I filed a complaint with California Attorney Genl against Victorias Secret

Michelle1x

O.G.
Mar 24, 2011
1,821
775
So, I know I am not the typical VS target demographic being over 40 and all- but I do buy from them occasionally, and like to give their gift cards as gifts.

California has pretty stringent laws regarding gift cards offered by retailers in the state- basically gift cards need to be treated as cash here according to CA civil code 1749.

Anyway in May of this year I bought a VS gift card on ebay and used it to buy some things on the VS website - one of which was another gift card to give as a gift, I needed a new, nicer card to give as a gift vs the ebay purchase. Nothing wrong with this, because in CA gift cards = cash, basically.

I found out later that this ebay purchased card and transaction involving another gift card on the VS site flagged my account for fraud.

Then in Dec 2011 I tried to purchase around 8 $25 gift cards on the VS site to use as gifts. To pay for these 8 $25 gift cards, I created 8 orders that were paid with $15 from my bank debit card and $10 from another VS gift card that my company gives us as perks. I had to enter 8 orders because the VS site only takes one gift card per order, and I had 8 $10 cards I needed to use as payment.

This second activity of creating 8 orders for gift cards that used other gift cards for payment caused VS to lock my account and they (initially) threatened to keep the $80 gift card $$ that I had used as payment. This was a convoluted set of events, first their systems choked on these 8 orders thinking they were duplicates, I noticed they were all on hold and called- saying they were not duplicates so please process them, next I was referred to the fraud dept, where the teenage "CS rep" accused me of fraud, informed my that my account was flagged from earlier in the year- (YOU WERE TOLD NEVER TO DO THIS AGAIN!!! <yawn>) and that my account was locked and I had forfeited the $80 gift cards I used for payment. They also concocted a strange story that I had used the same $10 gift card for payment for all 8 orders, as if that was even possible.

So, a quick looksie on the CA.gov website easily verifies that in California, if a retailer wants to do business in California, gift cards are to be treated as cash. That means VS must allow gift cards as payment for any merchandise available on their site, just like it was cash. They were not doing that with me, they were trying to imply that my usage of gift card #1 to buy gift card #2 was some sort of fraud. So, I complained to the California attorney general on the CA.gov website- it took a few minutes, I received a nice letter reply from CA, stating they would be contacting VS (probably with the same letter)- and then, magically my $80 showed up as a check in the mail the next week.

I actually don't even care about gift cards or VS for that matter. But VS has an aggressive stance against "fraud" for all kinds of perfectly legal commerce activities that their younger consumer customers may not be aware of that are illegal. They can't "lock your account" for something that is protected by state laws, so check your state the next time they pull this kind of thing.

Cal. Civil Code §1749.5(b)
(1) Any gift certificate sold after January 1, 1997, is redeemable in cash for its cash value, or subject to replacement with a new gift certificate at no cost to the purchaser or holder.
(2)
 

CEC.LV4eva

O.G.
Jun 4, 2006
16,953
1,010
Wow, that's a big process you went through!
I'm surprised VS would flag your account and give you all this trouble.
Thanks for sharing your story!
 
Sep 27, 2007
78
0
many retailers do not allow you to buy a gift card with a gift card though. i live in california and have tried it in store and online and have been shot down. only places i can think of that allows this are starbucks, kohl's and macy's. can't think of any others at the moment.
 

limom

O.G.
Mar 24, 2009
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Kudos to you! I personally decided to boycott VS last year for their abusive practices in general.:P
 

blah956

Member
Aug 16, 2009
6,589
5
DFW
8 $10 gift cards? are you sure these weren't the promotional secret reward cards that you were using to purchase gift cards? VS has been placing holds on peoples accounts who were fraudulently using the promotional gift cards to buy physical gift cards or e-gift cards. the difference being that the promotional gift cards expire and people were converting them so they could have the full value to use on later purchases. recently on those promotional gift cards they stated in the fine print that they were not to be used on gift card purchases (a physical card or e-gift card). anyone who attempted to would forfeit the full value on the SRC (promo gift card) and would have their accounts flagged.

tbh, the only time i've seen VS convert any type of store credit (including gift cards) is when the online store mails you a paper merchandise credit. if you use it instore, they will refund any remaining amount on a gift card.
 

