Someone At Duane Reade Needs To Learn How To Activate AmEx Gift Cards

Stephanie did a wonderful thing, and bought a $100 American Express gift card as a gift for her assistant this past Christmas. Unfortunately, she tells Consumerist that the Duane Reade store where she purchased the card did a terrible thing, and failed to actually activate it for her. Twice. Now her assistant was embarrassed when she tried to use the card at a spa and it was rejected, and Stephanie has had to pay $11.90 in card-loading fees with no working gift card to show for it.

She writes:

Back in December of last year, I purchased a $100 gift card at Duane Reade and gave it to my assistant as a Christmas gift. After a few months I felt comfortable throwing out the receipt because I hadn’t heard anything from her saying that it hadn’t worked. In April of this year, however, I received an email from her saying that she went to a spa with her friends, but when she went to pay with the gift card, she was told that it was not funded. I was shocked and horrified to hear this, and spent a fair amount of time on the phone with Duane Reade and AMEX. Since I did not have the original receipt, I had to obtain a replicate receipt from Duane Reade and fax it to AMEX to get a replacement card.

The replacement card arrived in the mail the other day, but it had my name on it. Concerned that my assistant might not be able to use the replacement card with my name on it, I went to Duane Reade to purchase a $100 gift card using my replacement $100 gift card, and paying the $5.95 transaction fee in the process.

Given my recent problems with purchasing an AMEX gift card in the past, I asked the woman at the register to confirm that the card was activated. She said it was and pointed to the part of the receipt that said, “successful activation” and the gift card number. At home, I figured I would be super careful before sending it out and called AMEX to confirm that the card was indeed funded. IT WAS NOT! I was told that there was a zero balance and that there must have been some kind of error between the time when Duane Reade activated the card and when AMEX was supposed to receive the activation. The supervisor I spoke to at AMEX told me that “this happens a lot.” Well that doesn’t inspire confidence!

She told me that I could go through the whole rigmarole again of sending in my receipt to get a replacement card, but noted that neither the $5.95 that I paid for the first card, nor the $5.95 transaction fee that I paid for this second card would be refunded to me.

At least no one ended up in jail.

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