Help! Macy's Gave Us An "Invalid" $120 Gift Card

Nate and Ashley got some duplicate gifts from Macy’s and attempted to exchange them for store credit. The trouble is, when they tried to spend the gift card they’d be given — they found out that it had never been validated. They’re pretty much resigned to the fact that they’re not getting the $120 in store credit back, but they’d like to let Macy’s know that they were treated very rudely by several employees.

I was wondering if you could give some advice or suggestions. My wife (Ashley) and I got married on April 19th. She had a bridal shower in the middle of March in Saratoga, New York (our Hometown). Like every other bridal shower in the history of modern America, she received 2 coffee grinders and 2 blenders. We did not have a registry but knew that they came from [Macy's]. We did not have gift receipts so we received store credit. They did their typical deal of taking Driver’s License information and issued a easy exchange gift card. The only thing out of the ordinary was it took her a very long time to do the transaction. It was a card for about $120 when it was done.

Fast forward to this month. We went to use the card to get some sheets that were on sale but was told that the card was “invalid” at the register. Not zero balance but the actual card was invalid. She assured us that it was an easy fix and to call corporate. Between March and July we misplaced the register receipt from the return. Ashley called corporate that following workday and was told that the card was invalid that we could return to the store and register that the return was done and they could fix it even with out the receipt. We then called the Macy’s store and a manager confirmed corporate’s story about it being an easy fix.

On Sunday July 20th we went to Macy’s. We went to the register and they employee was very nice and brought us over to the executive office where we met Nick and Rebecca (actual names). From the moment we were introduced they both were extremely rude.

We explained our situation to them and they once again confirmed that card was invalid and concluded that the card was improperly scanned when we made the return. They said that unless we knew the exact date that we returned the items it would be impossible for them to fix the problem. We said that we are not sure because it was 4 months ago but we knew which employee did the return. Nick said that it wouldn’t matter because they don’t save employee schedules and it is all online and they don’t know them and without the date we were out of luck. I explained it was a weekday in late March and that is only 10 days to look at but he refused to listen.

Ashley asked why did they take all of our info when returned it and they said that the only person that has access to that is in some security office and that would be a dead end. Then we asked if they could do an item returned check since we remembered what they were. Nick said that unless we knew the exact color of the items to get the exact UPC numbers this would also be pointless. We went to look for the items only to find they were not longer stocked at the store. Nick once again said that since the items are no longer here we are once again out of luck and they had NO way to look up UPC numbers. A very helpful Wedding Registry Employee said that she could look up UPC numbers using the bridal registry. We found the coffee grinder and Rebecca called some office and was told that that model of grinder was never returned in March.

Nick told us in a very agitated manner that there was nothing else they could do and the ONLY way to fix it was to call my Aunt and get a copy of the purchase receipt and then maybe they could fix it. He said “make up a story” to why you needed it. We explained that that was mildly rude and they basically walked away from us.

My gut feeling was that the transaction was never completed properly when we returned the items. That is why the card was invalid and the UPC search came up empty. If that is the case no amount of searching will find the transaction. We are not even overly concerned about the money as it was only 120$ and a gift. We were much more upset and shocked about the way Nick and Rebecca treated us. They were very rude and condescending the whole time and frequently change their story as to what they were able to do and were caught in several lies and had to backpedal. They never once apologized for the situation or tried to fix the problem without us prompting them on suggestions. I wanted to email someone in Macy’s corporate but I was unable to find an email outside of the standard “Contact Us” on the website. We also looked over your website but came up empty handed. Any direction would be great.

We’d love to help you launch an EECB about this issue, but, sadly, we don’t have much in the way of Macy’s executive customer service info. Of course, you can always follow the instructions located here. We’re pretty sure their emaill address format is firstname.lastname@macys.com.

Anyone got better info to share? tips@consumerist.com

(Photo: smcgee )

Comments

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  1. SkokieGuy says:

    Total supposition here, but with an invalid card an no record of a return, sounds like the clerk who processed the return pocketed the value of the return.

    Misprocess return, give invalid gift card, then correctly process the return another time, issue valid gift card (in clerk’s pocket). Crime not uncovered until gift card is redemmed.

    Surly customer service help who assumes all customers are jerks and scam artists means that the theft goes undiscovered and unpunished.

    • agb2000 says:

      Incorrect supposition – if the employee had done this, the transaction would have shown up on the search for transactions in March of that SKU.

