Protecting yourself

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.

I was too busy thinking that a rebate sent in the form of a Visa card with $50 on it meant that I would actually get to spend the money, no matter what.

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.

I was going to doggedly ask for the balance regardless of any bogus “expiration date.” I wasn’t going to yield to that “tiny” legal point until I’d gotten shot down by the top person at the company.

As I hit rep after rep who told me the card had expired 120 days after I got it, my “insides did not match my outsides.” As an experiment, I didn’t let it show in my voice.

I channeled Oprah’s “calm assurance” (a description of her I’m borrowing from Cesar Millan, “The Dog Whisperer”) to see if it might help.

I went through four reps, all of whom curtly told me the card had expired, flat out. No dice.

With each rejection, I asked to speak to that person’s superior. As I climbed the ladder, I repeated my “case” in an extremely calm voice: “I don’t think that’s legal, because I didn’t have a chance to finish spending the balance on the card.”

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.

“Well, it was supposed to be the promised rebate for my cell phone, so I’m going to keep going up,” I said.

After the call, I found out that the fine print, at least in Texas, where I bought the phone, can entitle the card company to reclaim the funds on an expired gift card, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. It shows that Texas Business & Commerce Code Ann. §35.42 says that “Expiration date must be disclosed as specified,” and Texas Property Code Ann. §72.1016 says that, “The stored value card is presumed abandoned to the extent of its unredeemed value on the earlier of: the card’s expiration date; or three years after the card was issued, if the card is not used after it is issued, or the date the card was last used.” But Cingular is now AT&T, based in Sacramento, Calif., and California Civil Code §1749.5 says, “Expiration date prohibited.”

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.

I was hoping they’d honor the card for the sake of that old-fangled concept, soon to be forgotten (?), “customer service.”

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.

“Persistence pays!” my co-worker said when I told her about it. Of course, we both said, we’ll believe it when the replacement card arrives in the mail.

I don’t know whether it was the fact that AT&T is in California, where cards can’t expire, or whether my voice, as calm as if I were choosing glazed vs. sprinkles at Dunkin’ Donuts, soothed the reps on all those recorded calls, or if the last rep I spoke to had just been taken out to lunch by her new boss and figured, “Hey, it’s not my money!” or what.

Next time I find a gift card with a balance, I could channel Tony Soprano and see how far that gets me.

And now that I work at, I know that gift cards can expire.

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  • Happy Camper

    Well following Mary’s suggestion, I called back and asked for a supervisor and used a very friendly and soft tone throughout the entire exercise. The supervisor Tonia was very responsive in getting me a replacement rebate card immediately. Merry Xmas to everyone!

  • Marcela Lozano

    Thanks heavens I read this. My promo card expired yesterday 12/31 I was aware of that (I got to say it, my fault) but I procastinate and just didn’t get to it. I thought for a moment that I had lost the $100 !!!! This morning my first thought was ohhhhhh!!! man!! the ATT card… I didn’t use it!!!!noooooo…After I had already throw it away, I google “ATT expired card rebate” , read this and run back to the garbage, took it out and call customer service.
    I put on my nicest voice, wish a happy new year to the rep and told her the story. At first she said no, but I contain myself and very nicely asked for help, I mentioned the looming economy, the state of my home finances, me being a loyal ATT customer… I tried everything I had. Finally she went to talk to someone and came back and agreed to re-issue the card.
    If I didn’t read your article this wouldn’t happen. I promise to spend the $$ as soon as I get the replacement . Thanks!!!

  • Happy Mom

    I also had a $100 AT&T rebate card that’s getting reissued after just one phone call! I had written it off—then found this article and decided I had nothing to lose by trying. For anyone who finds this article and has the same situation–AT&T Rebate Dept number is 866-852-8617. Yay!!!!!!! 😀

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure glad I came across this post. Before reading this, I had tried the hardball approach, “this can’t expire. I’m in California! You have to fix this.” This did not work.
    I then read this post, called the 866-852-8617 number, and approached it calmly and nicely. Success! They’re going to reissue my expired card.
    Thanks AT&T!

  • David P

    Not me. My AT&T Visa debit card expired without my realizing it, and when I called to ask oh-so-nicely for a new card, I was told no. I’ll bet they count on people like us to forget about the expiration date so that they don’t lose their money. I live in CA, but I’m not sure if the no-expiration law on gift cards extends to something like a debit card. I know that for a store gift card, it can’t expire. Anyone?

