By: Revanche

Costco Cash Cards gone horribly wrong

November 23, 2010

For a number of reasons, I decided to buy a pack of Costco cash cards almost a month ago.  I’d ordered one online once before and it was easier (way easier) than pie. Quick order, mail delivery, phone activation and off to the races.

I’d wanted to keep an eye on our gas and grocery spending differently, and they’re nice gifts as well, so I sprang for a whole stack of $50 cards for the sake of flexibility. They were delivered pretty much as expected to me within a week or so after ordering and I put them away until I needed to use them. My preference is not to activate so much money and let it lie around like cash if I don’t have to.  It’d be a colossal heartbreak if I managed to lose a Costco cash card, right?

Turns out, having them has been the worst case of heartburn.

The morning of the day we wanted to use the first one, I called in to activate the card using the automated system.  The numbers weren’t recognized. I was routed to a CSR. She couldn’t understand every other word I was saying. It might have helped if she’d bothered to listen to me when I was speaking. But never ye mind that.

She insisted that there was no such card number in the system. Wait, please hold. No, the card number isn’t the problem.  My phone number doesn’t exist.


Get this: you don’t just need your card, and the sticker on the card to phone them with. They want you to have the card, the card carrier with its secret information printed on it (which they tell you is incorrect or has already been used anyway), the phone number of the person who ordered the fragging cards in the first place (so if you were surprised or Secret Santaed, outta luck), and even to identify the color of freaking sticker with the activation number printed on it.

Why?  Why on God’s Green EARTH is all of this necessary?

After an hour on the phone with them, I gave up and left it with PiC. He tossed it into the glove compartment after being put on hold, routed to three different phone numbers, and given a very-merry-go-round as well.

We ended up having to go into the actual warehouse to ask Member Services for help, and they gave that rep the same guff to activate one card.  He was totally painfully cheerful throughout the idiotic process, up to the point where they asked him about the sticker.  Even he couldn’t fake it, then.

We have nine others. I’m seriously considering returning them and demanding my money back.

11 Responses to “Costco Cash Cards gone horribly wrong”

  1. L.A. Daze says:

    Can you return them? If so, do it! What a hassle and waste of time. They need to fix their stupid system.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wow! I absolutely would return them ASAP! Also, they have a complaints box in every Costco. I’d print that post out and stuff it into the complaint box on the way out the door.

    Also, write it up as a letter to whoever the CEO of Costco is. There’s no excuse for that.

  3. MoneyMaus says:

    Frustrating! I love Costco for almost all things…but that is annoying. I would definitely try to take them back for a refund.

  4. Sense says:

    wow, what a nightmare! these are the kinds of things that make people have heart attacks and waste so much of our lives. such a little thing…snowballed into an unnecessarily huge ordeal.

  5. Anonymous says:

    take them back to the store and ask for your money back (print out the receipt, as you ordered online right?) Costco has AWESOME return policies! I just returned my elliptical because the wiring was going out and the maker wouldn’t even talk to me about it because it was past the warranty date. Costco sent out a truck picked it up and refunded in full…i bought the dang thing 6 years ago and just wanted the electrical fixed on it. They should refund everything for you (or at least activate them while you shop) no problem!

  6. LOL! I’m one of the Anonymi — couldn’t sign in as FaM at the school.

    The more I think about it, the more amazed I am that this happened to you. A year or so ago my AMEX card’s little data strip choked up, naturally when the gas tank was empty. I discovered this at the checkout stand — had gone in to pick up a few things before getting gas on the way home from work.

    The check-out guy suggested I buy a cash card and use that to fill my gas tank. So I did, and had no problem with it.

    In fact, it was so convenient it even occurred to me to buy cash cards once a month in the amount I budget for Costco purchases. Decided against that–it’d be a disaster if you lost the thing or it got stolen. But the point is, there was NO HASSLE.

    Costco’s customer service, like its choice of merchandise, varies according to the demographic area. If I were you, I’d go to the Costco closest to the most upscale district in the City, barge up to the customer service counter, and ask to speak to the manager there. You might at least run into someone with enough clout to make this problem known to upper management.

    I’d also write a letter to their CEO, though.

  7. Byron says:

    I buy Costco cash cards all the time and I have never been asked for my phone number or any sort of information to track the cash card. Ive never bought them on-line so maybe its something they ask on-line but it seems strange that they want your phone number to trace a cash card. A phone card maybe but not a cash card. Ive even had cash cards come up un-readable before and they can still find out how much is on it and transfer it to a new cash card that works.

  8. YogiBare53 says:

    It’s three years later that the above posts. I think the problem is fixed because all they want now when you activate the cards (purchased online) is your name and membership number given when the card was ordered. While the name is on the envelope from mailing, the membership number is not.

    If purchased in the store, they’re activated when you put some money on it.

    • Ebowerss says:

      I have just recently had a similar problem with a cash card that was given to me. I’m so surprised at how this whole situation was handled by Costco, usually the customer service is so much better. My father gifted my sister and I each 3 $50 gift cards. Only one of my gift cards gave the cashier a “not activated” message. He said he couldn’t do anything about it and I would have to call the number on the back of the card. When I called the number on the back of the card they asked me for my phone number.? I provided them with both my phone number, and my fathers. I have no idea why a phone number would be linked with a cash card. I asked them to look up our accounts, or check the card numbers because several were purchased in sequence. They said they were unable to help and gave me another phone number. The rep at that number said she wasn’t sure why I had been sent there and transferred me to another department. I waited on hold for almost fifteen minutes then the rep who answered said she could not activate the card over the phone and told me to go back to the warehouse. She said she wouldn’t even know how much money was put on the card, although she said she could see that the card had been purchased in the warehouse. She wouldn’t take any of our account information, then hung up on me. I called the original number on the back of the card again to let them know what just happend, the rep was apologetic and said she would contact that department and have the card activated. That was three days ago, the card is still not activated.

  9. Same thing happens with Amazon cash cards. Won one of them at an organization’s raffle and couldn’t use it because I had to have the buyer’s e-mail and a bunch of other unknown information.
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