Subway's Gift Card Machine Is Indefinitely Broken

Reader Kristina was hungry and ready to make use of her Subway $20 gift card, however, when she tried to redeem it at the Subway store at Water and Wall St. in Manhattan, the transaction unfolded like this:

Me: *offers gift card as payment*
Employee: “Nope.”
Me: “I’m sorry?”
Employee: “No gift cards.”
Me: “But this is a Subway gift card. And I am in Subway.”
Employee: “No gift cards.”
Me: “It says on the gift card that this is used like cash in a Subway.”
Employee: “Machine’s down. You want your sandwich or not?”

This might seem like a routine glitch, but over a month later, “the machine” is still inoperative. Kristina’s letter, inside…

Over a month ago, I went to the Subway at Water and Wall in Manhattan with the intention of using a gift card a friend had given me as payment. I ordered my sandwich, but when I went to give the employee the gift card, I was informed very rudely that the gift card processing system was down and as such it could not be accepted. Dialogue:

Me: *offers gift card as payment*
Employee: “Nope.”
Me: “I’m sorry?”
Employee: “No gift cards.”
Me: “But this is a Subway gift card. And I am in Subway.”
Employee: “No gift cards.”
Me: “It says on the gift card that this is used like cash in a Subway.”
Employee: “Machine’s down. You want your sandwich or not?”

I could have paid cash, but the employee was so unpleasant in his response (bad tone, sounded very impatient and trying to rush me out despite there being no other customers there, no apologies offered) that I just left and went to another Subway on John Street (they are every other block in my area). The other Subway was having the same problem (you’d think the employee in the first Subway would have mentioned that the issue was not isolated), but the manager there was very apologetic and even gave me a free sandwich for my trouble.

I filed a complaint for the Water Street Subway on the company’s website and received a letter thanking me for my comments, but it was just a generic response. This past Wednesday night I decided to give the Water Street location another chance, and they *still* hadn’t fixed the gift card issue.


We did some research and called the store at 122 Water St. and found out, not surprisingly, that the gift card machine still doesn’t work. The employee we spoke to did not know why it had been broken for so long and when we asked when it would be fixed he simply hung up.

We found this number for Subway Global HQ: (800) 888-4848. If you hit 85 for customer service you are able to leave information regarding specific store complaints which, according to the recording, will be forwarded to a regional office and store owner. If you would like to escalate your complaint via snail mail their address is: Subway Global HQ, Customer Care, 325 Bic Drive, Milford, CT 06460. Good luck, and keep us updated.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Do employees really talk like that, or is she exaggerating? Sounds like The Sub Nazi. You come back, one year.

    • Anonymous says:

      yes, they do, not just in NY but in other places also. I had the same problem and the same rude responses.

  2. MaxSmart32 says:

    @Ash78: Slow day at Jalop, huh Ash? Who needs trillionaire hostile take-overs when we have SUB-NAZI over here!

  3. Superawesomerad says:

    The varying levels of quality between different Subway franchises are pretty striking. One store will be trashed and staffed with stoned Juggalos who can barely operate the register, and the store two blocks away will be sparkling clean and staffed with people who can handle 5 orders at once while bantering with the customers.

    That’s also the nice thing about Subway: Even if the store you’re in treats you like shit, you can just go to the next one, which is invariably less than 5 miles away.

  4. Skankingmike says:

    perhaps the machine costs too much to fix and rather than fixing it for thousands they would just say no gift cards.

    how about you pay cash for you damn sub, or debt card?

    why does everybody need gift cards? they obviously suck.

    this is a non issue.

  5. Skankingmike says:

    and that’s another thing…


    it’s friggin government meat and cheese, tastes like cardboard and no matter where you go. I’ve been to a subways clean and dirty in at least 5 different states. And their breads are always stale.

    go to a local deli support your community.

  6. AnneofAndover says:

    I wonder if this particular Subway is still selling gift cards that they are unwilling to honor.

  7. Superawesomerad says:

    @Skankingmike: If they’re going to offer gift cards, they need to accept them. Don’t be an idiot.

  8. @maxforrest32: Slow day at Jalop, huh Ash

    Mustang refreshes and DOTS pickups can only keep me so occupied…

  9. kthxbai says:

    This is a re-occuring issue found all over NYC-specifically in Manhattan. Its really rediculous. Tje majority of subways don’t take gift, credit, or debit cards. Luckily, the one by shea stadium and the one on chambers does.