  • Anonymous

    So you’re saying by being a persistent as$hat, you force them to be annoyed enough by you to give you more money that you already had a chance to use, but were too lazy and unobservant to correctly spend? This seems less like entitlement and more like taking advantage of a system, just like all the fraud stories posted on this site.
    Also, due to your disrespectful tone about the people talking on the other line, I highly doubt you were cool and calm, instead bitching at them until they were tired of you. If you ever actually worked in a customer service job, you would know that people bitching is the easiest way to get what you want, but don’t ever come back because it only works once.

  • Larry K

    Called today 5/14/09, and they are going to reissue my $50.00 card. Card expires about one month ago. Be nice and see if that works. Had to go through three different people but life is good sometimes, you win when you should.
    My comments on Guest is that they must work in customer service, and hate that people do make mistakes, and if you have money coming, why not issue a new card?

  • guest

    Thanks to those who provided the rebate phone #. I called and asked very nicely and they lady basically said one time exception. I will be very careful from now on.

  • ayrton

    I saw this post prior to calling SanDisk, ended up speaking with a rep at the Visa clearing house who said had no way of reissuing the card but gave me the SanDisk number.
    Long story short I spoke to a Rep that checked to see if the offer was still valid and told me she couldn’t do anything. I politely asked to speak to a supervisor, she put me on hold for about 3 minutes. When back she said all supervisors were busy but got a one time permission to reissue the card. It’s in the mail!
    Perseverance does pay, thanks all of you for the ideas.

  • mia

    Don”t give up! My cards expiration showed 09/09. I was able to use it on the 29th but when I tried to buy gas yesterday, wah wah wah wahhhhh. Embarassing. I called this morning and was told too bad so sad and I let it go but then googled as I knew I was right and now have been told a new card for the remaining amount is on its way! Whew! The money is needed these days!

  • Lindsay

    If you are reading this and not sure if you should call back to ask for a supervisor – CALL BACK! I got shot down twice for this rebate card that i never received back in dec 2008. i am just now calling about it in nov 2009 and was told it has been expired since april 2009. It’s been expired for 7 MONTHS!!! I called back and KINDLY asked to speak with a supervisor. I’m serious when i say i was really super nice and explained that I feel like i was making a valid request for money that was truly owed to me. I also work in customer service and its true that being threatening just makes an enemy of you and you won’t get what you want. Anyway I spoke to the supervisor who got the card reissued to me witin about 2 minutes and without any hassle. SO GLAD I CALLED BACK – YOU WILL BE TOO!!!

  • happy

    thank you so much for this blog! i just called on my expired (9/09) rebate card and got a new one re-issued! it helped to speak to a supervisor!
    Thank you!


    Just got off the phone with att rebate center 8668528617 after talking to two different reps I got my card reissued(Thanks to the info I received from this site). Just be polite.

  • Matt

    I do find this story just a little bit funny. Online blog writer ($0 an hour) taking needless shots at customer service employees she feels are beneath her. Nice.

  • Anonymous

    Talk to the Supervisor, it really works!!!

  • Laurie Parker

    Thanks for the post. I just called, and after speaking with 3 people, and got a full refund on 2 cards.

  • Tracy Myers

    Thanks for this post. I experienced the same “this doesn’t feel right” sensation when I was told that AT&T policy does not allow any recovery of rebate value against expired cards. I called 2 times, asked for a supervisor (only after reading this post), and my expired cards will be reissued. Thanks again!

  • Cate

    I just wanted to thank you for this post! I called the number that a couple of people listed instead of the one on the back of the card ~ the first person was nice and said no that they can not authorize new cards. So, I politely said that I wasn’t trying to be difficult but did have problems with even trying to use it. It got declined 3 times and used 20 dollars on another that worked. So, I spoke to a supervisor and she put me on hold for a minute and came back and said that this one time only they will reissue them and should receive new ones within 21 days. I was not trying to get anything that wasn’t owed to us… so not sure if that 20 will be deducted or not.
    Just an FYI ~ previous cards went unspent too so I am so glad that I found this blog post! Thank you! =)

  • Amanda

    Thanks for this post! I just realized my card had expired as well. I called in after reading the advice of this post. The lady I spoke to was ademant that I had signed in the ‘terms and agreement’ rebate application that there would be an expiration to use the funds by. I certainly didn’t recall that so I asked her to get me a copy of that agreement. She said she would mail it to me. Anyone else run into this issue?
    I figure I will see if she really sends it and then go from there. All I want is the money due to me, it shouldn’t be so hard. I wonder where the money goes that is rightfully mine?
    Congrats to those of you who a card re-issued! 🙂

  • AT&T customer

    Thank you for this post. Just got an expired ATT rebate card replaced. Had to ask to go up a level and then approval came from a level above that but the important thing is they did the right thing.

