Probably Why HomeDepot.com, et al, Doesn't Accept Gift Cards

Here’s a probable answer for that reader who complained Friday that HomeDepot.com won’t let you use gift cards, forcing him to drive 20 miles away to get his tool fix. It’s probably better than driving all the way there, only to find his gift card was empty. If you recall, last year there was a big problem with thieves stealing git cards….

What they do is write down or take cameraphone pix of the gift cards in the stores before they are sold to customers. They periodically check in online to see if the cards have been sold and activated. Once they see the card is live, they order a bunch of stuff online with the stolen gift card numbers. By requiring the gift card be physically present, retailers, not just Home Depot, are hoping to prevent fraud. Takeaway: before buying loved ones gift cards this season, check to see if the cards can only be used in the flesh, and then make sure they live near a retail location.

PREVIOUSLY: HomeDepot.com Does Not Accept Home Depot Gift Cards

RELATED: Gift Cards Are New Source of Scams

(Photo: IHP)

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  1. DeeJayQueue says:

    yeah, this is why a lot of gift cards have the scratch off pin on the back for use online. If you get a card that has this scratched off already, get a different one.

  2. Beerad says:

    Would an easy way to solve this be to generate an online-useable code when the gift card is purchased, and then the code gets given to the recipient with the card? I guess that would require, I don’t know, some sort of integrated computer network? Probably too much to hope for at a big retailer.

  3. Beerad says:

    @DeeJayQueue: Or just what that guy/lady said.

  4. bigsss says:

    Thanks for clearing the air. Most large companies are looking out for consumers and trying to protect them from scam artist. That’s why Home Depot and many other online stores do not accept gift cards online and require the cards to be present.

  5. savvy999 says:

    …or maybe not have the cards out on display where thieves could take pictures of them or write the #s down. Maybe only sell the cards at the register, or the customer service desk?

    That way only employees could steal, after hours, like it used to be.

  6. vanilla-fro says:

    @Beerad: that’s a good idea, of course that’s why it won’t happen.

  7. specialed5000 says:

    @bigsss:
    “Most large companies are looking out for consumers.”

    Ummm…what?

  8. smitty1123 says:

    You know, the US government has an absolutely wonderful gift card that can be used just about anywhere… it’s called cash.

  9. Murph1908 says:

    Translation:

    “We bought, through a vendor, thousands of these gift cards in which the number can be seen prior to purchase. We encountered an issue with theft of this number via thieves smarter than us. But, instead of tossing the thousands that we have left, and taking a loss creating new cards with a simple method to prevent this type of fraud (scratch-off covering of the number), we have chosen to inconvenience a client base that’s loyal enough to buy our gift cards in the first place.”

  10. Beerad says:

    @smitty1123: Yeah, except for some reason when I stick my cash into the little slot on my computer to buy something online, it never works!

  11. Snarkysnake says:

    I’m a bail bondsman. I deal with these thieves all the time. The vast majority of these douchenozzles are doing this to get enough money (eventually,after they’ve fenced the goods that YOU bought for them for pennies on the dollar) to stay high for 36- 72 hours,tops.There ‘s not a system in use now that these thieving bastards can’t defeat. Now I hate the bullshit games that these companies play with gift cards just as much as the next guy,but I can see why they are forced to do this.It may not be any consolation ,but the next time that you give cash or a check to someone for Christmas,don’t think of it as a sterile,impersonal act ! Just remember that you are forcing some meth head or crack junkie to spend THEIR Christmas in their unheated trailer with broken windows and nothing to eat but a flat Mountain Dew and half a box of Cap’n Crunch because they couldn’t figure out how to steal your gift card balance.Happy holidays !

  12. @Snarkysnake: Except for the Meth and Crack, that’s how I spent last Christmas. I don’t suggest putting the mountain dew into the cap’n crunch though.

