How Buying Gift Cards To Shop Online Can Backfire

S. tells Consumerist that she had a bad experience with Lane Bryant, and now she doesn’t know where to turn. She doesn’t use credit cards, but couldn’t pass up a great online-only sale on jeans. She went to a brick-and-mortar store and purchased a gift card, then used the gift card to make the purchase online. Simple, right? Nope. Lane Bryant canceled her order, and now S. is stuck with a $50 Lane Bryant gift card she had budgeted for two pairs of jeans.

Hello, I’ve had a bad experience with Lane Bryant and I wanted to share it.

I don’t have a credit card, so I pay for everything with cash. However, when I saw the 50% off Right Fit jeans promotion (the only jeans that have ever fit me right!) on their website (only available online), I knew I had to get them. I did some research and found out that I could pay it with a gift card. I went into the store, purchased a 50$ gift card, and proceeded with the order online. I had issues with the gift card, but managed to get the order placed. A few days later, I got a message saying that the items I wanted are not in stock (even though they’re still available on the website if you want to place an order… Wtf?! If they’re not available, fine, but don’t let people keep ordering them!)

Instead of giving an option to wait for them or anything like that, I was just told that the gift card would be returned. The problem is, 50 dollars is a lot to me, and I was alright with it since I think that two fantastic jeans for that price would be worth it. I went back to the website and saw that now the promotion is buy one, get one 50% off, so now I will be expected to pay about 75 dollars for two pairs of jeans instead of 50, because of the website not saying that the jeans it let me order aren’t available.

Normally, I’d just say, “Whatever” and wait until the promotion comes around again (once a year or so, if I remember; I used to work at Lane Bryant, so I know that these sales are fairly rare). However, I have this dumb gift card. Lane Bryant has a lot of fairly overpriced items, and none of them are worth their asking price. If I can’t get the jeans I wanted, I don’t want to spend that hard-earned money on something random and unnecessary. I tried writing in to customer support and nobody has written back. I’d be okay with being able to get the two pair of jeans I ordered, even if it takes a while to get them (like on backorder), or getting two other pairs of jeans for the price I was promised, which is what inspired me to get a gift certificate. I’d be okay with getting the money back from the gift card. But I don’t want to buy 1 pair of jeans and then the rest of the money go to waste in gift card limbo, or have to go get ANOTHER gift card to have enough to buy two pairs of jeans. If it were my own fault that this happened, I wouldn’t complain, but this situation is not my fault.

Is there anything I can do? What would you do?

I would complain about the canceled order and ask that it be reinstated, even if it results in a back order. Start with the lowliest customer service rep and escalate as high up in the organization of Lane Bryant’s owner, Charming Shoppes, as I could.

If that failed, try selling the gift card to a friend who’s a regular Lane Bryant customer (even if it’s at a slight loss) or scour the clearance racks at the local Lane Bryant for fabulous things marked down to reasonable prices.