HINCKLEY TOWNSHIP, Ohio — David and Jean Porter of Hinckley issued a warning about buying gift cards this holiday season, especially gift cards purchased from a third-party store.
The Porter's said they purchased $5,000 in Best Buy gift cards from another local retail outlet and used the cards to buy appliances back on May 27.
But the Porter's said Best Buy called them days later and told them there was a problem with one of the gift cards, canceled their order, and then in June attempted to give them a refund using the old gift cards without new pin numbers.
David Porter said he tried calling Best Buy for nearly seven months to try to get valid pin numbers so they could redeem their $5,000 refund, but he said the company kept telling them to go to the store where they originally purchased the cards.
“At first it had cleared, everything was good, the order was finalized again, and we scheduled the delivery dates," Porter said “But when the order was canceled, I spent the next, almost three weeks, on the phone with them trying to sort this out. In the end, all they would do is refund the money to the gift cards I no longer had.”
“First and foremost I want our money back, we have to be reimbursed for the entire money that we spent here and we’ve been out the last seven months.”
Jean Porter said she contacted the Ohio Attorney General's Office about the issue, but in a Dec. 9 letter the Attorney General told the couple Best Buy wasn't responding to him either.
“This is Best Buy's problem, Best Buy has caused this problem, Best Buy wants to turn it into our problem and it’s not our problem,” Jean Wendland Porter said. “The level of frustration that right now I’m talking about it, my blood pressure is going up. We don’t have the appliances we ordered, we have paid them money, and they have kept the money and not delivered.”
“How does the Attorney General from a state contact a corporation and they don’t return calls?" she added.
“Only buy gift cards directly from the vendor, because as soon as you get a third party in there you are risking everything.”
News 5 contacted Best Buy headquarters about this case and the company responded immediately, vowing to resolve the problem, blaming the issue on a third-party vendor for the lost funds.
Best Buy issued the following statement:
"We’re disappointed the Porters are having this experience and want to help make it right. We’ll continue to work with the third-party that activated their gift cards to hopefully help resolve this soon."
Cleveland Better Business Bureau President Sue McConnell told News 5 consumers need to understand all gift card terms, limitations and expiration dates before buying, and she recommends if you receive a gift card, use it as soon as possible.
“We strongly recommend that you redeem them as soon as possible,” McConnell said. “Just keep in mind that companies do go out of business, we’re in some tough economic times, I would say especially if you get restaurant gift cards. “Pre-paid cards like Visa, prepaid cards, those are redeemable with a lot less restrictions.”