Once a target of theft, now he’s on Target for a new gift card
Updated: March 28, 2012 5:15PM
Dear Fixer: I bought a $60 gift card at a Target store in San Diego for a friend who let me stay with them while I was out there.
When my friend went to use the card three days later, there was no balance on it. I called Target’s corporate number and they gave me transaction numbers showing the card was used.
I called the store and explained what happened, and they said they would look into it. The store manager called me back and said someone used a picture of the gift card on his cellphone when he made the fraudulent purchase. The person cashing him out manually entered the gift-card number from the image on the guy’s cellphone, which they’re never supposed to do.
The manager clearly admitted it was fraud! But the store said corporate was the only one that could help me out.
The people at the store have been really great through this. However, I still am left with a gift card with no money on it. I kept trying to call corporate to explain the store admitted the purchase was rung up in a way not according to Target’s policy.
Why am I told there is nothing they can do? With all this evidence, it should be a no-brainer. You guys are my last hope!
Dear Joe: Plenty of shoppers use coupons on their phones and lots of consumers redeem gift cards online, but having a cashier type in a gift-card number from an image on a phone seems out of the ordinary.
We’re guessing the thief took gift cards, scratched off redemption codes, photographed them and placed them back in the display, but that’s just a theory.
Weirder still was Target’s initial reaction when Team Fixer brought this to their attention. First, spokeswoman Meghan Mike said the company is “committed to protecting guests against fraudulent purchases,” but suggested that you contact the San Diego Police for help. Later, they apparently had a change of heart and decided to correct this. Target has notified you that they’ll give you a replacement gift card.
Dear Fixer: This is another complaint about bad customer service for your “bad manners” columns. Some time ago, I visited a suburban car dealership on a Saturday. They were busy, so instead of sending a salesman with me on the test drive, they just took a copy of my driver’s license and insurance info and let me drive alone.
I’ve lived at my home for almost 20 years, and I’ve never been in trouble with the law. But they called the police because they said I had the car out too long.
As I pulled back into their lot, a police cruiser followed me in. Then the salesperson told me they would not order the extras I wanted or the color.
A week later, the salesman called and asked if I was still interested in the car. I told him no, because he had called the cops on me — and because I was able to get the color and extras I wanted at another dealership!
Dear Margo: Thanks for providing a reminder about why customer service matters. And at a minimum, not calling 911 on your customers!
And now, read on for another perspective:
Dear Fixer: Sometimes the consumers are the ones with bad manners. I worked at a store in Glenview and at least once a day someone would come up to pay while talking on a cellphone. They would continue their conversation without acknowledging that someone was ringing up their purchases. If I had a question — credit or debit? — I would get a death glare. How dare I be so rude?
It made me feel pretty small to be treated this way — like I was a lesser person.
Dear Julie: We agree; it’s the ultimate insult for consumers to yak on the phone while someone is working hard to help them. These dolts not only are clueless about their own transactions, but they also hold up the line.
Kim was in no shape to purchase a vehicle, and the used-car dealer knew it. If this were a happier story, he would have advised Kim to think awhile before making a major purchase. But instead, he went for her throat. Here’s what happened:
Kim’s husband had died. She had just received the life insurance money and decided to use some of it to buy a van. But it was overwhelming.
“At the dealership I became distraught and was crying. ... As I was talking to the finance person, I was ready to write a check for the full amount,” Kim wrote to The Fixer. “He told me to just pay for half of it and I could pay the rest off the next day if I wanted to.”
This, of course, made no sense — though Kim wasn’t in any shape to think straight. Why would she finance part of the car if she had the money to pay cash upfront?
“I did as he suggested just so I could get out of there. The next day, I called the number he gave me to pay the car off and was told I couldn’t as they had not received the paperwork and did not know how much the payoff would be.”
You guessed it: They had put Kim into a loan. And by now, she owed interest. She refused to pay the interest and later learned the financing company had a lien on the van.
Buying a new or used vehicle is one of the most stressful of purchases. You can improve your chances by not shopping in times of crisis — or, if you must do so, bring a strong friend who can watch your back.
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