  2. DjDynasty says:

    Since I’m a Macy’s Boycotter, let me provide you the information. Everyone in Chicago is a Macy’s Boycotter.
    800-264-0069 Executive CS.
    Also the CEO is Terry Lundgreen
    151 W. 34th Street
    New York, NY, 10001
    212/695-4400 Flagship Store # Has corporate offices in the building this is the HQ for Macy’s east, Which is where your store issue came from
    Hoovers.com list the following numbers for the Macy’s Inc (including bloomingdales, & their credit card divisions) in Ohio. 7 W. 7th St, Cincinnati, OH 45202
    Phone: 513-579-7000
    Fax: 513-579-7555
    Toll Free: 800-261-5385

  3. jakesprincess says:

    Always, always, always check the balances on newly issued gift cards before leaving the store. You can usually call the number on the back of the card to do so. The last time I got a gift card with purchase at Target the gift card was not activated. I’m glad I checked in the car and was easily able to return to the store to have it corrected; something aboutthe way the cashier just handed me the card felt wrong and when I looked at my receipt, there was no activation shown. This has happened on many occasions. Always check!

  4. Skipweasel says:

    Wedding lists are an odd idea anyway. It ties your friends into buying from one company – you’d think with that going for them Macy’s would recognise that they’re on to a good thing and look after the users better.

    We bypassed the idea and had a spiral-bound notebook and wrote out what we wanted, one item to a page with pictures pasted in if needed. People tore out the pages to select what they were going to buy. No duplicates, no hassle, no tying to one supplier.

  5. Fly Girl says:

    I’m super paranoid about my electronic gift cards not being activated correctly. I keep the receipt, showing the gift card number and balance, taped to the card itself in my wallet.

    I don’t think it’s that crazy to assume that “mistakes” can/will happen and you could walk out with a zero-balance gift card, or somehow the money could be there and then disappear. It obviously happened to this guy.

    And, to the OP, it wasn’t “ONLY 120$ and a gift.” The point is that it WAS $120.00 and a gift. Your aunt spent a lot of money to buy you something nice– not to donate it to the Macy’s Incompetent/Unethical Employee Fund.

    If it was only $10-$20, I wouldn’t waste too much time on it and chalk it up to shit service and a lesson learned. But $120?! Nuh uh. You better pursue that and get your money back.

    At this point, I would explain to your Aunt what happened. I don’t think that her feelings would be hurt– she bought you an item on your gift registry and it happened to be a duplicate. She probably either A.) has the receipt of B.) paid for it on a credit card. Either way, they can probably look up the transaction and get you some help.

    Don’t you think she’d rather see you get a gift than to have her money just thrown away?

  6. Average_Joe says:

    Maybe a report of fraud to the police is in order?

  7. friendlynerd says:

    Macy’s registry = bad times. I recently bought some bowls off of a friend’s registry about a week and a half before their wedding (online.) I would have bought them locally but our Macy’s doesn’t have a home department (which, of course, the website failed to mention – I had to waste my time on a trip there to find that out.)

    The bowls were backordered, but was I ever notified? Nope. Apparently the gift recipient received an email, but how was I to know that? Emailing Macy’s customer service resulted in the same rude, dismissive tone that the OP experienced.

    I suggested that since their system messed up and I was never notified, perhaps they should refund me the $12 I paid to ship 4 soup bowls. They said that it was my mistake and that I was notified, and there would be no compensation.

    Macy’s goes out of their way to make sure registry participants will never be customers again.

  8. Jenng says:
  9. AceEdit says:

    Before leaving the counter that issued the credit, ask for the salesperson to check the cards balance.

  10. SharmisthaTrypticon says:

    I had an issue with my Macy’s charge card recently and had luck
    sending a communication via their own website. I was stunned to
    receive a separate email from the local store manager apologizing.
    The registers (point of sale stations) should have cameras above each
    of them. I know when I worked for Target Corp. we could pull this
    video and do a side by side comparison of what the cashier was keying
    into the register to determine actions, etc. Push the issue with
    Macy’s and ask them to investigate. If they have video and can pull
    transaction information, they should be able to ascertain what you
    returned vs. what was issued.

  11. Dimmy says:

    To offset all the negativeness, I was married last year, and had a good experience with Macys wedding registry and their returns dept. as well as their gift cards. The key from my experience is being aware that you have to keep your paperwork until such a time that you’ve used up or moved on. If you return an item and put the balance on a gift card, they give you a receipt for that transaction. If you keep that receipt I haven’t had any issues resolving problems.

