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.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.