You Meant A $15 Starbucks Gift Card, Not $50? That's Too Bad

It was an understandable mistake: Ann writes that she asked for a fifteen-dollar gift card from Starbucks. The person at the counter processed a fifty-dollar gift card instead. But the Starbucks point-of-sale system isn’t set up to handle this kind of unforeseen circumstance, so Ann is out fifty bucks for the next month or so while Starbucks customer service sorts this out.

Ann wrote to Consumerist:

On December 14th I experienced a rather bothersome problem in purchasing a Starbucks gift card in Washington state. I paid by VISA.

I asked for a $15 card, and instead got a $50. The sales person tried to void the sale and credit my VISA card, but was unable to, and asked the store manager for help. The store manager also tried and couldn’t. The manager said she’d call me once she spoke to someone in headquarters. Later in the day she left me a message, saying that the system has no way to void a gift card purchase. She was very apologetic, and directed me to call the customer service number on the back of the gift card. Her other suggestion was that I turn in the $50 card for several smaller ones. When I made the phone call to customer service, the person was very polite, but the end result was that my refund request goes to “research” and may take 30 days before a refund check is sent to me. My Visa card could not be credited.

So I’ll certainly be more careful if I ever purchase another gift card from Starbucks. Some of the other coffee shops seem more attractive to me.

This site generally takes an anti-gift card stance, and giving cash would have saved Ann a lot of frustration. Yet this almost makes the gift card malls that have popped up in grocery and big-box stores look appealing: at least the amount is fixed on the card in advance.