    The only issue we ever had was when we decided to cancel an order that we partially paid for with a gift card. It took a long time for the gift card to be refunded, although this was done eventually after we kept bothering them about it.

    Macys provides a lot of paperwork, and if you keep it you usually have all the information that they require to help you.

  12. INTPLibrarian says:

    @Skipweasel and @friendlynerd: According to the story, OP didn’t *have* a registry. Not with Macy’s, nor elsewhere.

    Not that I don’t love reading Consumerist anyway, but this is one story that might actually make me do something differently. I’ve never even thought to check if a gift card was validated. Now I will!

  13. friendlynerd says:

    @INTPLibrarian:
    Definitely didn’t say they did, but thanks.

  14. carso says:

    On it.

  15. hvsteve1 says:

    Skokieguy may be right. This could have been employee fraud. In any case, go back to the store and ask for loss prevention. Don’t let any managers sidetrack you, they could get in trouble for doing so. I know as a former employee (of Filene’s in New York, where you would have been treated much better) I know LP has computer tracking on every register transaction for a long period of time. I’ve seem them produce duplicate register tapes from months earlier. If you recall the register and employee, they will probably want to do a computer search.

  16. Carso says:

    The old “federated-fds.com” e-mail addresses no longer work and will never reach their intended destination.

    The “terry.j.lundgren@macys.com” address published above is a dummy address and messages sent to that location will not reach their intended destination.

  17. Carso says:

    @hvsteve1: This.

  18. bobpence says:

    Keep your receipts. Period. Keep your receipts, including return receipts, until you are more willing to swallow the loss than to hold onto a slip of paper.

  19. KristinaBeana says:

    Oh my, this is a bad situation. First of all, escalate. Call the store again, and ask the name and number for the Regional Vice President – this is to whom the store manager reports. Since you know the name of the employee it is simple to look up every transaction that employee has completed on any register for at least the past 6 months. They used to print these out, but I do not think they make hard copies anymore, and someone would actually have to take the time to look through them on the (really amazingly outdated) computer. Remind them that there key phrase for every dealing with any customer is “outstanding” and that you were treated, well, outstandingly poorly.

  20. colorisnteverything says:

    Ugh… Macy’s upsets more customers with a lack of customer service. No surprise. Reason number one why State Street makes me want to cry.

  21. Stormslanding says:

    A young couple walks into the store with an unactivated card that is supposed to have an amount over $100. They have no documentation, even though its store policy to give a receipt with the gift card total on it when the card is given, to prove it. They cannot provide any specific information and are reluctant to go to an Aunt who had has the original receipt.

    Do you really expect a store to bend over backwards for you? Frankly I was suprised they didn’t threaten to call the cops on you.

  22. NotATool says:

    “Only” $120? Huh? That’s quite a bit of cash there to just throw away. That *almost* makes me wonder how legitimate the OP is, since OP is more concerned about rude treatment than $120.

    Assuming the OP is legit…I second the idea of contacting the aunt, explain the situation, and see if she can help. Duplicate registry items are SO common (OP even starts the article by basically stating so).

  23. coren says:

    @NotATool: Because good customer service is more valuable than 100 bucks, something fishy is going on? I don’t buy it…

    It’s funny, my mother keeps every gift card receipt ever, and every couple months follows up to see if you’ve used it (so that she knows it was done properly and can toss the receipt). Except with mine – I live in a non expiring gift card state so I just hoard the things until I want something or a great sale is happening (like the recent Barnes&Noble clearance sale). So when I bought an Xbox with just Best Buy Rewards and cards, guess who couldn’t figure out where my receipts (some of them 5 years old or more) were?

    So I definitely understand where the OP is coming from. Escalate.

  24. DROD says:

    I worked at Macy’s as a manager for quite some time and I found the best way to settle disputes was to ask the Loss Prevention team to verify the transaction by reviewing the tapes. Every register has a camera pointed at it and the viewer can easily see the customer, the items he/she is returning and the way the cashier handles the transaction. It takes some legwork, but since you know the employee’s name, it should be easy to find where she was at and if she didn’t complete the transaction. LP should still have the video, as most keep it for over 6 months, plus you don’t need any UPC numbers!

  25. audiochick says:

    I think Macy’s could have handled the situation better, but I totally understand about not being able to look up a transaction unless you know exactly what date it was made on. A couple of retail jobs I worked in the past were like that. Register journals and transaction reports were filed by date. You’d be surprised how many people thought we could just look up their previous transactions using their Visa or Mastercard number! Your best bet is to try to figure out the date of your return. Once Macy’s has that information, they should be able to find the return in their records.

