Posted by Chuck on September 22, 2014

Published on September 22nd, 2014 | by Chuck


GiftCardMall Return, Cole Haan Return, Amex Gift Card Return & Walmart Return

‘Tis the Season for returns. Or maybe I’m just having bad luck. In any case, I’ve been getting lots of returns/cancellations recently.

GiftCardMall Return

We recently mentioned a small money-maker on eBay. Basically the idea was to buy Staples gift cards which were on sale and resell them at a profit. See Small Money-Maker on eBay. I actually bought four $100 Staples gift cards, by using two separate eBay accounts.

Well, it turns out there was a little problem: the Staples gift cards that they issued were faulty, in that the PIN doesn’t work. As per the email I received from GCM, they’re still good for in-store purchases since that doesn’t need a PIN, but in order to use online you need to use a substitute PIN – different from the PIN on the card – which they sent me via email. You may need to call them in order to have them send you the substitute PIN. (CSR said that the problem is fixed and all future gift cards will have the proper PIN on them.)


From the email


This would be a nice fix if I wanted to actually use the gift card, but it won’t quite work to resell a gift card with a faulty PIN. I called GCM; here’s how the conversation went:

Me: “Well, I actually bought these cards as a gift for someone, and it won’t work for me to start explaining to the recipient that they should be using a different PIN.” “Can you issue me new gift cards instead of these?”

CSR: “Sure, we’ll issue you new gift cards. You’ll receive them within 7 business days.”

Me: ” Great. Thanks.”

Whey, took care of that.

A few minutes later I get a call from GCM:

CSR: “Is this Chuck? I spoke to the other department, and unfortunatly we can’t issue you new cards, so we’ll have to give you the substitute PINs.”

Me: “Uh, that’s really not going to work for me to start explaining to the recipient of the gift that he needs to use a substitute PIN. Can we cancel the orders instead?”

CSR: “Sure, we’ll go ahead and cancel the orders.”

So that was that. Now I’m just waiting for the refund to post.

One interesting question remains whether the portal cash-back from eBay will reverse itself because of the cancellation. As of now, it’s showing up as “confirmed” in my Topcashback account. I once got 3% from Ebates for buying clothing on Amazon. I ended up returning it and the cash-back never reversed itself. Will eBay be the same? We’ll have to wait and see…

Cole Haan Return

There’s an Amex Offer running now which gives $50 off $200 at Cole Haan (CH). I looked into buying gift cards from CH and reselling them at a profit, but the margins didn’t seem to great. The resell value is at most 74-75%, a break-even. Even if we’ll add 2% cash-back that I get from my FIA Amex, I’d just come out 1-2% ($2-$4) ahead.

But then I saw on Cashbackmonitor that BeFrugal is giving 5% cash-back for CH purchases. Now, I don’t know if a gift card will trigger the cash-back – sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t – so I decided to try it out. If all goes well and I manage to sell it for 75%, then I’ll break-even on the sale. I’ll end up with a profit of the 2% cash-back from the credit card, plus the 5% cash-back from the portal.

Based on a couple of factors, I was more inclined to believe that in this case I would get the cash-back from the portal, so I wanted to see what would happen. I’m not sure if it’s actually worth the hassle or if I’m just a little portal-crazy (and portal-curious), but I figured I’d give it a shot.

I placed the order on September 5 and I got an immediate email from Amex thanking me for using the offer. Okay, so far so good. The charge actually moved from pending to completed on my credit card bill, and the $50 Amex credit hit properly. But the item still hadn’t shipped. This is odd, because most merchants say that they won’t complete the charge before shipping.

A week later, I get an email from CH saying that my order was canceled and a refund was processed to my credit card. I call up to find out what happened. One CSR told me that the gift card was actually processed for my order, but it was deactivated afterward – she doesn’t know why.

Finally I got a response from the billing department via email that, “Unfortunately, we were unable to verify the information provided on the order. We were unable to process the order and the order has been cancelled.” The billing address/name/shipping address all matched, so I really don’t know what the issue was.

Anyway, what was interesting here is that I had already received the $50 back on my statement. Now, for the big question: 

Did Amex reverse the $50 credit?