  • Save Ferris

    This works! Took about 20 minutes, but for $100 worth of rebates, that works out to $300/hr. Mention that you’re a valued ATT customer and plead ignorance about the expiration date. Good luck!

  • Don

    Worked for me too. 10 min = $50 bucks back and I don’t feel quite a stupid for not spending it earlier. Called the 866-852-8617 number, was politly refused, asked for superviser who said they could not do it if it had been authorized but they would contact ATT customer service and ask. Another min on hold then she gave me the one time exception line and said it would be here in 21 days.

  • Hello,
    Wow! I too have an expired Verizon $50.00 rebate card that exp. 7/10. I am really sick about it. I purchased the phones in Ca. and I did think there was a law for expired cards. Has any one dealt with Verizon for an expired card? This makes the whole rebate think not worth it!!!!! And now the banks get more money!

  • Bridg

    Thanks so much for this article! My card expired exactly a year ago, just found it in an old drawer. I followed your advice, called 866-852-8617, and was sweet as pie to everyone. I talked to 2 girls, asked for a supervisor, and instead of speaking to me, she just told the girl to reissue the card! Bought the phone in California but live in NY, ATT is involved in lawsuits in both over rebates, maybe that’s why? THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! $100 back, great early Christmas gift!

  • lilly

    It worked! Thanks for everyones advice!

  • Anonymous

    Dear Mary,
    You work for now? I need help with a Visa gift card that expired (tried to use it and it didn’t work even before it expired). and cardex (company that sold the card to my employer) will not help…i supposedly talked to the VPs…help!!

  • 10happy

    I called the regular att customer service number who patched me into the the 866 number you are all talking about. The rep immediately said there was nothing she could do. Shocked and disappointed I hung up. But after reading all these replies, I called the 866-852-8617 number again and that rep put me on hold to return saying they would re-issue a new card to me and I would have it in 21 day. Assuming I will actually recieve a new card in 21 days, I’m thrilled. Persistence did pay off for me.

  • happyme1

    hi all. I came across this post while trying to redeem my expired att promotion debit card. Tried att customer care but no luck called the no. given above and after 5 min of talk with supervisor they agreed to mail me new card in 21 days as one time exception. Now will wait for this card. Persistence pays.

  • abc

    persistence did pay for me too, but they took off $10 as a fine

  • Guest 2358

    Would it not be easier to use the cards before they expire.

  • creativepart

    I called. They said no. I told them I tried to use it and it wouldn’t work. She still said NO. I asked for the supervisor and got put on hold. After a while the same person came back and said her supervisor was in a meeting but she did speak with him and they would send me a replacement card withing 21 days.
    So, I only spoke to the one young lady.

  • deb

    Does anyone know if the expiration date for the verizon card rebate is 3 months or a year?

  • MJ

    Thanks for the tips and especially telephone number. Had two $50 cards that expired Aug 1. First AT&T said “No dice” but I continued with the most considerate, nicest voice and manner I could relate – and finally got the girl to do the paperwork to replace them. I’ll have to check back & see what happens (she suggested checking but really worth the 15 minutes it took!

  • Mel

    I called once and was transferred to the rebate center number listed on the back of the card. They said they would put in a request and I would hear back within 21 days. I was disconnected due to the wonderful AT&T service that I have and when I called the 866- number back I was told No and that they could not transfer me to the people I was originally speaking to because there are no reissues. I then asked for a supervisor and she told me I had to call the Rebate Center on the back of the call. I hope they’ll send me another one. It’s frustrating because I tried using it several times and was denied. Today, I am two days past the exp date and didn’t even realize that I only had 3 months to use it. It’s absolutely true that the service you get depends on who you get on the phone and if they like your voice. I was very nice as you all suggested! Thanks for your inspiration!

