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Gift Card Payback
updated: Feb 14, 2013, 2:20 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

In the past, if I purchased something with a gift card and then needed to return that item, I would get my refund in cash. Two days ago I bought a so-so printer out of the limited selection at Best Buy using two gift cards (Visa and AMEX) and the balance I paid in cash. When I returned it, they asked me for the cards and said she could only refund my purchase on a Best Buy gift card. Does anyone else remember getting cash back on a return of an item paid with a gift card?

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 374429 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-14 02:29 PM

California law. If the balance is under $5 you get cash back.


 COMMENT 374432 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-14 02:33 PM

Law notwithstanding, some places will give you back the entire balance if you paid with cash or a card they accept. Nordstrom, Saks, that type of store which prides itself on customer service will do this. All you have to do is ask.

But yeah, for long time (maybe 15 years?) most stores will only refund less than $5 of a remaining balance on a gift card, regardless of what you use to pay for it.

That's really not legal, because the law stipulates that cash will be refunded. But try to tell them that AND get them to do it. :(


 COMMENT 374436 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-14 02:39 PM

I just got cash back on a product I bought at LUSH with a gift card. Over $10 as I recall. In fact, that was the only option; they couldn't refund it to the gift card.


 COMMENT 374464 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-14 03:12 PM

Most often when people make purchases with a combination of gift cards and cash, and expect cash in return, it's part of a long-understood scam in the retail world of how to shuffle products and make money. It works like this:

Buy something on sale at one store (or cheaper someplace else). When the sale is over, return it without a receipt. Accept a gift card after complaining when they try and give you the lowest price in the last 30 days. Do this a few times, stock up gift cards.

Buy something more expensive with several gift cards and some cash. Keep the receipt. Return it to another store and demand cash.

You've just funneled a few (sometimes hundred) dollars out of a retail chain.

Chain retailers closed this loop by requiring any return that was partially bought on gift card to be refunded onto gift card.


 COMMENT 374469 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-14 03:17 PM

Keepin' it local.


 COMMENT 374614 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 05:10 AM

I received a $100 gift certificate from Victoria's Secret, and used my credit card for the shipping charge....the dress didn't fit right. I returned it....and they credited $100 back to my credit card ! N-i-c-e because I didn't like anything at Victoria's Secret anyway and would have preferred cash or a credit on credit card.


 COMMENT 374706 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 11:21 AM

From a sales associate:
If you used gift cards such as an Amex gift card or Visa gift card (as opposed to a direct Best Buy gift card) these gift cards are treated by retailers as a credit card. Unfortunately, the same rules apply to these credit gift cards as do personal credit cards, and sales associates/ managers can only refund the amount back onto the cards used. This is why I ALWAYS told customers to hold onto the empty cards until they were sure they would not be returning. Otherwise, a retailer can only offer store credit. People using credit cards often think the amount can be refunded through cash, or onto a different card. When returning an item purchased with credit you should ALWAYS have the card with you that you used. Some retailers don't need to swipe the card to put the amount back on it, but some do.
Save yourself and the sales associates a headache and always keep your empty cards! At least for a week or two. Better safe than sorry! (and pissed off....)


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