Best Buy, Why Have You Sent Me A Random $50 Gift Card?

Brian has an enviable but confusing problem. He has received a $50 Best Buy gift card from a mysterious benefactor. Has he done something pleasing to the overpriced electronics gods? Has he received a gift from someone he knows who wishes to remain anonymous? He doesn’t know. But, as a Consumerist reader, he’s suspicious.

I wanted to write in about a bizarre occurrence with Best Buy. Today in the mail we opened an envelope from “Returns Center” with a $50 Best Buy Gift Card inside. It had a Best Buy packing slip, but no information as to who it was it from…or better yet, WHY we were getting it. We are silver members in Reward Zone, but there was no letter, no explanation. Just a $50 Gift Card in a discreet manila envelope with no Best Buy logo on the packaging. I was thinking maybe it was a scam, or a empty gift card encouraging me to buy one, or maybe a gift from someone who forgot to put their name on it. I called in to Best Buy Reward Zone to get to the bottom of the mystery. After all, if someone sent a gift, I would like to know who to thank. The first person I got on the phone had no clue.

I got transferred to another individual who also had no knowledge and could not verify the card’s value. I was then transferred again to Customer Relations who asked for the gift card number. They indeed verified it had $50 on it, but again, could not verify who it was from or why I was getting it! I was then put on hold. She said she needed to check a “white board” that explained these things (huh?) and when she came back, she was now 99.9% sure it was from Reward Zone. Still baffled, I asked if she knew why, and she said “Well, it’s probably because we like you.” I asked if this was normal or if there was a promotion and she said “As far as I can tell, no.” Keep in mind, this is NOT a reward zone gift certificate that I earned. I’ve gotten those before and this is an actual gift card with a Christmas theme (see picture). Left with no answers other than that the card is real, I’m off to best buy to spend some free money. I guess….thanks….mystery ghost corporate best buy god.

As long as Brian checks the fine print on the card’s packaging and makes sure that he hasn’t promised his firstborn into a live of indentured Geek Squad servitude, the card should be OK to spend. Our guess is squarely on “anonymous gift.”


Edit Your Comment

  1. HowdyHowdyHowdy says:

    “…and makes sure that he hasn’t promised his firstborn into a live of indentured Geek Squad servitude…”

    Milk sprayed out of my nose. (^_^)/

  2. MedicallyNeedy says:

    Improv Everywhere did a gag where they threw a guy a random birthday party in a bar. He got a bunch of best buy gift cards. He found out, about a year later, when ‘This American Life” did a piece on Improve Everywhere. It aired a couple weeks ago.
    Episode 286: “Mind Games”

  3. SnoopyFish says:

    Right on. Free moneys is always a good thing!

  4. dg says:

    Spend it. If some company sends you something you didn’t order – you get to keep it (mail order rule). So long as it’s really a gift card and not one of those “OH OH SHINEY! LOOK HERE!” where it looks like you’re getting $500, but the fine print actually says that you agree to join the LiarsControlFreaksAnonymous group and they’ll charge you $20/month for the rest of your life, you should be good.

    Keep a record of who you spoke w/at the genius center and if it comes back to bite you – just refuse to pay or participate in whatever they’re trying to force you to do.

    Someone could have screwed up in shipping or printing an address, or it could have been a gift (in which case you’ll eventually figure it out), or…. Just keep in mind that this time of the year, every company with a distribution center has temp employees that screw things up and STUFF HAPPENS…

    Happy Holidays from you local overworked, underpaid, probably drunk and stoned the night before temp employee :-)

  5. RandomHookup says:

    I confess, I sent it to you. If you’d like to reciprocate, I can send you my address and favorite fruitcake variety.


    Somewhere on that card is microscopic print saying that by spending this gift card, you agree to membership in some crappy “discount club” and your Best Buy credit card will be charged $29.95 a month. Like those stupid “checks” they send out that enroll you in a money-sucking club if you deposit the check.

    I am what Consumerist made me.

    • Rena says:

      Being Best Buy, I was thinking “give away a $50 item that will need $100 in accessories/service/etc.”

      This quote made me wonder though:
      “Still baffled, I asked if she knew why, and she said “Well, it’s probably because we like you.””
      Maybe she meant “because I like you ;)”

  7. Colonel Jack O'neill says:

    Why is he complaining, it’s free $50.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      I don’t think the OP was complaining, just concerned it wasn’t on the up and up. I would have asked about it too, especially since the envelope said it came from Returns and not Rewards.

  8. RevRagnarok says:

    I am guessing Brian may have bought something with a rebate 6-8 weeks ago. They like sending the nothing-but-evil Visa gift cards lately, so maybe they’ve gone one step closer into consumer hell and are now sending Best Buy gift cards???

  9. Mr.Gawn says:

    Amazon sent me a 50 dollar gift card… all i had to do was use the code..

    it jus had someone elses name, but i could EASILY USE IT..

    well my guilty conscious told me not to, but Amazon insisted i bought it and i should use it

    Date of Order:October 16, 2009
    Amount : $50.00
    Message:Thank you for providing the keynote address at the 2009 SNMA Region 1 Conference. We are very grateful for your support and guidance, and look forward to working with you in the future.
    Type of Gift Card:Print gift card

    it actually took awhile before they ACTUALLY refunded whoever bought it.. they insisted i bought it and i should use it

  10. AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:

    You mean Best Buy’s gotten so bad they now have to *pay* people to shop there? :)

    This is probably 1) a rebate/reward of some kind that Brian forgot about; or 2) a Best Buy error in your favor.