  26. quirkyrachel says:

    @DjDynasty: Not everyone in Chicago is a Macy’s Boycotter.
    I seriously don’t like the fact that Federated came in and destroyed Marshall Field’s. *But* they provide decent products and quite frankly boycotting them only hurts the people who work there, also known as Chicagoans. Every time I’m at the State Street store I’m struck by how nice the people are who work there. (I don’t shop at the Water Tower store because, as a 28 yo woman, there’s nothing there for me).

  27. temporaryerror says:

    @audiochick: I used to work at radioshack (I know…but desperate times call for desperate measures) and we actually COULD look up a receipt with just the charge card/debit card number. They have a fairly well equipped receipt look up system, but that doesn’t stop lazy employees from claiming that it’s impossible to find old tickets.

  28. audiochick says:

    @temporaryerror: Scary. Keeping CC numbers for reference? Yikes!

  29. woohhaa says:

    Physical violence is never the answer, but it might make you feel better.

  30. NotATool says:

    @coren: So we disagree. I personally find that statement to be unusual. Maybe if $120 is a drop in the bucket, no big deal. But to me, it’s not something to just give up on.

    The OP got the worst of all possible outcomes here. Bad customer service and no $$.

    The OP is essentially stating that they could live with a $120 loss if they had received good customer service.

    I would find it preferable to receive bad customer service, yet get my $120 back.

    Of course the best situation is good customer service and getting the $120 back.

  31. Karl says:

    If Macy’s won’t listen, perhaps you could force them to by taking them to small claims court and subpoenaing the security video and transaction logs. They might very well have footage of you returning the item, with no corresponding transaction in their system.

  32. leon.desoto says:

    Someone may have already said this but I didn’t see it in any post. As a former (thankfully) employee of Macy’s, I can tell you that all gift cards, EGC’s, have to be validated when the store receives them. Usually this is done by someone in the cash office, sometimes LP. If the card was not validated BEFORE it reached the floor, it would be no good. Now, when I worked there, it would have been obvious the card wasn’t valid, but that was in the good old days before the only requirement to work there was to be a zombie. They’ve changed their system since then, and I believe it’s possible this is what happened. We used to have truckloads of these at the store where I worked.

  33. SeanOHara says:

    @Stormslanding: Gift card/store vouchers do indeed get abused, and often times people will simply forget that they used the card already and only have $.23 left.

    However, there are ways of finding out if that’s happened and nail the people. If the manager believes there’s been a genuine SNAFU, he has the power to rectify the problem, though it might take half an hour on the phone to do it — you definitely want to do this on a Tuesday morning if you can.

    Major returns usually require an ID so stores can keep track of people, and if they have this problem a lot the system will catch them.

  34. amv09 says:

    i work at macy’s and although from your story it does seem a kinda impossible to look it up, macy’s (at least my store) wants to keep its customers happy, so its not uncommon for them just to give you a new gift card, you just have to insist on it. I don’t know why they didn’t just do this in your case. One thing you can do is go to macys.com/tellus and write your complaint. These emails go to the store manager which will be able to solve your problem easily and in very little time usually like in an hour. They just have to approve it and they usually do. Like i said, this is how things work at my store and I’m from another division (macy’s west) but i hope this works out for you.

  35. DjDynasty says:

    What I find odd, is I have had Macy’s flat out HAND me gift cards just because of complaining. We’re not talking little amounts either. I’ve gotten over $500 in giftcards since 9-9-06 which I used to purchase frangos. http://www.macys.com/tellus they listen to those survey’s rub it in their face they are a failure, and screw ups like this are the reason why Nordstrom, Carson’s, JC Pennys, and hell, even Sears can run a better business than the failures in NYC!

  36. parungaj says:

