My $503.95 Dilemma with CVS and American Express
The following is a long, true story. The names and places have been blacked out to protect the innocent. Enjoy…
Some background information first. On March 28, I went to my local CVS and bought 2 PayPal My Cash Cards. I tend to split my *large* CVS purchases onto different receipts to eliminate the need to scan my drivers license and today was no different. I grabbed 2 PayPal My Cash Cards from the gift card rack and brought them up to the checkout counter. There was no line in the morning and I chatted with the cashier for a few minutes. The first PayPal My Cash Card loaded fine, but the second card did not ring up properly. I told her I would go grab another card from the gift card rack. That PayPal My Cash Card rang up fine and I took both cards and receipts home. I used my American Express Target card and a really old American Express Prepaid card (pre-Bluebird). Here is a copy of receipt #1:
I was able to drain both American Express cards with one purchase. Life was good.
A few days later, I grabbed the cards on my desk and realize that I had a PayPal My Cash Card and a Vanilla Reload Card. Where did my other PayPal My Cash Card go? I loaded the PayPal My Cash Card to my PayPal account without any problems. I then tried to load the Vanilla Reload Card to my Bluebird Card and got an error message that said the card was not activated. I called Incomm (parent company that issues Vanilla Reload Cards) and was told that the Vanilla Reload Card was never activated and had no balance. Uh oh, this is bad.
I still had the original receipt (see receipt above) so I took that back to the same CVS on Monday morning. I talked to the store manager and tried to explain what happened. My story is hard to believe, but he decided to go in the back room and check the security footage. After 10 minutes, he came back to me and said he saw the problem. During the time when I bought the first PayPal My Cash Card and the second PayPal My Cash Card, the cashier had put the activated PayPal My Cash Card to the side of the register. After activating the second PayPal My Cash Card, she handed me a Vanilla Reload Card on the side of the register. I both prepaid cards stacked on top of one another with receipts placed in between the cards. I didn’t give it a second look because I had done this hundreds of times before and never had a problem. Anyway, by looking at the video recording, the manager saw that the activated PayPal My Cash Card was thrown away by mistake. Nooooo!
All was not lost, he said he would be able to issue a refund back to the card I had used to pay for the PayPal My Cash Card. Since I only had my American Express Target card with me (and not the other American Express Prepaid card), I told him he could just refund the full amount back to that card. See the refund slip below:
A few days later when I checked my American Express Target card online, I saw the original purchase of $350.94 (remember I split the payment over 2 cards), the $503.95 refund from CVS, and a $503.95 “Reversal of Chargeback Credit” – what the heck is that? I called the American Express Target card phone number and was told that since the refund amount ($503.95) was more than the original purchase ($350.94), they automatically rejected the refund and gave it back to the merchant (CVS). I didn’t like that decision…
I went back into the same CVS and spoke with the store manager again. I could tell he was getting annoyed with me and I didn’t want to upset him. After all, this is my favorite CVS store – so close to work and a Walmart. I told him not to worry, I would figure it out.
I called CVS and was told that I had to talk to American Express. After talking to American Express, I was told I would have to go to CVS and have the store manager process refunds for each card for the original purchase amount. The store manager told me that he could only process a refund once and was unwilling to process another refund. I was totally screwed. No one could help me…
After contacting the CVS Twitter team (I love Twitter, by the way), I was told that CVS’s accounting department would contact American Express and see what was going on. After about a week, I got a call from CVS that said that their accounting department contacted American Express and confirmed that the refund was processed back to my American Express Target card. I said yes, the refund was processed back to the American Express Target card, but then American Express rejected the refund. Again, I felt screwed. No one could help me…
Then I had a *brilliant* idea to call the American Express Target card customer service number and request that they conference call in CVS’s customer service. It was an interesting experience since I’m sure it was a first for both representatives. They both spoke very professionally to one another and it made me smile. After the American Express Target card representative confirmed that the refund was processed and then rejected, the CVS customer service representative understood the problem and said she would contact the regional store manager for my local CVS and the would contact the local store manager about the situation. A few days later, I got a call from my local CVS store manager and he said that I could come in anytime and bring both of the American Express cards to process the refunds. The following morning, I went inside and spoke with the store manager who promptly refunded both cards with the same amount that was originally charged to them.
The original refund was done on March 31 and the replacement refunds were done on May 9. This was a good sign, but I had to wait a few days to see what American Express would do. Would they screw with me again?
Luckily after a few days, I checked both American Express cards and saw both had a positive balance on them. So the next day I went back to CVS and bought 2 One Vanilla Gift Cards and liquidated both American Express cards.
After successfully loading both One Vanilla Gift Cards to my American Express Serve Card, I was finally free of this problem. What a month it had been.
Lessons I learned from this experience:
- Double check that the receipt matches the gift card purchased. Do not leave the store if they do not match. This would have solved my problem in 30 seconds.
- Always keep your receipt and gift card packaging until the gift card is successfully activated and unloaded.
- Try not to sit on gift cards too long. The longer you hold on to them, the more time there is for something to go wrong.
- There is a really big price to pay if you screw up buying/unloading gift cards. It would take a lot of MS to make up for $500 lost, so always be careful and don’t take anything for granted even if you have done something 100+ or 1,000+ times. 1 screw up will really set you back.
- Twitter is your best friend. I have had several issues over the months and Twitter has helped solve all of them, including issues with Staples Easy Rebates, The Counter Burger, Experian Credit Monitoring Service, IHG, Chase, American Express, Citi, Discover, Marriott, and Hilton; all have been resolved by going through Twitter.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. Have a great Saturday everyone!