Home Depot Won't Let Me Use My Electronic Gift Certificate Without Printout

Lucas saved up his credit card reward points to buy a Home Depot eGift Card with the understanding that he only needed the number to make a purchase. A Home Depot clerk denied his purchase, insisting she needed to see a physical copy.

He writes:

I had used my Amex rewards points to buy a $100 Home Depot eGift Card and used it most of it that day. On the following Friday I returned to the store to purchase some additional items and was informed by the cashier that she could not accept the gift card die to I did not have a physical copy and her store manager was pissed that one had been accepted the day before (mine).

I informed the cashier that nowhere was I informed I had to have a physical copy and that if she entered the number in the eGift Card it would work. She refused to let me use my gift card and I paid for my purchase with my debit card. When I contacted the assistant store manager the next day she said that a physical copy needed to be present and I informed her that what I had read regarding the eGift Card it said I only needed to show the number to the cashier. She said she would get back to me on November 1st and I still have not heard back. What should I do?

Home Depot’s FAQs backs the cashier, saying a print-out of the eGift Card is necessary. But since the clerk admitted it was possible to authorize a gift card by simply using the number, it seems Home Depot is making Lucas jump through an unnecessary hoop.

If you’ve ever had a valid gift card denied, how did you fight back?

Comments

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  1. danmac says:

    It seems like this policy exists to protect people from having their gift card numbers used by third parties. Furthermore, it appears that this is Home Depot policy. Personally, I don’t see a problem here.

  2. devwar says:

    I’m with Home Depot here. What is stopping me from going into Home Depot, memorizing Gift Card numbers, and then trying to use them by just writing them down at some point in the future? They want the print out for a valid reason (that you have some physical connection to the number).

    • shepd says:

      What’s to stop you from either paying for a giftcard once and modifying the printout for a new number, or just creating a printout that looks realistic and using that instead?

      If the cashier takes the printout, just print it at a library.

  3. DanRydell says:

    It’s not an unnecessary hoop. It makes theft of gift card numbers somewhat more difficult by forcing the thief to put more effort into making a counterfeit.

    Of course it’s not 100% effective, but the minor inconvenience of having to print the gift card is the price you pay for the convenience of not having to wait for one in the mail.

  4. DanRydell says:

    In before someone equates taking precautions against theft with treating your customers like thieves.

  5. SecretShopper: pours out a lil' liquor for the homies Wasp & Otter says:

    yeah I don’t see the bfd if the Home Depot policy is you need the card present to use the card usually i’m with the OP but this time it looks like he has to remember his gift card next time

  6. valleyval says:

    “Lucas saved up his credit card reward points to buy a Home Depot eGift Card with the understanding that he only needed the number to make a purchase.”

    Make that “with the assumption”.

  7. Virginia Consumer says:

    The cash register computer doesn’t have eyes and doesn’t give a rats ass if you have the physical paper or an iphone (although it might be jealous of the iphone). It just wants the number. it is up to the human factor (the cashier) to prevent abuse and fraud of the ecard system.

    Disclaimer: I do not work for Home Depot, but am a computer programmer.

    One way to make this more consistant would be to print a bar code in the email, but again the cashier could just enter the number as well.

  8. DarthCoven says:

    Guy doesn’t follow clearly stated company policy when attempting to use gift card. Company denies him use of gift card unless he follows said policy.

    Why does Phil still have a job?

  9. Daverson says:

    “Home Depot’s FAQs backs the cashier, saying a print-out of the eGift Card is necessary.”

    So, Lucas, what you should do is bring a print-out next time. The end.

    • FredKlein says:

      “Home Depot’s FAQs backs the cashier, saying a print-out of the eGift Card is necessary.”

      So, Lucas, what you should do is bring a print-out next time. The end.

      Funny. I don’t see in the FAQs where a printout is required. it has lots of statements like this: “Just print it out or email it to someone…”, which offer printing as an OPTION, not a requirement. Also, it says “The eGift Card can be used in our retail stores or online at homedepot.com.” How can I use it online if I need to show them a printout? Do i need to mail the printout to them before they ship my items?

      More from the FAQs:

      “eGift Cards…can be printed out….” Can, not “must”.

      “You may either forward the eGift Card alert message to your friend, or print the eGift Card and give it to him or her.” Note: “OR” print it out.

      etc.

  10. grumpskeez says:

    Milton would just burn the place down

  11. Skellbasher says:

    So Home Depot is being criticized for holding a customer to a stated and reasonable policy?

    Makes perfect sense!!!

  12. Joedel263 says:

    Tomorrows story:

    “Customer upset because someone guessed their gift card number and fraudulently used it on the other side of the country”

    +1 for The Home Depot

  13. wrjohnston91283 says:

    But since the clerk admitted it was possible to authorize a gift card by simply using the number, it seems Home Depot is making Lucas jump through an unnecessary hoop.

    I can have a clerk enter in a valid (but not mine) credit card number. Does that mean they should just enter in whatever numbers I happen to have written down?

  14. parliboy says:

    Early Consumerist post:
    Vincent Ferrari records AOL cancellation procedure, helps bring them to their knees.

    Modern Consumerist post:
    Customer complains when cashier follows posted policy.

    WTH?

    In regard to the question asked at the end of Mr. Villareal’s post. I’ve never had a valid gift card denied. Then again, by this post, Lucas hasn’t had an invalid gift card denied either.

    BTW: If you order online, you can use your gift card number there, too. It doesn’t take a large purchase to enable free shipping.

  15. pop top says:

    I can’t use e-coupons without having a physical copy of them, why would using an e-gift card be any different? Just another Phil article…

  16. Zerkaboid says:

    Could you just write the number on a post-it and hand that to her as the physical copy?

  17. jaredwilliams says:

    This was a pointless complaint. grow up

  18. farker says:

    Bummer, but what really happened was the first time the cashier was a doofus and didn’t know what protocol was. So OP runs into someone following protocol and gets upset by that? Sorry buddy, you don’t have any recourse here. Print out the number and bring it back next time.

  19. EverCynicalTHX says:

    It makes perfect sense they would do that to protect the holder of the gift card and I see no financial benefit for them to have that policy other than to protect the customer.

  20. Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

    “What should I do?” – Lucas

    “Print out a copy of the eGift Card and be done with it.” – Me

  21. Disappointed says:

    If I were Lucas, I would have just gone home, printed out the eGift Card, and gone back to Home Depot, then used the card to pay for my items.

    Oh, and I would not have complained to the store manager or to the Consumerist.

  22. quail says:

    Sorry, but like many commenting I side with the retailer. It wouldn’t take much for someone to hack an email and discover a tasty eGift Card ready for the taking. (Hopefully that’s why I hope they force people to enter a secured website in order to print the card directly.)

  23. rng72 says:

    I feel for you but almost all gift card now need an activation code that is on the receipt. I think you are are SOL.

  24. RAtwins says:

    There is a barcode on the eGift certificate.

    I cashed in my points for one the other day. I printed it, brought it with me, scanned it at the self serve check out and I left with the items I was trying to purchase. Not that big of a deal really. Unless the person redeeming the points doesn’t have a printer, I guess.

  25. coren says:

    “I broke the rules before, I know you can break the rules, so break the rules for me now”

  26. pyrobryan says:

    How pointless was this? I want my 2 minutes back. Policy says it must be printed in order to be used. He didn’t print it. He doesn’t get to use it. If someone had gotten a hold of this number last time he used it, maybe someone standing behind him in line, and used the number to make their own purchase, Lucas would be crying that they let him use the number without proof that it was his. Sorry, Lucas. Looks like you should have read the rules instead of making assumptions.