    Don’t know if this helps much but when I had a complaint with Macy’s, I filled out the “Contact Us” page. There you will find a tab “Tell us what you think” and afterwards click on “In-store experience.” I had an extremely aggravating experience with Macy’s makeup counter. I was trying to return a concealer I had bought a week earlier. I had already confirmed with the counter if I could return it for any reason. The concealer, of course, looked different in outdoor sunlight. The only mark on the concealer was a single thumbprint from getting just a scratch of color. When I returned it at different Macy’s (the one closer to my home), the girls at the counter were extremely rude and obviously did not want to process my order. I told them the situation and they replied “I needed to get it returned at the original Macy’s I bought it from.” The argument I had even surprised another customer waiting to be served because she was under the impression you can return makeup. Anyways, I brought it back at the original store, told the saleslady…she was incensed as I was and told me to fill out the online form. I remembered all the names of the salespeople that was involved and included it in my email form. I really thought that was the last I would hear from them (cause who really reads a nationwide internet base..they must get thousands of emails!) but just writing it made me feel better a little bit. Little did I know, I received a phone call a couple days later. It was the president of the Macy’s store where I had the incident. She called to sincerely apologize for her store and that I was correct that the makeup could be returned even if all that was left was the container. I told her I was shocked that anyone would even read my letter and she said the database forwards it directly to her office and that they are required to read it and respond. She told me to apologize for the experience she was going to send a gift certificate in the mail. I think it’s very important to remember the names because the president actually knew the makeup girls (she had worked with them when she first started) that accepted my return (I think it validated my claim). A week later, I was surprised with a $50 gift certificate. I was very happy and a loyal Macy’s 3rd generation customer.

    PS. I would give you the president’s name and number but this happened at Burbank Mall in CA.

  37. KimmyAnne_678 says:

    I agree with the other posters. Use the service survey at macys.com/tellus . The store manager receives each of these and reads them all (at least at my store). The company is big on keeping the scores received from that survey high, so they usually do anything at all to keep customers happy.

    At our store, the people at the Customer Service/Gift Wrap are the unfortunate souls that get stuck digging through thousands of transactions to find lost gift cards/etc. so you may also want to check with them, they may be willing to help.

    Try to think of anything that may narrow down the date that this happened on. Do you remember watching a certain TV show that evening, paying something by check or debit on the same trip to the mall where you could check in that account for the date? No excuse for the poor manner in which the OP was treated, but knowing the date the return happened would give the store employees no reason not to help.

  38. austinchu says:

    I work for a company that manages and tracks gift cards and I follow gift card related issues on savvywallet. Sadly enough these stories come up all the time. Everyone here have made some great suggestions. This should be lesson we should all take seriously. Gift cards are extremely lucrative for business as well as the state. Typically unredeemed gift card funds goes to the state, certain states have different laws. Also pay attention to gift cards expiring. I can go on and on. Peace out.

  39. beboptheflop says:

    It really is a very simple fix that doesn’t require the OP to go the Terry Lundgren route. Simply go back to the store and ask to speak to the Home Store department manager, if not there, then just ask to speak to the store manager. The managers that the OP got were most likely asst.mgrs. that don’t know just how easy this situation is to fix. As an earlier poster noted, LP (Loss Prevention) can look up your receipt with a round about knowledge of the date, as long as you know what register is was rung on. They then can see if a gift card was activated and what the card # was and match it to yours or not. Sometimes, associates can royally screw up a gift card return and they may think it has gone through, and it actually hasn’t. This is probably what happened to you. In my previous life, I had the “pleasure” of being a Bridal Department manager for Federated Stores and I promise you, this problem can be corrected.

  40. Carso says:

    I asked for my information to be forwarded to the OP (a request the Consumeristas have graciously accommodated before) and so far no word from Nate or Ashley. I hope they get in touch with me so that I can find out more about what exactly went wrong here and try to set it right.

  41. npage148 says:

    OP here-

    The situation has been competely resolved. I was contacted by several high ranking staffers who fowarded my infromation down to the store level. The store manager (Mark) called me and offered to send me a new gift card ASAP (something Nick said was impossible). The 2 asst. mangers I delt with in the store had a collective of 35+ years at Macy’s, so I don’t think they could play the ignorance card in not being able to fix the prob or knowing how to without rudely going to my Aunt. So it is all fixed. Thanks for all the help getting me in contact with some very helpful senior staff.

    I was hesitant to use the store’s website to get in touch becasue it has never worked for me in the past and seems like a constant dead end with a form letter reply. I will remebmber for Macy’s it actually goes to someone.

    As for it “only” being 120$. It was never money out of my pocket, it was a gift I had no use for. So was never really out anything. And what kind of scammers would fight so insistantly about getting it fixed including finding the items on the self, knowing the names of them, the name of the employee and other retarded details. I’ve delt with scammers, you tell them no and they run away.

  42. Carso says:

    For the record, I’ve been in contact with OP, who told me that the situation has been resolved to his satisfaction. Thanks, Consumerist!

  43. Charlotte Rae's Web says:

    @Skipweasel: That might work for a simple wedding but when you have 200 people coming from all over the place, a notebook isn’t going to work.