Shopper's Drug Mart — gift card fiasco
I bought hundreds of dollars worth of gift cards just before Christmas from Shoppers Drug Mart (Liberty Village, Toronto). One recipient of a Cineplex movie gift card contacted me advising that when he tried to use his card at Cineplex they told him it wasn't "activated".
Receipt in hand, I went to my local Shopper's Drug Mart (King/Yonge, Toronto) to resolve. The asisstant manager called Cineplex and after about 15 mins on the phone with them he told me to retrireve the card and call the cineplex hotline myself and give them the 16 digit code on the back of the card and they would activate it for me. He told me I could not receive help without the card so I drove 30km to the recipient's house, collected the card and called Cineplex. Cineplex confirmed that the card was not activated and told me this was not their problem, I would have to go back to Shopper's Drug Mart.
I went to another Shopper's Drug Mart (Keele/St Clair) with the card and receipt and the assistant manager told me they could not help me, it was Cineplex's fault. She told me I could try going back to the Shopper's location I bought it at if I didn't like her answer.
I called the Liberty Village Shopper's where I bought it and the assistant manager told me he could not help me and I would have to speak to a manager. He said there was no manager in that day so I left my name and phone number and he promised me I would get a call back the next day.
Two days later I still had not received a call back so I called the Liberty Village store back again and was told by the person who answered the phone that I would have to call the Shopper's customer support hotline, it was not their store's problem. I asked to speak to a manager and the manager told me that she was in on the day that I called and that I should have been transferred through!! Further, she did not get the message to call me. I would have to come into the store to resolve she told me. I told her I didn't want to keep making trips around the city in hopes of a resolution and asked if I could email scanned images of the receipt and card to her instead. She refused and when I insisted since I had already put a lot of time and effort into this, the phone suddenly disengaged.
I called the Shopper's customer service line and spoke to Justin who asked me to email him scanned images of the receipt and card to him, which I did.
Two days later I had not heard back so I called back "customer service" again and spoke to Richard who told me it was with an investigations unit who would decide whether or not I would be issued a new card. If they decided I was entitled they would mail me out a new one. I told him I was concerned that the new issue (if I got it) would not be activated and wanted some peace of mind that the card would in fact be activated when (if) it arrived. Richard didn't want to listen so he over-talked me on several occasions and I had to keep asking him to let me finish what I was saying. We got into an argument about how and who should talk. He told me that I was the only person this problem had ever happened to before. Eventually he hung up on me.
I called back and spoke to a different customer service agent who knew about the problem. She told me a 3rd party was dealing with this and they would make sure that if a replacement card was issued it would be activated. I explained that I wanted to have the 3rd party confirm with Cineplex that the card was activated and asked who the 3rd party was and whether it was the 3rd party or Shoppers who would call me. "I don't have to give you the name of the 3rd party" she told me (???!!!) and that only Shopper's had contact with the now secret 3rd party. I am not sure why the 3rd party's name is a big secret.. drug cartel? money launderer? CSIS? What are they trying to conceal? I asked if Shopper's could find a way to have the activation confirmed with Cineplex because the last thing I wanted was to get another dud card and be faced with starting this seemingly infinite process over again. In 24-48 hours I would get a call back she said. Clearly, my request for them to check the activation of the card IF they would send one to me was too big of an ask. That would have been really easy to do but it is easier to just not help so that is what they chose to do. After everything I had been through this was THE LEAST they could have done.
I am still waiting for an outcome on this disaster. Not once did anyone apologize, take responsibility or offer to manage the problem in a way that was reassuring. I was given misinformation and sent around on a lot of wild goose chases. The onus is on the customer when Shopper's makes a mistake like this but the customer is is given no tools or clear path to resolve it.
I think the whole gift card marketing money spinner at Shopper's Drug Mart has only one consideration in mind: to make a profit. Managing customer problems with their failed activation system is "not their problem". There is a sign at the Kiing/Yonge location that says that gift cards cannot be returned or exchanged. My advice is to NEVER BUY A GIFT CARD AT SHOPPERS DRUG MART unless you want to give Shopper's money for nothing AND manage an endless customer service pursuit project that will consume a lot of your time while they treat you like crap.