    Also, yes they talk like that…. they rush you…. if it werent for 5$ footlong I would never go there do to the bad attitude. Subway nazi all the way

  10. easy2panic says:

    I lost faith in Subway ever since they got rid of their stamp program. That was the only thing keeping me from leaving them.

    Oh well, I’ve only had one Subway sandwich in 5 years only because my friends dragged me there.

  11. @Skankingmike: Ah, the “support your local XXX” comment. Useful.

  12. RChris173 says:

    Here is the telephone number for this store:

    (212) 383-7930

    Tell them about your disgust and tie their line up…Fight back!

  13. Parting says:

    @Skankingmike: Ok, I suppose you’ve seen ONE Subway in your life. Since it’s a franchise, some Subways are great, and some are disgusting.

    The best Subway I’ve went, bread was cooked only when you ordered it. It took an extra 10 min to get your sub, but it was heavenly taste and worse every waiting minute.

    (Either you didn’t get your coffee yet, or you’re a troll. I hope it’s a coffee….)

  14. Parting says:

    @Skankingmike: And what do you do when there is NO local equivalent of Subway in the neighborhood?

  15. AstroPig7 says:

    @Skankingmike: How about Subway gives the customer what was paid for to begin with? Do you think gift cards just fall out of the sky?

  16. mike says:

    Target and Walmart gift cards are one thing. McDonalds and Subway gift cards??? WHY?!

  17. Same thing happened to me because my sister-in-law gave me the card for Christmas. Apparently every Subway on the Upper East Side of Manhattan has a system unable to take gift cards, or they said my card was messed up. I sent it to my mom in LA because I too tried the customer service route with no results, a voila! She got three free sandwiches. I think it’s Manhattan thing…

  18. MaxSmart32 says:

    @Ash78: I seem to be noticing something amiss with Jalop lately…I wish I knew what it was.

  19. lordkaio says:

    I’ve had a similar issue at the Leetsdale, PA Subway. I went to pay using a gift card that I had found in the bottom of my junk drawer. I called the 1-800 # to see if it had anything left on it and used the # and pin from the card. The automated line told me that I had $5 available on the card, perfect for $4.29 footlong day. I handed the card to the cashier and he swiped it (so I made it further than the submitter), but then he hands me back the card (my meal was over $5 with drink). I said that he can keep it since it’s empty and he told me that he couldn’t take it. I asked why and he said because it couldn’t scan, and someone must’ve sold me a bad card. I asked why he couldn’t just use the numbers/pin on the card to manually enter it (since the automated phone girl can understand my numbers) and he said that it’s impossible to enter gift cards manually, then he just stood there awkwardly until I gave him my cash to pay for it. I tried reaching someone there, but I would get the “Can you hold a second?” line, followed by someone forgetting to get back to me. Needless to say, I haven’t been back.

    I’ll admit, I didn’t pursue it much beyond that since it’s only $5, but it just smacks of laziness/ineptness on their part, or at worst (if he was telling the truth), a terrible, terrible idea.

  20. unravel says:

    @Victo: You write letters to the editor of your local paper and favorite angsty e-zine, outcrying the social injustice and wrongness of the world. Perhaps you break into Subway late at night, stealing sandwich wrappers that you will later wrap yourself, setting yourself ablaze to bring attention to your cause. If you are really dedicated, you will run for office on the Hungry People for Local Subway Equivalent platform. Because it’s really that important!

  21. mdale says:

    That doesn’t really surprise me…I’ve worked on Subway’s computers before, and the system they have to use isn’t operator friendly to setup. There aren’t any incentives from main HQ for them to get it running…the software to run it doesn’t come with their POS and it takes at least a week to get it

  22. raisitup says:

    @Skankingmike: if they’re going to offer gift cards maybe, just maybe, they should have a way for the cardholder to redeem the cardy goodness? wake up on the wrong side of the world this morning?

    i called to complain about a subway in orlando (obt/sand lake) that had continually escalating poor service, culminating in one lunchtime trip when they had – are you ready? – no BREAD. subway, lunchtime, packed house, no bread. they didn’t so much as put a sign on the door, just let the people walk in to tell them the bad news and that they could have a wrap or a salad.

    anywho, i got a couple of calls from subway corporate as well as a call from the owner of that and at least one other subway (orange and sand lake, much better!) and got the general feeling that they all cared about what i had to say. nobody offered any freebies but it was a positive cs experience.

  23. JollyJumjuck says:

    In Canada, Subway used to have stamps (1 for 6″, 2 for 12″) that they gave away with every sub (you had to ask the cashier for them, however). Save 8, and you get a free sub. Then it became 10, then 12. They took away the promo years ago, and promised to replace it with something else.

