How A Sears Promotion Gobbled Up $25 Of My Money

Kenneth isn’t quite sure what to do. He bought enough men’s clothing items at Sears to trigger a deal giving him a restricted $25 gift card to Sears. Hooray! Only when he came back to return some of the items, the card’s value was deducted from his refund, forcing him to spend $25 more at Sears than he had ever planned to.

The week before Father’s Day, I ran into an odd situation at Sears, and now I don’t know what to do.

I bought some clothes (shirt, shorts, swim trunks, etc) and unknowingly triggered a Father’s Day deal where you got a $25 gift card if you bought more than $50 in Men’s Apparel.

I thought “Hey that’s nice, a free 25 bucks. Oh, it says you can’t use it until after Father’s Day. No big deal, I’m sure I’ll be back.”

Later that week I went to return some of the items (shorts didn’t fit right, for example), and as I stood in line I realized that the system could be gamed if they didn’t have a way to compensate.

Would they take back the gift card? They had to have some kind of rule in place – or else what’s to stop people from just returning all their stuff and getting a free 25 bucks?

Well, as I approached the register I noticed a small sign saying something to the effect of “the amount of the gift card will be deducted from your refund”.

Here’s the fine print.

That was understandable, if annoying, since the store had now basically converted my normal cash refund into store credit, on the card.

After I returned my stuff I went and got other things (correctly-sized shorts, for example) and returned to checkout. I still wasn’t annoyed because I was going to spend the money there anyway, so in essence all I had missed out on was the gift card.

“I’m sorry,” said the cashier, pointing to my gift card, “but you can’t redeem that until after Father’s Day.” Crap. I had forgotten. So I whipped out my credit card and went on my merry way.

Only later did I realize that instead of having 50 worth of merchandise and 25 on a gift card, I had spent roughly 50 on merchandise… and now had 25 dollars of my own money sitting on a Sears Gift Card with an expiration date.

I had essentially bought myself a 25 dollar gift card, and my money was going to expire half way into July if I didn’t spend it at Sears. They had just earned 75 dollars worth of my patronage when all I wanted was 50 bucks worth of shorts and what not.

I’m not even mad at Sears, since they had to protect themselves against people trying to work loopholes. But now I’m out 25 extra dollars I didn’t want to spend there, and if I don’t I’m flushing my money down the drain.

Yes, there were things he could have done differently: an even exchange of one item for another, or taking the items back before Father’s Day. We’ll fix that as soon as a $25 Sears gift card buys a time machine.

He could trade the card for cash if he knows someone who plans to make a purchase at Sears in the next… uh… week. Otherwise, any other ideas?