SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) — Macy’s is promising to make good on some bad gift cards that may have ended up with some California consumers. The cards were apparently sold through third-party retailers and tampered with before being purchased.

Ed Souza of Oakley discovered the problem on Wednesday when he tried to redeem two $100 Macy’s gift cards that his late mother purchased for him nearly two years ago.

After selecting a few items at the Macy’s in Antioch, Souza said he handed over one of the cards to a salesperson who told him it had a zero balance. “I knew I hadn’t used them yet,” Souza told CBS 5 ConsumerWatch. “It had been sitting in a drawer for two years.”

When Souza called Macy’s customer service to investigate, he was told one card had been used online and the other had been used at a store in Montclair Plaza in San Bernardino County. “I told her I’ve never even been to Montclair Plaza,” Souza said.

Souza is not alone. ConsumerWatch found a handful of similar complaints online from recipients of $100 Macy’s gift cards, who said their cards were depleted before they could use them.

Two years ago, Best Buy customers across California complained their gift cards turned out to be worthless at the checkout register, because criminals had redeemed themed them first.

Macy’s told CBS 5 ConsumerWatch it did have a tampering problem with some cards sold through third-party retailers several years ago, and said its possible Souza’s cards were among them. But the retailer said it’s also possible there is a new round of people tampering with the cards.

The retailer said it will make good on gifted cards that prove worthless, and that customers should call the number on the back of the card for help.

According to consumer experts, the best way to avoid problems with a gift card is to carefully inspect the packaging before purchase. If it appears that a code on the back of the card has been scratched off, it may have been tampered with.

Experts said it is also smart to keep the receipt for a gift card purchase and give it along with the card, so it can be used as proof of payment if there is a problem with redemption.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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