Yes, it was reversed. I did get excited for a few days, but eventually the credit was reversed.

What about the portal? Did the cash-back post as a pending credit?

No. It’s showing the click-through, but no pending cash-back. It is possible that if the order would not have been cancelled, I would have received the pending cash-back. But – being that the charge actually hit my credit card for a few days –  I’m more inclined to believe that CH just doesn’t pay out on gift cards.

As of now, I don’t think I’m going to try to reorder, unless I hear that CH pays out portal cash-back for gift cards. Can anyone confirm either way?

Amex Gift Card Return

Last month, I purchased a small item at Rite-Aid and I decided to pay with an Amex gift card that I was trying to use up. I ended up returning the item and they refunded the money to the Amex gift card.

As I’m walking out of the store, I noticed that the cashier actually refunded me slightly more than the purchase price (she added the tax twice). I immediately recalled a post from Grant of who had a problem when he was refunded more than the purchase price on his Amex for Target (AFT). The refund got reversed since it was more than the original charge. I reasoned that if AFT – a reloadable  card – can’t support over-refunds, then a non-reloadable Amex gift card certainly wouldn’t. I decided to wait it out and see what happens.

In the end the refund did process properly for the full amount – more than the original charge.


SS amex gc return rite-aid3

 Here’s part of the transaction history on my Amex gift card

So there you have it: AFT can not be over-refunded, but Amex gift card can. (Or maybe Grant’s campaign paid off and Amex switched the system so that all prepaids can be over-refunded?)

Walmart Refund

Okay, this isn’t actually a refund, more like a cancellation.

We mentioned the new Amex Offer of $5 off $15 at Walmart. I have a bunch of Amex cards – some of my own cards and some authorized-user cards – and I was trying to buy a $15 Walmart gift card on each of my registered Amex cards. Then I’ll either use them of resell them at a profit.

If you have numerous registered Amex cards, the best approach here is to buy up $15 e-gift cards and then combine them for one single physical gc or e-gc, depending on your preference. At they allow you to use up to four gift cards per order. So suppose you have 5 registered Amex cards, here’s the best approach: purchase four $15 e-gcs, then purchase a $75 gc/e-gc and pay $60 with the four $15 gcs and the remaining $15 with a fifth Amex card.

Anyway, I made a few orders without a hitch, but then Walmart started cancelling orders on me.


Here’s part of the email

I’m fairly certain that all of the information I gave was correct (the pending charge is showing up in my Amex account), so I wondering how to proceed. Numerous Slickdeals members also report getting orders cancelled. They mention that physical gcs seem to process easier than e-gcs, so I may need to try some physical gcs.

But I realized that all the previous orders which had gone through had been on my own Amex cards, so the name of the “sender” and the name on the Walmart account – matched the name on the credit card. The problems started when I was trying to use a card of my authorized-user, despite the name of sender and name on the Walmart account being my own name. So that may be one of the triggers to get an order cancelled.

Since then, I made two orders and used the “checkout as guest” option, so that the name on my Walmart account wouldn’t be a trigger. I also made sure that the name of the “sender” matched the name on the credit card. Both orders went through fine. Hopefully, the rest will go through this way without a hitch.

Posted on: 9/22/2014    By: Chuck

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Great read, seems like it would be hard to keep track of all the emails, orders, cancellations, etc. I think you would have better luck buying GCs in store, since after you buy the gift card, the merchant can’t really cancel your order afterwards.

William Charles

Bit more of a hassle purchasing in store though. I usually buy online like Chuck does, I might start buying in store if this type of stuff keeps happening though.


I thought I was the only one having GC purchase issues lately. Taking advantage of the Amex Staples credit and Sears bonus portal miles ended up with both of my orders needing additional verification. Sears and Staples both called me about them. Sears put me through the ringer with public record info and verifying email of purchaser and recipient among other questions. Staples just wanted to verify email on file for the order. I also did the Walmat offer, one via a Twitter connected card and the other through AMex offers proper. The first one went through and the second didn’t. For sure I will try again.

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