  • Amy

    Thanks so much for the post!! I did the same thing, spoke very calmly and after 20 minutes and 3 people, I got a new card sent to me!! I live in California and kept explaining that these expiration dates were illegal in California and that where policy conflicts with the law, the law should prevail. Thank you, thank you!!

  • KM

    CA law pertains to GIFT cards, not promotion cards

  • JC

    I have a MetaBank $50.00 Visa Promotion Card (not yet expired) that Lithia Motors gave me for spending over $1,000 on a car repair. Nobody will accept or even swipe the card because they say they don’t get paid by the bank. I thought Visa merchants had to accept Visa cards (assuming they aren’t stolen) but they don’t seem to care about that. I complained to Lithia and they said someone will get back to me but so far no response. I can see this card expiring without my being able to use it.

  • Czar

    10 year plus ATT customer—
    Had a Gift Card- my wife gave me a couple years ago and was going to upgrade my phone with this card finally, last night. So we spent an hour changing my account around and when it came down to payment, the giftcard was declined… But this ATT store, the same ATT store my wife bought the damn piece of plastic, could not for the life of them do anything about it, but say “sorry it’s expired, try the number on the back” It expired supposedly in 9/12, “for online purchases”. So today I embarked on a “dial every couple of hours saga” and talked to about 3-4 people at their customer service office… I mentioned I am in California and that Giftcards don’t have expiration dates here… I was nice, I was clear and tried to get them to sympathize for a damn second, with a customer that wants to spend more of their hard-earned money at their stores….(don’t know why after this experience). All I got from those calls is a number where you leave a message (888)861-7574… SO three times I did that. Made me feel warm and fuzzy when I left a message, given how many people they have in Cust Service… Made me lose faith a bit… Anyways long story short, I just got a call from this number and the girl on the other line must’ve been in their Master’s program for Customer service said they’d issue me a check this week for the full amount and apologized for any inconvenience this may have caused…. My question is why did it take 5 phone calls and 3 messages to take care of what this person did for me? Cmon ATT… any more of this awesome service and ill have to look elsewhere… You are not the only Big Phone company…

  • Anonymous

    Wow, what an unbelievably arrogant, rude tone to take with employees who are just trying to do their jobs. How dare you look down upon them because of their salaries or job titles? Maybe they’re working their ways through school so they can have a real job, unlike you. Please never reproduce.

  • A

    Called and asked very politely for supervisor…
    Got my remaining balance of a $100 Vsa card reissued
    after it expired. I had to call twice, finally got a guy in Corporate who could do it !!!
    Thanks for the Advice!

  • Virginia Ekelund

    Wow everyone seems to have gotten a great result here but I am not getting the same treatment. I traded in an iphone for a $200 rebate. I did not get around to using the card until a week ago and learned that the darn thing had an expiration date. I am a California resident so I am not sure why they won’t agree that the card is not allowed to expire. I tried calling several times to politely request that a new card be issued. I have yet to get someone to agree to reissue the card or send another form of payment. I too have been an ATT customer for a very long time. They took my phone and I have gotten nothing for it. Very unsatisfied customer!

  • mauigirl28

    Ugg I have a Verizon $50.00 rebate card issued from Citi prepaid servies. The card expired 3/14 and was never activated. I purchased a phone in CA and live in CA. CITI (Citibank) will not reissue another card. The keep quoting state and federal law prohibits reissues. I then asked so where does the money go then? No anwser just repeated the quote. After going up from agent to supervisor to manager got nowhere but told to call Verizon and the same quote repeated. After calling Verizon they told me to call CITI card services again. I would think that there has to be a law about these funds. Any sugguestions getting it reissued?

  • Caligirl92082

    My 50.00 rebate card issued by Verizon thru Citibank expired with the full $50 on it on 07/14. Called tonight and spoke to a rep and then to her supervisor. Was given the exact info as Mauigirl28. Will retry again tomorrow. Hoping for a better outcome.

  • robbed

    I had a Verizon $50 rebate card that expired in 6/14. realized it had expired when I went tried to use it a few weeks ago. spoke to 3 people at Citi and 3 at Verizon with no resolution. Verizon says it is out of their hands once it goes to Citi and “You had your chance to use it and didn’t so it is gone”. Citi constantly starts their sentence with “I apologize but…” and refuses to do anything. So where is that money? I didn’t get it, so who has this $50 and won’t give it back? despite what Verizon says it didn’t “disappear” someone has it.

