Gordon took advantage of a Groupon deal for 38% off Staples gift cards. That’s not an unusual offering: Groupon frequently has gift cards to national retailers at nice prices. The unusual thing is that his local store turned him away, claiming that the voucher was “fake.”
Maybe that isn't all that unusual, either, come to think of it. When Gordon complained, though, what happened next is kind of unusual, and he shared his story with us.
He sent this message to the district manager of Staples:
As you may be aware, yesterday Groupon was selling Staples “eGift Cards” at a discount off the face value. What a great deal, right?
When I went to your [redacted] store at about 8:30pm to redeem my gift card, the manager, [E], did not know what it was.
She thought it was a coupon and accused me of printing out fake coupons from the internet. I informed her that it was a gift card that I purchased with actual money, and she asked me where I got it from and how I paid for it.
Eventually, she told the cashier to accept the gift card in order to “get him out of here,” but she told me not to return to her store with any more coupons because “we’re not going to do this anymore.”
I can’t begin to tell you how outrageous it is for your manager to accuse me of “printing fake coupons” for trying to redeem a gift card — especially when it scans just fine.
These gift cards are fungible instruments representing a monetary value, and are governed by California Civil Code Sections 1749.45-1749.6 protecting gift card holders.
It doesn’t matter if I got it from grandma or found it on the street, a gift card is a gift card is a gift card — and your manager has no business inquiring “where I got it from.”
In fact, the terms and conditions of this eGift Card state that I may redeem up to 5 in one transaction, acknowledging that there is nothing suspicious about owning multiple gift cards, and that they are frequently sold, bartered, and, shockingly, gifted.
I hope that all your managers are informed that this eGift Card is, in fact, a “real thing.”
I hope that [E] will realize that coupons, promotions, and gift cards accepted by the POS system are not “fake.”
And I hope that we can stop playing 21 questions.
I understand that [E] was recently promoted to the general manager position, and if she wants to get rid of customers who use coupons and are knowledgeable about the rules, her sales will reflect [that].
The district manager wrote back. Here is the letter, in part: we’ve redacted names and locations but left at least one amusing error intact.
First I would like to apology for the treatment you received while trying to redeem your gift card. I understand your frustration and embarrassment this may have caused you and you are absolutely correct on your statements. This is not something I am proud of to hear coming from any Staples store we pride ourselves on keeping service a priority. I will make sure that the General Manager [R] coach and train [E] on our policies and procedures so this will not happen in the future.
We value you as a Staples customer and would like to retain your business, please allow me to issue you a $50 prepaid Visa gift card that you may pick up at the [redacted] store or we could send the card by mail. Please let me know whatever is convenient for you.
Gordon had the card mailed, since he probably wasn’t in a hurry to visit that Staples store again. Happy un-birthday, Gordon!