  11. aetius says:

    If it truly was from the Returns center, it’s most likely from one of Best Buy’s Product Replacement Plans(PRPs in the parlance). While most people bring their stuff back to the store, the way they want it to work is: the customer calls in with a broken product, Best Buy sends them a box for the product, then when they receive it, they send a Gift Card for the approximate amount so the customer can get their replacement.

  12. ARPRINCE says:

    You don’t want it? I’ll take it!

  13. Shoelace says:

    Sounds like free money. I don’t think there was anything to link the card to Brian, and therefore sign him up unknowingly for something if he used it, at least until he called BB and gave them the card number.

    If he wants to be extra cautious he should buy something that costs around $50 and is unlikely to need to be returned or repaired, and pay cash. And – of course – pay attention at checkout.

    • Rena says:

      Someone mailed it to him, which means they have his address. The same people probably have the card number and work at Best Buy, where they’d be able to query a database for said number when it’s used.

  14. Segador says:

    Hell, I’m a reward zone member. Checking mail now…

    • RandomHookup says:

      I forgot about it, but Best Buy sent me $10 on my Reward Zone account last year. I don’t think I had spent $10 total using the card in the 2 years prior, so I certainly hadn’t earned it. It spent really well though…

  15. DontCrossMe says:

    Maybe BB is paying you back for something they ripped you off horrible on, and they felt bad so they gave some back. But then again you will have to go to BB to spend it and waste more of your hard earned money on the overpriced stuff. I know use it to pay for the “GEEK SQUAD OPTIMIZATION” we all know its worth it but hey it wil pay for 60% of it.

    • Dondegroovily says:

      Best Buy feels bad about ripping someone off?


  16. riverstyxxx says:

    I call shenanigans. No proof, no pictures, just sappy free advertising towards a company that everyone hates, in perfect timing with a week before Christmas. It even rings of suspicion with praise like “I’m off to best buy to spend some free money”.

  17. Bix says:

    I had a similar experience this week. I got a phone call from GameStop telling me to go to because I had an unused store credit. I filled out the form with my last name and phone #, it told me I had $5 unused, and then I filled out the next form so they could send me printable gift card link via email, which they did 2 days later. I know I never left a pre-ordered game unbought (which a $5 credit sounds like) or left credit after a trade-in.

  18. RandomHookup says:

    I heard that. The “victim” felt it was a bit cruel. I would hope I had caught on somewhere in the middle of the prank. I would have kept the gift cards. They even called him to do it again next year.

  19. Blinkman987 says:

    This is pretty easy to explain. Someone who previously had this address or had their address recorded incorrectly likely did a return or redeemed a service plan for a broken item. Best Buy sends the gift card to you. This happened to me (someone else received my gift card) a few months ago.

    Now, you can either inform Best Buy of the potential mistake or go spend someone else’s gift card– and in 2 months we’ll get to read “Consumer Did Not Receive Best Buy Gift Card and Best Buy Says the Card is Already Redeemed!”

    Best of luck in your moral and ethical dilemma.

    • LESSTHANKIND says:

      The OP has done everything in his power to inform Best Buy that this is probably a mistake. They refuse to accept the possibility.

  20. Fred E. says:

    Probably a distant cousin or somebody he knew from high school got a part-time seasonal job at Best Buy and is sending these to everyone he ever met.

  21. kfuller24 says:

    I work in Consumer Relations at Best Buy. Someone probably ordered the gift card on .com and sent it as a gift. When that happens, it doesn’t come with a name as far as who it’s from. We do have a way of checking, but most agents on the floor are not aware.

  22. cheech794 says:

    As a BEST BUY EMPLOYEE i think i have an idea of what happened. From time to time we process a return and the customer might forget there gift-card at the store, so we mail it back to the address that we have for them.

    Now what might have happened is that when getting everything ready to send out Brian’s name might have been seen somewhere instead of the other costumer and so it was sent to him since his address was in the system.

    I say this because i almost committed the same mistake a few months back.

  23. Winteridge2 says:


  24. Dummy1212 says:

    This EXACT same thing happened to me. I received two $30 gift certificates from best buy a few months ago in the exact same plain manila envelope, with the best buy return center as the return address. I found out a month later it was a gift from someone, as they asked me if I ever received the gift cards.

    Odds are this is a gift from someone. Too bad best buy can’t let him know who to thank.

  25. BytheSea says:

    Prolly returned something or, more likely, did a rebate months ago and forgot about it.

  26. EdWedig says:

    My brother sent me a Best Buy card for Christmas, and it arrived the same say: standard Fed-Ex envelope, with a Best Buy invoice inside, but no indication on who sent it. In fact, my wife opened the Fed-Ex envelope because she thought it was something for her business (mortgage processing). She pulled out the invoice, but failed to see the gift card inside, and was really confused.

    Unfortunately, had I realized that this was my gift, I would have waited to open it. :(

  27. Android8675 says:

    If he made a purchase online recently it may of come with a $50 gift card? I thought there were a couple black-friday deals that went down like that this year.

    Just a thought.

  28. tjr says:

    Thanks for sharing this! I just received one of these mystery Best Buy gift cards today, and I was searching the web for a way to figure out how to determine who sent it.

  29. magnetogurl says:

    I got a mystery $50 Best Buy card in the mail just the other day! There was an invoice from Best Buy but no indication of who sent it or why. And it has nothing to do with Reward Zone because I don’t even know what that is. Must be a Best Buy promotion to get people into the store.

  30. magnetogurl says:

    After reading some of the the previous comments, I have this to add: The envelope holding the card (UPS) and the invoice were addressed specifically to me, by name, at my address. I don’t shop at Best Buy often–The last time I set foot in a Best Buy was over 1 1/2 years ago, and I do not recall whether I purchased anything. I have never returned anything to Best Buy or participated in any rebate program.