MichelleAntonia

<3
O.G.
Jan 17, 2007
13,855
2
East Bay, CA
Cal. Civil Code §1749.5(b)
(1) Any gift certificate sold after January 1, 1997, is redeemable in cash for its cash value, or subject to replacement with a new gift certificate at no cost to the purchaser or holder.
(2)

This being the case, you could potentially take any retailer's gift card into the store, ask for cash and they'd have to give it to you? Does this mean that many retailers' policies of gift cards being "not redeemable for cash" are illegal? Someone legal minds here help me out...
 

merekat703

Fashionista
O.G.
Mar 2, 2010
4,693
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Maine
This being the case, you could potentially take any retailer's gift card into the store, ask for cash and they'd have to give it to you? Does this mean that many retailers' policies of gift cards being "not redeemable for cash" are illegal? Someone legal minds here help me out...
Good question, I know some stores i have shopped at will give the remaining balance back in cash and some will keep it all on the card, down to the last penny. I have a Starbucks card with a .34cent balance..
 

Michelle1x

O.G.
Mar 24, 2011
1,821
775
This being the case, you could potentially take any retailer's gift card into the store, ask for cash and they'd have to give it to you? Does this mean that many retailers' policies of gift cards being "not redeemable for cash" are illegal? Someone legal minds here help me out...
So the law is only for California, but basically-
- retailers have to return any denomination on a gift card that is less than $10 to you in cash, if you request it
- store card gift cards cannot have expiration dates or redemption fees
- gift cards are to be treated as cash (this is kind of ambiguous as to what it was intended to mean- but I think it does apply to buying gift cards on ebay and whether VS can imply you did this as a some sort of fraud)

There is nothing in the CA law that they have to return any balance in cash if it is over $10- but store cards cannot expire and you cannot be charged a redemption fee or an inactivity fee... at least not in CA.

Honestly I am not some kind of pita about these sorts of practices but honestly, VS has the rudest, most abusive customer service policies of any store I shop at. Their quality is not great, and they charge a lot so why are they so lacking in the customer service dept? No idea, I think its a management issue. The store management is often rude, once I had a new girl keep my drivers license by mistake when she did a return and the mgmt didn't even apologize or offer any kind of perk of any sort when I had to return to the store the next day before I could drive to work... just stupid stuff like that happens at VS- this childish "we're going to lock your account" was the last straw.

I received a nice letter back from the CA attorney general that was a copy of my complaint to VS, which means they did send it. Not that I expect anything out of this, but it felt good to complain. :smile:
 

Michelle1x

O.G.
Mar 24, 2011
1,821
775
many retailers do not allow you to buy a gift card with a gift card though. i live in california and have tried it in store and online and have been shot down. only places i can think of that allows this are starbucks, kohl's and macy's. can't think of any others at the moment.
Nordstroms allows it.. but you may be right.

The thing is though, people are used to just using an online site and taking it at face value. I had a gift card that I bought and I wanted some bras and another gift card at VS. There was a box to enter a gift card as payment... ok, it took it... done deal right? To not even think you are doing something wrong and have some rude teenager call you and accuse you of fraud for something like this is way over the top, but typical of VS non-customer service.

I bought something on Sephora tonight and just regarding this story I happened to notice that their site does not allow buying gift cards with other gift cards, the site explicity says it and doesn't allow it- fine. Why can't VS do that? That is all that is required. To assume their customer base is going to read their "fine print" is truly lame.
 

Cait

only once you live
Dec 11, 2005
4,973
3
Good question, I know some stores i have shopped at will give the remaining balance back in cash and some will keep it all on the card, down to the last penny. I have a Starbucks card with a .34cent balance..
Beat $0.13 on a Subway card ;).

Anyways: OP, this was long but keep us posted. At the same time, buying that many giftcards might've just looked suspicious. If CC companies and bank machines will call one for a lot less, I can understand VS wondering. But they need to work on the way they're handling these things and/or these wordings. Keep following this up :smile:
 

Michelle1x

O.G.
Mar 24, 2011
1,821
775
Kudos to you! I personally decided to boycott VS last year for their abusive practices in general.:P
Exactly- they are just a bunch of rude obnoxious teenagers. Even the thought that some retailer would actually call me and threaten to "lock my account" just blows my 48 year old middle management mind. Where was the management at VS educated?