Ralphs grocery stores and Best Buy Electronics stores Complaint

Beware of Gift Cards - Gift Cards

- Ralphs La Jolla

While shopping at Ralphs Grocery store at Christmas time I noticed that they had a huge selection of gift cards. Yahoo! I thought. This will save me the time and parking hassel of driving to many locations to purchase gift cards for the people on my list that I want to give them to.

I should mention right here that there was no signage warning me that gift card sales are FINAL and that if I purchase a gift card at Ralphs and the recipient doesn't want a gift card from that particular business, there is NO recourse for return. Yes, that's right. Even though you have paid for the card with your hard earned money and the card represents money, you cannot return it for a refund if the recipient desires something else.

Ralph's story is that the minute they activate the card the money goes to the other business, (in this case Best Buy Electronics stores). So they cannot give you money that they don't have.

Ok, that made some sense, so I went to Best Buy and after waiting for the better part of an hour while a very nice supervisor tried to get corporate to help me, I was told that Ralphs had the money and that Best Buy couldn't refund me money that they didn't have.

I made one more attempt to go to the manager at Ralphs (another hour of my time) and was told absolutely not, they could not refund money that was already in the possession of Best Buy. I asked for the Ralphs corporate office number and after being on hold for 20 minutes the person I spoke with there confirmed what the manager had told me and said I would have to pursue Best Buy for the refund.

As I am writing, I am on hold for over 20 minutes with Best Buy corporate offices who so far assure me that it is there policy not to refund third party gift cards. Unless purchased in their stores, they take no responsibility for the cards that bear their name.

What I find interesting is that I could take this card to Best Buy and purchase $350.00 worth of merchandise and they would do that because it represents money that they have already been paid. Yet they won't give me that money back now. Yesterday I watched hundreds of dollars being returned to customers who brought back merchandise that they had received as gifts but didn't want. Yet my son and I are not allowed the same privilege. Something is very wrong with this system!

I still have no resolution and somewhere out there in cyber-space is my $350.00. I feel VERY STRONGLY that people need to be warned that those racks of gift cards that seem to represent convenience, actually represent frustration, time waste, disallusionment and no body taking responsibility for having taken your money. If the recepient of your gift card has another idea about what gift he wants and where he would like to purchase it, too bad. He is stuck with the card he has.

Maybe my grandparents had the right idea. Just put the cash in a card and save yourself a lot of angst. Or if you absolutely feel a gift card is much classier and that is what you want to give...purchase it directly at the store its coming from. Best Buy assurred me that had I purchased the card directly from them they would have a receipt from which they could issue a refund.

So far a great deal of time and frustration have been expended and as yet I still have $350.00 that has left my bank account but neither Ralphs nor Best Buy will claim receipt of it. Buyer BEWARE.
Submitted by Paula Shaw

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Reader Comments:

Posted by crazee4ball on 08/21/2013
This is a letter of request that ALL prepaid Credit Cards be locked up instead of left out at end isles. We planned our vacation and very carefully, notified out banking institute and our personal credit card company that we would be traveling during July 2013. Our son was invited to be on a Baseball Team that would play at Cooperstown Dreams Park, NY. We were very excited for him as well as for our family as this was to be our First Family Vacation EVER!! In preparation, we did not want to expose our personal accounts or cash to fraud or theft so we purchased 3 - $500 ($1500.00!!) Visa Gift Cards (plus the cost of Activating the 3 Cards) to use for purchases for our vacation, as we would be in Boston, MA., then on to the Dreams parks for Baseball Tournament for our son in New York. This was such an honor and dream come true for him!! Little did we know that YOUR Prepaid Gift Card had been fraudulently hacked! We did not find this out until we were 5500 miles from home when we called our local Ralphs store after one of the cards declined where the cards were purchased! We were told that this has been happening a lot that the Packaging did not match the Card inside and there was NOTHING that they could do that we would have to call the Gift Card Department. We were horrified!! Here we are 5500 Miles from home and now we were out $1500!! This was outrageous!! Once we returned home, I went grocery shopping at the same store that we purchased the card (My Ralphs Store!). Upon checking out, I spoke with the Front End Manager who was checking out at the time, he stated that this happens as thieves go into the store, replace the bar code with theirs and reseal the card – so when you activate the card, it actually activates and puts $ on their card instead of the card that Your customers purchase. I also found out that there were numerous EMPLOYEES FIRED for this as well!!!!! This was an Outrage! I am not sure how our gift cards were stolen/fraudulently used or mismarked, but the thought of this happening to another one of YOUR customers should not be tolerated by Kroger. We are not sure if this issue has even been brought to your attention before now, but now you know that you have a HUGE problem with Gift Cards! STILL FIGHTING TO GET OUR MONEY BACK!!! After 3 weeks!!!

Posted by crazee4ball on 08/23/2013
Well, Kroger stepped up to the plate and made things right!! They went ABOVE AND BEYOND my expectations! THANK YOU Kroger/Ralphs!! Not all companies would have stood behind their products that they sell, but I am here to say - KROGER/Ralphs ROCKS!
Thanks again Kroger/Ralphs! You have earned my trust back!

My advice is still BEWARE of any prepaid gift cards as there are so many ways that they can be hacked and stolen without you even knowing it!

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