Were These Gift Cards Stolen, Or Gobbled By The Mail-Sorting Machine?

We were very sad to read about a family in St. Louis who opened up a Christmas card from Grandma only to find $350 in Walmart gift cards missing. The victim took his story to the local news, assuming that the cards had been stolen at some point after mailing. That’s certainly possible, since human beings are terrible. There’s another possibility, though.

“I was appalled,” the father in this family told local TV station KTVI. The missing cards were $50 cards for each of his sons, and a $250 card for the entire family. “It was all I had for Christmas. My Christmas present from my mom was giving my boys a Christmas. So actually that $250 card for me was to spend on them so they would have Christmas here.”

That is awful, and we hope that the USPS does investigate and find out where those gift cards ended up. We noticed, though, that the cards were sent with a single first-class Forever stamp:


Thanks to a postal worker’s useful holiday mailing tips that we published last week, we now know that sending gift cards in a regular first-class envelope is something that mailers do every day, but it can be a recipe for heartbreak.

“If you decided to send gift cards,” our tipster told us, “don’t argue when the clerk advises that you pay the extra twenty cents to make a card or letter non-machinable.  Gift cards come out of envelopes all the time.”  Paying a little extra to keep your card or letter out of the giant mail-gobbling machines might be enough to protect your gift cards. Also: throw an address sticker on the card, or write your recipient’s address on it. “If there is an address on the card, we will send it on to the destination or back to the sender,” our tipster told us.

The USPS told the TV station that they take the man’s allegations very seriously, and are investigating the disappearance of his gift cards. If something similar happens to you, start by calling their Office of the Inspector General at 1-888-USPS-OIG (1-888-877-7644).

Gift cards stolen from Christmas letter [KTVI]

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  1. CommonC3nts says:

    It is amazing how careless people are with money.
    It would have been way better to mail checks or better yet just deposit money into the parents bank account directly.
    Would anyone mail cash, so why do they mail things like gift cards?

    Also did they not copy down the gift card numbers or a minimum take a picture of the front and back of each card and the receipt??
    Walmart should void the stolen cards after they provide the numbers, but if walmart does not they can use the cards on walmart.com before anyone else does again that is if they had common sense and took pictures or at least wrote all the numbers down.

  2. schwartzster says:

    “pay the extra twenty cents to make a card or letter non-machinable.”

    How does one accomplish this? I know odd-shaped letters may require this surcharge, but how do you signify that an otherwise-acceptable letter should not be machine-processed?

    Also, good tips on putting an address on the card, though I agree with CommonC3nths that mailing gift cards probably wasn’t the best way to accomplish this particular money transfer.