    The only thing Subway customers received in lieu of a new promotion were higher prices.

  24. SaveMeJeebus says:

    Just go to a hole in the wall deli; they are much better.


  25. dover says:

    I had a similar problem in Medford, MA. Seemed like it’d been down a while based on their reactions. I didn’t make a fuss because I was hungry, but I will next time if it still isn’t working.

  26. Skankingmike says:

    @Superawesomerad: Sure they do.. and just call the cops on them to make them!

    @raisitup: see above.

    @Victo: i don’t know make yourself a sandwich at home? or eat McDonald’s really though are there area’s where a Subway would be and not a deli or sandwich shop?

    Also, no if you read my comment rather than immediately claiming I’m a troll or something about coffee, I’ve been to multiple and they taste horrible even the “best ones” still have to buy their meat from corporate (other wise their not subway now are they?).

    I have hundreds of mom and pop places by me, maybe I’m spoiled but eating REAL sandwich meat vs. subway is quite a difference in flavor. If you don’t have a local Italian deli or Jewish then i just don’t’ know what to tell you.

    And if bread takes 10 mins to cook.. how good can that be? on average the cook time of rolls is around 15 – 20 minutes so baked fresh is highly unlikely. but people love different things. All I’m saying is Subway has horrible meat.

    personally everything is crap compared to a good slice of Prosciutto or Pancetta with some Provolone.


    OMG YES! how about we all stop buying these stupid cards and start, i don’t’ know giving money again.

    Why must people give gift cards what if i don’t want to use your 20 dollar card on subway, what if i want 20 bucks for gas or a new DVD or CD? I guess i could sell it on Ebay. Maybe somebody will give me 23 dollars for it perhaps Vivto will.

  27. celticgina says:

    C’mon people….SOMEONE spent the money at SUBWAY to BUY a gift card. Obviously, she should be able to use it. Clearly this particular Store had a machine that was going to cost them to fix. So, they take the chance that people will have the 5 bucks or so to PAY for the sandwich.

    Whether or not you like Subway is NOT The point. I think she should escalate this because Subway HAS the money already!!

  28. hoebgyn says:

    @Skankingmike: dude. i’ve got no interest in debating subway quality – personally, i can’t stand subway and will walk out of my way for any other NYC deli sandwich. I also think gift cards are stupid, but the kids seem to love ’em and it seems they are here to stay. that being the state of affairs, you must admit that if a company is going to sell a gift card, the only value of which is its alleged ability to be redeemed for product at a future date, said company damn well better be able to redeem these cards in a reasonably consistent way. Otherwise, the sale of the gift card starts to seem a little fraudulent. And that, no matter what your feelings are about bread and ‘why don’t people just pay cash’, is shitty corporate/franchise behavior.

  29. Tmoney02 says:


    I think consumerist needs a worst comment of the day (and perhaps a best comment) and Skankingmike should get the first worst comment.

    I also nominate him for the ban hammer.

  30. milk says:

    The online comment submittal hasn’t been useful to me at all. When my debit card was charged twice, I sent a message through because it was late at night. I got the same generic response, but after that nothing for a few days. It was only $6, and I was curious to see how long this would take. I emailed again. Few more days go by, nothing. Then I sent 10 consecutive emails. Nothing. Finally I sent a written letter to the store and copied corporate (they’re franchises, you know), and that got a response.

    Yes, obviously, I should have just driven up there. I’m not complaining at all as I chose to go the long way out of pure boredom. Just saying, it will take more than an email submitted through the site.

  31. mikeatnight says:

    A girl I work with has been trying to use her gift card since Christmas at 3 different locations and has not been able to. Their customer service is a joke.

  32. Skankingmike says:

    @hoebgyn: @

    I think the article about Sharper Images Gift cards should be a good indication why they really don’t have to accept them. And if you don’t like it your only recourse is court.

    href=”#c6100845″>Tmoney02: because i think subway is horrible? and people shouldn’t use gift cards? ok… whatever, i thought consumerist was all about not using gift cards but maybe all those posts about gift cards was trying to tell me to buy them…. curious….

  33. Superawesomerad says:

    @Skankingmike: Bitching about the quality of the food, the relative merits of gift cards, the proximity of other restaurants, the time it takes to bake the bread, etc., is an exercise in irrelevance. The complaint was that Subway wouldn’t accept one of their own gift cards and were rude about it to boot.

    You’re either a troll or an idiot. Which is it?