  • dennis syracuse

    Moved and lost sight of this Verizon debit $50 card – found it and it had expired.
    called – got no where
    went to Verizon store – nothing
    will keep trying but best revenge will be not to use their service and cancel as the contracts expire – I have 4 family phones so looking forward to hurting them where it hurts – their pocket its the only thing they think about

  • John Cambray

    Verizon would absolutely not reissue card. I had 150.30 left on it. After about 1 hour and 5 transfers the verizon rep credited the remaining amount to my phone account. If they won’t reissue try to at lest get a credit to your account. This practise is very deceptive and should be outlawed.

  • Info

    They have to comply due to Federal regulations that were put in place because of deceptive practices. The credit card act of 2009 deals with:
    Reined-in expiration or ‘valid thru’ dates
    Virtually all issuers print a “valid thru” date on gift cards, which allows recipients to use the cards for online and telephone “credit card” transactions that require that information.
    In many cases, that date also represents the card’s expiration date. If you don’t use it by then, that’s it. The card is rendered worthless.The credit card industry calls this “breakage.”
    Under the new law, gift cards cannot expire for at least five years after they were last loaded with money (unless, of course, the full value has been used). These policies also must be “clearly and conspicuously stated.” The Fed’s new regulations let issuers choose how to accomplish this — either by making the expiration date five years away, or with prominent disclosures that point consumers toward their replacement cards. In addition, the proposed rules prohibit “the imposition of any fees for replacing an expired certificate or card to ensure that consumers are able to access the underlying funds for the full five-year period.”
    This also applies to rebate reward cards. So if it expires and you just let it go, they will keep your money. And when you contact them they will tell you “Sorry……” but they do have to replace the funds without charging you. Still shady practices, but if you let them know you are informed that they have to replace it within the five year period, they acknowledge it with less resistance.
    For reference:

  • csr

    I work for one of the companies you’re taking about and ultimately it comes down to the terms and conditions of the program. Some programs let us reissue the card and some don’t. The money end up going back to the original company that issued the rebate. Calling a million times doesn’t always work. Read the fine print and when in doubt call and ask. And fyi I make $10.50, have 4 kids my own home and vehicle. For someone with your attitude I would have said no with the biggest smile I my face.

  • Paul Howard

    All gift cards and rebate cards should not be legal. Companies know that for one reason or another many of them will never be redeemed. It is a scam.
    Don’t overcharge me to begin with and you won’t need to give me a rebate.

  • sandy blunt

    I have 3 rebate card that expired 12/14, never noticed that they had a expiration date, so far no help at all with Verizon in New York helping me at all, now I am out the 225.00

  • Anonymous

    Last year I received a $500.00 VISA Debit reward card from my last employer after 10 years of work. Today I noticed that the card expired about four months ago. When I called OmniCards I was told that my balance was zero because all funds were removed from my account on the expiration date. Was it legal to remove all funds from my Reward Card?

  • sonicmoon

    Had the same thing happen to me recently… was issued a $25 promotional debit MasterCard from Citibank for the purchase of an Oral-B electric toothbrush. It had an expiration date, but my impression was that gift cards, credit cards, debit cards, etc issued with a preset amount were not subject to expiration in my state (California). When I noticed the expiration date while attempting to use on, I called the customer service number on the back of the card and reached an overseas call center (of course). I explained the situation and they were nice enough to reissue me a new card with the remaining balance on it (the entire $25 since I had not used it yet).
    I researched the difference between card types and found that even in CA, debit cards specifically – even when used for gift amounts, rebates, promotions, etc – do expire according to the date set on the card. The only ones that do not expire are gift cards issued by stores – as long as they are NOT debit cards.
    My impression is that stores and companies issue debit cards for promotions, rebates, etc because they DO have an expiration date and their funds are not left in limbo indefinitely that way.

  • Vultron Ruznic

    The commentary about their wages was kind of gross. Otherwise, cool story of perseverance. $50 well earned.

  • Mon

    How did you find a number with a live person? As i reach out to meta bank, the only number only has digital voice, no option to speak to a live person.