I received a $50.00 gift card to Kohl's Department Stores on 12/25/05. I made a purchase of $44.99 on 2/3/06 at their Hamilton, NJ location, leaving a balance on the card of $5.01. I returned to the same store on 9/13/06 and made a purchase in the amount of $29.99. When I tried to apply the balance on my gift card to this purchase, it was refused by the cashier who claimed that the bar code on the card was unreadable.
At my insistence, she called a supervisor on the phone and read the numbers under the bar code to them. The supervisor also refused my card. I was told that they had no way of ascertaining the balance due on the card, and therefore they would not honor it. Since there were now about ten very impatient customers waiting behind me in line, I paid the full cash price for my purchase and left the store.
When I arrived home, I noticed that there was a toll-free number on the back of the card for checking card balances. I called this number and entered the numbers under the barcode, and lo and behold, I was told that the card did indeed have a balance of $5.01. I wondered why the Kohl's employees were not able to ascertain this and allow me to use the card.
I then went on Kohl's website and used their "contact us" feature to e-mail them a letter explaining what happened and asking for a refund. Several weeks passed without Kohl's acknowledging receipt of this letter. I then contacted their corporate offices in Menomonee Falls, WI, again stating the problem and requesting a refund. I included copies of the card and all receipts. I thought they would send me a check and that would be the end of it. NO! Kohl's has apparently decided for some reason to take a hard line against me.
They wrote back and told me that I needed to travel back to the store and request to speak with the store manager. The store manager would issue me a replacement gift card in the amount of $5.01. I would then need to make an additional purchase in order to redeem the balance on my card. UNBELIEVABLE!!!
I wrote back to Kohl's on 11/10/06 telling them that I did not want to make any additional purchases from their store, and that I simply wanted them to send me a refund check of $5.01 to cover the amount that their employees refused to apply to my last purchase. As of this date (1/8/07) Kohl's has not mailed me a refund or responded to my second letter.
I have been left with no option other than to file a complaint with the NJ Office of the Attorney General. As of this date I have spent more than $20.00 on certified postage trying to get my $5.01 returned to me. I have also spent more than six hours of my time writing letters to Kohl's and various agencies. Kohl's obviously has no intention of returning this money to me, figuring that since it is such a small amount I will not be willing to pursue it.
I, on the other hand, have no intention of letting Kohl's pocket 10% of the amount of a gift card that someone intended as a gift to me. I imagine that the next step will be small claims court.
I recently read in the newspapers that Kohl's Department Stores posted 2006 third quarter earnings reports reflecting an increase in profits of 45%. It's really not hard to post those kinds of profits when they are stealing 10% from their customers' gift cards. It doesn't take a lot of effort to return a lousy $5.01 rightfully due to a customer when it was improperly denied by one of their employees. Their failure to do so in more than four months clearly indicates to me that this company is no more than a group of thieves defrauding their customers. I would strongly urge that shoppers steer clear of this corrupt corporation.