    P.S. Believe it or not, not everyone lives in a big city with a wealth of other options. In my old town in Maine, Subway was literally the only option (other than the deli counter at the gas station) if you wanted to eat out.

  34. wallapuctus says:

    Do you really expect some teenager earning minimum wage at a fast food place to give a shit about the gift card machine? I’d have hung up on that call too.

  35. lalaland13 says:

    I like Panera Bread and Quizno’s better, but sometimes, Subway is all there is if you want a good sandwich. Especially in the area I work in. I have started being careful with which Subways I go to. One near my house made me sick once or twice, so I stopped. The one near work isn’t too bad, but I still feel like I’m flipping a coin whenever I go there. The chicken isn’t bad, but I try to avoid the roast beef.

    Gas station Subways? Avoid. And yeah, fix the gift card machine. Or give them the value of the gift card back, or something.

  36. Superawesomerad says:

    @wallapuctus: He’s getting paid to give a shit. If he thinks he’s too good for Subway, he can drag his ass elsewhere.

  37. illflux says:

    …at least they were polite about it.

    Seriously, WTF has happened to customer service?!?!?!

  38. macinjosh says:
  39. shockwaver says:

    To the people that have a good deli near them, congratulations! When I lived in Atlanta there was this hole in the wall place that was heaven on bread. Of course, when I moved and got a job, there was two things within walking distance, subway, and A&W. And when you have a half hour for lunch, even with a car, getting somewhere else is cutting it close.

  40. jenl1625 says:

    @Skankingmike: For one thing, according to the letter, this was actually a *gift*.

    Second, Subway did away with those stamps they used to have a *long* time ago. They finally replaced them – with a gift/loyalty card.

    If this store can’t accept your gift card as payment, then it also isn’t giving you credit towards getting a free sub, drink, chips, whatever every now and then. If Subway weren’t offering the loyalty rewards, no big deal. But if I can get those credits at the store 3 blocks away, why should I hand over money to this store and get slightly less value for my money?

    Why would the company allow one store/franchise to stop participating in what’s supposed to be a national program?

    But also, given that they use the same swipe-slot for both the reward cards and debit/credit cards, how can it accept a visa/mastercard but not a gift card? Either they’re going cash-only, or it’s a software problem, or they’re lying because they don’t want to honor the rewards program. . . .

  41. My WallyWorld gift cards always work. Never hear complaints about WallyWorld gift cards not working.

    I wonder if this (non-working Subway giftcards) is one of those corporate conspiracies to keep consumer’s money.

  42. Expanding Buttocks says:

    I had a manager at the Denton, TX Subway tell me to “get the f*** out” when I complained about something. Even after contacting HQ, no response to me or to the BBB. They really don’t care…

  43. ratnerstar says:



    Good question. Let’s see ….

    I’ve been to a subways clean and dirty in at least 5 different states.

    I guess the answer is: you.

  44. M3wThr33 says:

    The one near my work is broken all the time, too. Pretty shady.

  45. ringo00 says:

    If anyone was interested, the reason Subway meats seem to be sub-par compared to other cold-cuts is that all of the processed cold-cuts that would otherwise be made of beef or pork (bologna, salami, pepperoni, processed ham, etc.) are made of turkey. I don’t know if this is because of lower costs or lower fat content. I would guess lower cost.

  46. ringo00 says:

    If anyone is interested, the reason the meats at Subway seem to taste slightly off is that all of the processed cold cuts (Bologna, Salami, Pepperoni, Ham, etc.) are made of turkey. I don’t know if this is due to lower costs or lower fat content, but I would guess costs.

  47. ringo00 says:

    sorry for the double, it looked like it didn’t take.

  48. blue_duck says:

    @Skankingmike: I happen to find Subway very tasty…

  49. e.varden says:


    Hey you fistula of a troll: go away. The issue is twenty dollars, not your opinion of gift cards.

  50. redwall_hp says:

    @JollyJumjuck Ooh, the Sub Club promo. They had that down here in the U.S. too. It’s been awhile.

  51. toddvm says:

    That’s subway. I tried to use a coupon that was listed on this site for free chips and they wouldn’t honor it. The Subway I went to said it was up to the individual store to decide what coupons they would honor. There was a sign posted that also said “We don’t honor the free cookie coupon printed at the end of your receipt. Sorry.” Another subway I went to had limits as to which footlong subs for $5 they would honor. Corporate and the individuals stores are clearly not on the same page.

  52. @Skankingmike: What is that, 6, 7 catches? You got a veritable trolling feast on your hands.

