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Persistence pays! Got a refund on expired rebate gift card
I was in a perfectly good mood before I called to find out the balance on a Visa rebate gift card from Cingular, now AT&T.
The gift card was a rebate that I got after buying a Motorola V3i Razr cell phone from Cingular in January 2007. At the time, I didn't notice the fine print on the back of the card: It would expire in June 2007.
Shortly after I activated the card on some murky date in spring 2007, a grocery store "team member" wouldn't take it as payment for part of my total bill, and told me I'd have to call the card company to find out the balance. I put the card in a "safe place," meaning another purse, and recently rediscovered it.
I had to find out why the card was being rejected. Before the call, I hadn't checked out the gift card legalities in my state or in the state where Cingular-now-AT&T might be located.
The first rep (Miss $5.85 an hour, living at home and walking to work in ragged tennis shoes?) said in a completely unservice-y tone, "Excuse me?"
I asked to speak to her supervisor. A bored male ( $7 an hour, crashing on the Goodwill sofa of his friend's one-bedroom apt., surrounded by empty pizza boxes?) told me I could speak to his supervisor as well after he told me the card's balance was not valid, but I would just hear the same thing. The card was a promotion, and it had expired, he scolded, as if I were a customer who'd tried to use a stolen card.
The card was an "open-loop" or "spendable anywhere" Visa with $50 loaded onto it via MetaBank, not a "gift certificate." California Civil Procedures Code §1520.5 says, "Gift certificates purchased after 1997 are not subject to escheat. The escheat law does apply to any gift certificate that has an expiration date and that is given in exchange for money or any other thing of value." But this was a rebate, not a gift card I got in exchange for money. "Escheat" means the state can reclaim the money.
I wasn't backing down, regardless of which state's civil code did apply, and again, while I was on the phone, I still hadn't even checked.
Rung by rung, the reps stubbornly said I had a zero balance. The card had expired. I didn't use a "tone," with anyone, but repeated, "I didn't have a chance to use it that fast, so I would like to speak to your supervisor."
I thought about hanging up when the third rep ($10 an hour?) left me on hold forever, but finally I reached a supervisor ($20 an hour, own apartment?) who said she'd mail me a replacement card.
And now that I work at CreditCards.com, I know that gift cards can expire.
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