September 27, 2020

Bucks Blog: Hello, This Is Your Gift Card Calling

Even though new consumer protections make it harder to lose the value on a gift card, it still makes sense to use any you received this holiday season as soon as possible. Those little plastic cards take be a pain to keep track of, and (unless they’re the electronic version) take up room in your wallet.

But do you really want telephone reminders from retailers about cards that may be carrying an unused balance?

That’s the question posed by a recent post on The Consumerist, the offbeat Web site now owned by Consumer Reports.

The post relates how a GameStop shopper, Michael, got a late-night robocall from GameStop, reminding him that he had a balance on his gift card. But he didn’t recall providing his phone number to GameStop in connection with the card, which was given to him, of course, as a gift.

He speculated that he might have used his GameStop rewards card when making a purchase using the gift card. But he said he didn’t realize that doing so would link his telephone number with the card.

GameStop hasn’t responded to calls or e-mails seeking more information about its policy on contacting gift card users.

The calls it makes may be a simple courtesy. (“We want to be sure you get all of the value left on your card!”). Or the store may be betting that when you go to use the last bit of your unused balance, you’ll spend a little more.

I think there might be times when such a call would be welcome — say, if your gift card’s balance was about to expire. But an e-mail, perhaps, might feel less intrusive. My daughters received several gift cards this Christmas, and I certainly wouldn’t want to get phone calls for all of them.

Have you ever received a telephone call from a retailer, reminding you to use your gift card? Would you find such phone calls helpful or annoying?

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