Ontarian buys $800 worth of gift cards that turn out to be empty

An Ontario man who runs a car business buys gift cards to show his appreciation to customers and associates, but he found that many of the cards he gave out as gifts had no value.

“I have a stack of worthless gift cards here and these are $800 and these are only the ones I know of,” said Domenic Italiano of Oakville, Ont.

Italiano had purchased the gift cards from a local Petro Canada gas station, but when he learned that many of the gift cards he had purchased had zero balances, he drove to the gas station. department to complain.

“The store manager is aware, Petro Canada is aware, but no one seems to be doing anything about it,” Italiano said.

Gift cards represent a billion dollar turnover and although the vast majority of them are given and received without any problem, there are a growing number of cases where legitimately purchased gift cards do not have no value.

Italiano said he tried for about six months to get the empty gift cards refunded without success before contacting CTV News Toronto.

“I understand that problems can arise and I understand that problems can arise, but for this to happen so often, I can only imagine how many stories like mine exist,” Italiano said.

Thieves use different ways to empty gift cards, so to avoid being scammed, you should carefully inspect gift cards and look for signs of tampering. Try to avoid buying publicly displayed gift cards and buying them behind the counter and always keep your receipts as proof of purchase in case something goes wrong.

When CTV News Toronto contacted Petro Canada, Jessica Depencier, a spokeswoman for its parent company Suncor, said in a statement, “In any reported fraudulent circumstances, we are completing an investigation. If it is determined that fraud has been committed, we will ensure that the customer receives the amount they purchased in full. We ask that anyone having a problem with a gift card contact our customer service so that we can investigate.

After CTV News Toronto contacted Petro Canada, Italianao received a refund of $800 for his empty gift cards and another $100 for his issues, which was good news for him.

“I suggest they hire a thief so they can find out where the problem is and where the loop holes are,” Italiano said.

Another problem with gift cards is that they are also the payment method of choice for thieves, so if someone contacts you by phone, text or email and asks you to make a payment using gift cards, chances are it’s a scam. .

Michael N. Clark