  13. smitty1123 says:

    @Beerad: Ok, I’m either a: stupid or b: “having a case of the Mondays”, because I read the article and immediately started thinking about why I don’t like gift cards and totally glossed over the fact that it was about online usage. Gaaa, this doesn’t bode well for the week…

  14. SaraAB87 says:

    This is why if I ever give a gift card, the reciept always gets given with it. If I ever end up with a gift card from a store and its from an exchange I always keep the reciept as well. Stores will help you out if you have proof that you purchased the gift card, and that proof is a reciept. But your better off giving cash as other people mentioned.

  15. Buran says:

    If a store tries to “protect” me by stopping me from choosing to purchase from them however I wish to purchase from them, I will “protect” myself by shopping at the competition.

    If I got an empty gift card, I would be informing the purchaser immediately so that they could file a chargeback with their credit card issuer if the store refused to make it right.

  16. Buran says:

    @Snarkysnake: No one’s forced to do anything. In fact, they’ll be forced to fix their broken system when they find that their customers are shopping at the guys with the gift cards that have scratchoff ink over the PIN and therefore don’t screw over customers by denying choice of how to order.

  17. Wow this guy has to drive 20 miles to go to a HD? What a terrible world he lives in that he can’t ride in a car for 25 minutes without complaining.

  18. krunk4ever says:

    @savvy999: unfortunately, gift cards rack are like those candy racks at supermarkets. they’re placed near checkout to tempt you to buy them. without them sitting out there, one can presume that sales of gift cards would drop.

  19. Buran says:

    @RamV10: What if he wants an online-only item? Who are you to decree that the complaint is BS?

  20. krunk4ever says:

    @DeeJayQueue: i’ve gotten many best buy gift cards and that’s exactly what they have. the account # is visible, but the 4 or 5 digit pin isn’t.

    one could assume to protect it even further, to make the pin have more digits and fail after x # of tries online. to unlock the card, you’ll have to call a specific number to unlock it by providing the correct pin.

  21. chrispiss says:

    Cards usually have a number with scratch-off stuff covering it up. If Home Depot cards don’t have that, they’re stupid.

  22. cde says:

    @Beerad: Really great idea /not-sarcasm

    And the Home Depot cards around me are barcode only, not mag-stripe. The better scam is printing a photocopy of a different barcode, taping it to a valid card, then using the self checkout.

  23. JohnMc says:

    Ben, here is the bigger take away — why don’t the retailers put the damn cards in sealed packaging. Then just make the rule that is the packaging is broken before the sale the card is void. That prevents both the motivation and the loss to the end user.

    God this is not that hard.

  24. jmackowi says:

    I love all the sarcastic comments that HD doesn’t know what they’re doing. They are so well researched and thought out!

    I just used a Home Depot gift card on Sunday. It has a scratch off PIN on the back that I had to use, even though I was physically in the store. This shouldn’t be too hard to do online, and I would expect that it will be available at some point. One thing you can say about big box retailers is that they are not a group that likes to make it difficult for customers to spend money.

  25. mthrndr says:

    “last year there was a big problem with thieves stealing git cards….”

    Man, thieves must really love annoying british people. har har har

  26. derobert says:

    I can think of several ways to prevent people from photographing the numbers w/o purchasing the card. Examples:

    ‣ Only print the number on the back of the card. Attach card to cardboard backing in tamper-evident way with back of card to cardboard.
    ‣ Place an opaque tamper-evident seal over the number on the front of card. Can even be retrofitted to existing cards.
    ‣ Print a PIN number on the receipt; require this number for purchases. Or have the cashier write this number on the card using a sharpie after purchase.

    If someone attempts to purchase a card that has been tampered with, grab a non-tampered one and sell that one instead.

  27. ironpete0827 says:

    I had an episode today at my local home depot that infuriated me. I tried to return two gifts I received for x-mas and was told I could not get a refund and I had to take the store credit. When I asked to speak to the manager on duty I was denied. Then to top it all off I helped a lady and her young son who were struggling to load 8 ft sheets of plywood into her truck while the contractor salesman sat looking out the window at them. I am totally turned off by home dumpyard now