At Target, A “Free” Gift Card For Reserving A PS4 Actually Costs $25, Can’t Be Used For PS4

Everybody wants a piece of the valuable pie that is the new PS4, so how do retailers distinguish themselves from each other and make sure you buy the console from them instead of another store? For one, Target offered what at first seemed like a pretty good deal: Reserve a PS4 from Target and pay $25 to do so, and receive a $25 gift card when you pick up the system. Sounds great, right? Maybe not so much, as we’re hearing from some very dissatisfied readers.

Mike writes in that he reserved the PS4 at Target after reading an offer that said he’d get a “FREE $25 gift card” with the purchase of a reservation card. Basically, he’d have to pay $25 at the time he reserved the system, but figured he’d get that money back later.

And he did, sort of. He writes that when he went to pick his system up, he was surprised to find that the $25 he paid to reserve it didn’t go toward the balance of the system. And that “free” gift card didn’t help either, as he was told he couldn’t use it to pay for his PS4.

So really, he ended up paying $424.99 for his PS4 plus tax — making that gift card very un-free — and wrote to Target customer service to see what the heck was going on.

At first the customer service rep simply noted:

“The Reservation Card has a retail of $25 and will include $25 Target GiftCard offer with purchase. The $25 GiftCard cannot be used towards the purchase price.”

Exactly his point, he added, replying, “I know, that is what’s upsetting. The reservation card says ‘Free $25 gift card’ when that is not true… I did not receive a free $25 gift card because I paid for it.”

Target replied again and thanked him and apologized for being so darn confusing, but that’s just how it is.

Thanks for taking the time to share your additional thoughts about your experience.The Reservation Card has a retail of $25 and will include $25 Target GiftCard offer with purchase. It is for a future purchase.

I’m glad you wrote to us about this, because the $25 GiftCard cannot be used towards the purchase price it led to confusion and that was not our intention.

This just doesn’t make sense to us, either — not only are customers not getting anything for free, but their money is just being turned into a $25 worth of Target merchandise that isn’t the item they wanted from Target in the first place.

Another Consumerist reader had a similar experience, noting that really, that $25 just means that yes, you will eventually own a PS4.

“Your payment, however, doesn’t actually reduce the cost of the system,” reader John notes. “It’s essentially trading $25 in cash for a $25 store gift card and a guarantee that you will get the system when it comes out.”

UPDATE: A Target spokeswoman provided us with the below statement, noting that while they’re sorry about any confusion, the Reservation Card was never meant to go toward the price of the PS4. So basically yes, people paid $25 to reserve a console and will have to spend the $25 gift card they got at Target. Or else that money is really gone.

Guests who reserved their PlayStation 4 consoles from Target in advance of the street date had the option to do so in-store by purchasing a reservation card for $25. Upon presenting their reservation card to purchase their console, guests received a $25 Target gift card. Because the purchase must be completed for the gift card to be issued, guests are unable to use the gift card towards the purchase of their PlayStation 4. This is consistent with promotions at Target that include a gift card with purchase. We apologize for any confusion guests may have experienced.

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  1. MathManv2point0 says:

    Perhaps I am reading it wrong but it seems clear to me. Reserving the PS4 cost $25 retail – meaning you pay $25 as a reservation fee.

    However, as a bonus for reserving the PS4 you get a $25 gift card but you do not pay for that gift card. The gift card is free.

    These are two separate transactions:
    1) Reservation for $25 ($25 cost to customer)
    2) Issuance of Grit Card with value of $25 (no cost to customer)

    This gift card cannot be used for the PS4 so that means you can get anything else at Target for $25.

    • Raekwon says:

      The problem I’m reading is that the initial $25 reservation fee didn’t come off the retail price for the console which is how it works everywhere else.

      • MathManv2point0 says:

        Ah, I’ve never done the pre-order thing so I was not sure how they actually worked. So you’re telling me there is no extra cost for pre-ordering something? The total out-of-pocket for a pre-order is the same as day one retail at other places but not target?

        • Xenotaku says:

          At stores such as Gamestop, you have to pay a minimum of $5 to reserve anything, and it serves as a down payment. Let’s take Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds for example, since I personally have that reserved.

          I walk in, pay them $5, and I am guaranteed a copy of the game. The game costs $39.99 (+tax). But I’ve already put a down payment of $5, so I have $34.99 (+tax) left to pay when it comes out (Okay, actually, I’ve paid the whole thing off in full, so I just have to go in and they hand it to me).

          In this case, Target was telling people people that it cost $25 to reserve the system, and that you’d get a $25 gift card. In this case, were it Gamestop (or pretty much any other retailer), that $25 would be taken off of the $424.99 price, so you’d have $399.99 left to pay. Target, however, a) charged the full $424.99 price, and b) turned the $25 reservation into a gift card that you then cannot use to buy the system.

          Honestly, I don’t think (B) would be a problem, except, if you generally don’t buy anything at Target, what should’ve cost $424.99 and you get $25 to spend later, costs you $449.99.

  2. oomingmak says:

    I’ve reserved a bunch of things in my life but I don’t think I’ve ever come across a reservation fee that wasn’t taken off the price of the item being reserved.

    Is Target new at this or something?

  3. FusioptimaSX says:

    Since when could they pick and choose what Target items for sale could be purchased with said gift card?

    • Cara says:

      It depends on when the gift card is issued. Do you get it when you make the reservation, or do you get it when you redeem the reservation and get the PS4? If it is the latter, you can’t use a gift card on the same transaction when it gets purchased or awarded.

  4. CommonC3nts says:

    Target scammed people good out of $25.
    It is the standard that the money you pay for a reservation goes towards the console. Target is the first store to deviate from this and actually make you pay extra to reserve the system.
    Giving you $25 in store credit after the fact does not make up for pocketing your $25 for reserving the system.