately, right?  Well, you couldn’t be more wrong.  They never responded.

I called their phone number 1-877-800-4413 on September 29.  It rang, and then went to a message saying “this mailbox is full”.

I call them again on October 5, and received the same thing.  So, I send them another email:

gift card rescue 11

That HAD to get an immediate response, right?   If you’ve been following this story, I bet you can figure out the answer.  Absolutely no response.

Now, when I chose the date I put in the email, I totally forgot I was heading out to the Import Summit that day.  So, I wasn’t able to follow up on it.  The last few days have been busy too.  So, today (October 14), I attempt to give them one last chance. I give them yet another phone call.complaint-voicemail

RING.

RING.

Voicemail.  This mailbox is full.

Either someone needs a bigger voicemail, or they need to stop pissing customers off.

 

What Now?

Well, at this point, I’m just going to write this off as a business loss.  But, while doing so, I’m going to make sure everyone understands what will happen if Gift Card Rescue sends you a bad gift card.

But Chris, why didn’t you just send in the form like they asked?  Maybe you would have a refund by now?

At this point, I expect no response to anything from them that will actually resolve any problem.  After I sent the email on September 22, I expected some sort of response from someone.  If the response said “hey, this is our procedure no matter the situation”, I would have filled out the information and sent it in.  However, after I heard no response to that email, an additional email, and three phone calls, why in the world would I waste my time doing research on something that likely will never get looked at?

Anyway you look at it, Gift Card Rescue has lost a customer.  A high volume customer. And now, everyone knows the story why.

Wow…Where Do I Buy My Gift Cards Now?

There are three websites I would strongly recommend:

I’ll Be Back Next Week

I’ll be back next week with the next installment of the “How I Cut My Sourcing Costs Up to 50%” series.  If you haven’t subscribed via email yet, please do so!  Shortly after the article is published, you’ll have it nice and fresh in your e-mail box.

Continue The Discussion

fb-artI’ve also started a discussion in our FREE facebook group asking everyone which gift card websites they frequent.  Follow along here.  Not a member of the Grow Your Online Business Facebook Group yet? Join for FREE, where you can chat with like minded entrepreneurs that want to grow their businesses.

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Here are just a few things that are included as part of the community:

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There are many amazing topics in our Facebook group that may interest you:

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  • Places to find employees

If you are interested, check out more details here.

Update – 10/16/2015

After posting this article, I tweeted the article to Gift Card Rescue.  No Response.  So, I sent them this email on 10/16/2015 to their customer service department:

Gift-Card-Rescue-emaiil-10-16

They responded later that day:

gift card rescue response 101615

They actually merged my last response with all the other responses I sent.  It’s obvious they received the other emails I sent (which they ignored), because it’s in the chain of emails now attached to this one.  I sent them the filled out forms as requested less than 30 minutes after they sent this email.  Let’s see how they respond.

Update – 10/19/2015

I received a phone call from their “Customer Retention” person, wanting to personally assist me in resolving the problem. Conversation was quick – she said “All you have to do is submit the forms, and I’ll personally make sure it’s taken care of”. I reminded her I actually sent the forms in on Friday already. So, we’ll see what happens next.

Update – 10/20/2015

I received this email a few moments ago:

“We have begun a refund process for your orders XXXX, XXXX, and XXXX. Your refund should reflect back to your GiftCardRescue.com account within 1-2 business days in the amount of $1239.25. This balance will automatically be applied to your next purchase. No refunds will be processed to your credit card. To be considered for any future refunds, you must report any electronic code issues within the 24 hour electronic code return policy time frame.”

So, the ending of the story is better than the title shows. But, I did only receive a store credit, which forces me to spend more money with this company.  I certainly appreciate that they finally took care of this, but it took me potentially doing a media blast to get them to actually do something about it.  The phone call, and the email response they sent AFTER I started doing a media blast could have been done at any point in the process, and this post likely would have never been made.

In the end, I still recommend staying away from Gift Card Rescue.

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Chris Potter

Chris Potter is an internet entrepreneur that loves working on businesses and helping others with their businesses. He has operated businesses that have sold over $25 million in retail sales, bought and sold a blog design business, and started websites from scratch. Skyrocket your business by joining his Mentoring Program!

9 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Thanks for the advice! I’m always looking for better deals on Gift cards, but I’ll make sure to stay away from these guys.

  • Hi Chris,

    Thanks for documenting your experience with Gift Card Rescue. I just recently registered with them and after reading this, have just unsubscribed from any future mailings/offers.

    Do you ever use Gift Card Granny, or just stick with the companies you mentioned? Thanks!

    • Gift Card Granny doesn’t actually sell gift cards themselves. They are basically an affiliate site that gathers all the offers from gift card sites. At times, I’ll use Gift Card Granny or Gift Card Wiki to find who has gift cards available (sometimes Gift Card Zen, Raise and Cardpool don’t have stock of a certain company). A couple others I’ve tried and had good experiences with are Gift Card Spread and Gift Card Mart. I just haven’t bought from them enough to really put a huge stamp of approval on them. I haven’t ran into any card issues with either of them yet, and that’s really what sets the different companies apart – how they deal with problems.

      I’ll be putting a new post out this week specifically on gift cards, so I would recommend signing up for the email list if you haven’t already so you can be notified when it comes out!

  • Have you considered contesting this with your credit card company? That’s what I’d probably do at this point. I’ve had decent luck with Gift Card Rescue to date. A probably like you described should never happen since they:

    1. Would know the card/PIN has a problem if they’d attempted to verify the value.
    2. They’d simply taken the issue to the person who sold it to them.

    It’s not the customer’s fault that they screwed something up in their card acquisition process.

    • I did end up getting credit for everything as mentioned in the updates. I used the store credit to purchase more gift cards, and I made sure we used them the same day it was purchased to make sure it was still within their guidelines. So in the end, I ended out not being anything other than a bunch of time and grief.

  • I shouldve read your blog before doing business with Gift Card Rescue. :(
    Gift Card Rescue withheld my GC’s since May 23, 2016. They first confirmed sending me the check on June 4, 2016. Then on July 5, 2016, Giftcardrescue informed me that they will not be able to purchase my gift cards at this time. I need to mail a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Giftcardrescue so that they can return my gift cards. I mailed out the self-addressed, stamped envelope on the same date July 5, 2016. USPS confirmed the letter delivered to Giftcardrescue front desk/reception area on July 11, 2016. Since then, no tracking activities for my self-addressed, stamped envelope, which proves that Giftcardrescue has not mail out and return my gift cards. Even though I got burned on price drops and lost time/effort, I still want to have it resolved and get back my gift cards. :(

  • Well, I have been taken too. After 3 months waiting for a$100 check from them, it bounced. Email said they were out of business.

  • Raise bans you for buying too many Sears/Kmart gift cards.
    I have 4 buddys with suspended Raise accounts from buying too many.

    Their reason originally is Sears/Kmart asked them to no sell. Recently they changed their reason to quite from email

    “We were recently contacted by these brands who related that you have had some difficulties applying gift cards to your orders with them. They advised us at that time that we will not be able to guarantee that you will be able to redeem Sears or Kmart gift cards. In efforts to protect you from any issues that might arise as a result of your purchases with these brands, we have prohibited your ability to purchase these gift cards.”

    Lol… that’s just BS.

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