Reader O. wanted to preorder a new game from 2012 Worst Company in America champ EA, and he wanted to use some money that he had on a Walmart gift card. Fair enough. What he did have was a $50 Walmart gift card and some cash. Walmart theoretically carries EA gift cards, so he should have been able to visit his nearest Wally World, pick up a card, take it home, and pre-order a delicious Crysis 3 download. Indeed, he was able to do that, but only after he took a pocketful of cash across the street and bought his desired EA gift card at GameStop. You can use a Walmart gift card for anything that the store sells…except prepaid debit cards.
I decided that I wanted to preorder a new PC game coming out called Crysis 3. Origin(the digital distribution platform for Electronic Arts) is offering a great pre-order sale on it that I was interested in participating in. I had a Walmart giftcard left over from the Holidays in the amount of $50. According to EA, Walmart is supposed to carry their gift cards(see the attached picture).
Easy enough, I head out thinking I’ll just go up to Walmart, transfer my Walmart Giftcard into an EA gift card in the amount of $50(or 2-$20 ones if need be) and be on my way. Unfortunately, I get there and can not locate an EA gift card anywhere. I speak with a pleasant young lady in Customer Service who tell me they can’t help me unless I happen to have a UPC they can look up.
Fair enough, not like every Walmart Store carries every product. I call several other Walmarts in the [redacted] area, they don’t carry them either apparently. Oh well, this is more of an issue between EA and Walmart. I can’t fully fault Walmart for not carrying a product they’re advertised to carry, can I? Plan A is shot down, on to plan B.
Plan B comes in my head when I remember that they carry those pre-paid visa cards. I go and find one of those Green Dot Visas and head to checkout. I notice they charge $3 to open an account, at this point I’m prepared to pay the fee. I ask the nice cashier to load up $47 bringing the total to $50. The total comes to $50, I swipe my Walmart Gift Card and receive a “Tender Not Authorized”. Already, I’m fearing the worst, I suspect I know what’s coming. Despite being assured previously “The Walmart Gift card can be used to purchase ANYTHING we sell” when purchasing gift cards in the past, I suspect I’m about to become a dissatisfied customer.
I have the cashier call a CSM come to the register. A CSM named [redacted] wanders over after a few minutes with an I-love-my-job-but-hate-customers demeanor. I explain the situation, she duplicates the message and says “Sorry, you can’t use that Walmart Gift card to purchase that Walmart Prepaid Visa”(Yes, I know Green Dot is the company behind the card, but still…it’s branded as a Walmart product).
I ask her to override it, she says she’s not going to (not can’t, won’t). I then ask who the Store Manager is, and if I can speak with him/her. She says the Store Manager is named [P] and walks away. I stand there at the register for about 20 minutes waiting for [P] to come over so I can speak with him.
The store manager wasn’t around, as it turns out, but the on-duty manager, M., tried to help. Ultimately, O. learned that Walmart gift cards can totally be used for anything in the store, as he had been told…except prepaid debit cards. While some states mandate that stores have to give customers back the cash value of their gift cards, he doesn’t live in one of them. So he formulated an act of defiance.
I explain to M. that I’m going to get my money back from Walmart, one way or another. He steps aside as I walk past him. Now I’m just pissed off. I go and find an item in store that costs roughly $50(a crock pot), and pay for it with my $50 gift card, paying the tax with my debit card. I walk outside, open the box up and then turn around and walk back in. Smile at the greeter who looks at me strangely for a second, and asks if I have a return or exchange. I say I do, he tags my item and I walk over to Customer Service. Where I proceed to return my Opened Crock Pot for $54 and some change.
For the record, I took my cash and went across the parking lot to Gamestop and bought a $50 EA Gift card, because they had them. I’m currently downloading Crysis 3.
It’s nice that O. got what he wanted and all, but opening the crock pot is pretty obnoxious. Still, be warned: you can’t swap a Walmart gift card for a Visa one.