  53. mariospants says:

    It seems that the closer you are to NYC, the more likely you are to find a store run by some scumbag jackass with no concern whatsoever for his clients.

    I love those camera stores downtown (you know, the ones that now advertise products on the web at ridiculously low prices and then have no intention of actually selling you said product at said price) where they treat you like a long-lost brother when you’re buying something but like a cash-thieving leper when you try to return it.

  54. JMH says:

    Subway stopped the stamp program because of theft. (That is, employees would give bundles of them to their friends.)

  55. picardia says:

    The stamp program is still alive and well on the Subway at W. 41st St. in Manhattan.

  56. moneyries says:

    Had this same problem at the Subway on Bedford avenue about 6 months ago.

  57. Kishi says:

    @Skankingmike: I love the comments where people assume that every town has the same wide variety of restaurants that they do. I just spent three years living in a crappy college town that had nearly nothing but national chain restaurants, and the only place to get a sandwich was Subway. This town also had four Subways, which seemed rather excessive for a town of around 50k people.

    We spent a lot of time at the few good local restaurants- I’m gonna miss that Greek place.

  58. EmeryAquila says:

    I had this same problem at this same Subway. I used to go to this subway three times a week until my mom gave me a gift card to use and after they made my sandwich they mentioned the problem with the gift card machine. (I work at an office building at Water & Wall.)

    The “sandwich n*zi” that Kristi encountered was the franchisee’s owner, who refused, REFUSED to take my gift card. I guess he was nice in that he offered to let me pay on the next Thursday when I got my paycheck (which I used as my excuse as to why I couldn’t pay in cash), but I said I wanted the sandwich for free on my gift card (the whole point of a gift card) and walked out.

    I wrote into Subway’s site — they responded back nicely — but I told them don’t bother with a gift card, because I couldn’t even use it.

  59. coren says:

    @toddvm: Hahaha, they don’t honor their own coupons. Classic. Although the 5$ promotion never was for every sub, at least not in any Subway I went to.

    @JMH: Counterfeits, actually. Sell a brick on ebay, make loads of cash.

    @Skankingmike: She wouldn’t have been there if she hadn’t had a gift card to use up in the first place. Telling her off for not having cash to make a purchase she only made due to having a gift card to spend is assinine.

    Like you.

    Anyway, this article illustrates Good CS v Bad – look what the other store did when confronted with a problem with the gift cards. I know which I’d be going to next time (I don’t get why she didn’t go there again to begin with)

  60. MT says:

    My boyfriend and I tried to use a $10 gift card we had at one of their locations. When the cashier went to swipe it, the card wouldn’t run. I checked the balance by calling the number, just to verify that we hadn’t used it and forgotten about it. The automatic woman’s voice said “Ten dollars” and the cashier said he had no way to manually run the card. Miffed, we paid and left.

    The next week we went to the next closest one, card wouldn’t run and.. hey! they manually entered it without a hitch!

    Lazy employees blow. I don’t care that they “only make minimum wage”. They accepted that job. They need to do it right or get fired.

  61. – I like Subway.

    – But Subway corporate is poor at following up with complaints about franchisees. I complained a couple of times about a Subway that was convenient to me, but always dirty. The location never changed and Subway corporate kind of gave a corporate “shrug” about it. Also, where most chains will always send you a coupon or something to say “sorry” I notice Subway sends nadda.

  62. stephencs says:

    @lordkaio: I work at a subway, and we are actually not allowed to manually enter subway cards. They are afraid that we will steal people’s points by writing down the numbers on their card… It actually says in big letters when you are supposed to swipe the card “NO MANUAL ENTRY ALLOWED”

  63. stager says:

    @Skankingmike: Agreed! Subway is the stank.

    Where I work there are two Subways right around the corner from each other, and in between a Deli/Convenience store with some amazing subs and loads of choice in meat. Unfortunately though that Deli had to close. Hmm wonder why? Subway offers little variety in meat types and uses different variants of subs with the same meat. In my opinion that’s just cheap and lazy business. Hence why I strongly agree with supporting your local community. Kinda reminds of that south park episode about Walmart.

  64. RvLeshrac says:

    From the “mysterious random sandwiches are not eligible for the $5 footlong, and we won’t tell you exactly which ones until you reach the register and don’t have time on your lunch/break/whatever to tell us to piss off and go somewhere else to eat”, to this, to the mysterious non-cheese-tesselation, to the “meticulously counting every ingredient on your sandwich down to individual shreds of lettuce,” I’ve sworn never to eat at any Subway for the rest of my life, and I’ve asked everyone I know to join me in the boycott.