Gephardt helps Millcreek woman who bought $500 in gift cards that didn’t work

Nov 1, 2023, 11:04 PM

MILLCREEK — A gift card can be a great choice when you’ve got someone hard to shop for. That is until you find out someone else has activated that gift card even before you bought it.

It happened to a Millcreek woman, twice. And when her fight for replacements began to stall, she decided to Get Gephardt. 

Marilyn Barton’s receipt clearly shows she purchased two VISA prepaid debit gift cards for $1,000 – $500 each. The money was to help her daughter pay a medical bill and her thought was these cards would allow for the payment to be easily made online. But when the payment was attempted, the cards were declined.

 “The one had $18 on it,” Barton said. “And the other one was in somebody else’s name and couldn’t use it at all.”

How can that be?

She got on the horn with the U.S. Bank National Association, which administers the cards. What ensued was weeks of back and forth.

First, she was asked to fax in all her information. When that didn’t work, she was asked to fax it again but this time in larger text and images.

Then she says she was asked to mail it in. About a month later she got one replacement card for $500. That’s half of what she spent.

 “It is so sad that people have to go through so much work,” Barton said. “And then I didn’t even get it all back.”

Tired of sitting on the phone with the gift card folks, she decided it was time to pick up the phone and call me.

“I need the money back.”

So, this time we reached out to the company on Barton’s behalf, not through customer service but through the company’s corporate communications department. And we heard back right away.

In an email, U.S. Bank National Association’s vice president of public affairs and communications wrote: “…thanks for reaching out to us about this. We have been in touch with the customer and have resolved this.”

Barton said she is now, finally, whole. But she hopes something is done to make it easier on consumers when issues arise.

“Most important – I don’t want this to continue,” she said.

Why wasn’t the money there in the first place? We still don’t know, but it is a fairly common problem – either due to an error or a scammer draining the card.

Something to keep in mind as we head into the busy ‘gift-card-giving season’ is that federal law does not protect gift cards that do not work.

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Gephardt helps Millcreek woman who bought $500 in gift cards that didn’t work