Sheetz is a local gas station and convenience store with a make-to-order kitchen where you’re ordering from a kiosk. The food is good, though overpriced. But they offer breakfast food throughout the day and I was in the mood for a breakfast burrito and biscuit sandwich.

While I was there, I saw a thing for gift cards. Which I thought was cool because I needed to get some gift cards for Christmas for my sisters-in-law (my wife’s sisters, and my brother’s wife). So I got a couple $25 cards as well as a name-your-own-amount card, for which I was going to go with $50.

Half of the transaction was denied, though. Though it should have been $100, it came out as $50. No matter, just swipe it again for the second $50. Transaction denied. Over and over again. Cancel out the whole thing and start from scrach. $100 becomes $50 and transaction denied on the $50.

I think the problem was that with the open-ended one. Even though I was only putting on there the same amount for that one card as for the two $25 cards, I suspect that card security freaks out with open-ended or high-amount gift cards. Which would make sense, when you think about it. I mean, if you had stolen someone’s credit card, getting a high-amount gift card is a better use for that money than most. It’s practically as good as cash. A way to suddenly have access to a large amount of funds without the credit card catching up with you mid-shopping-spree. And Amazon sells just about everything.

There are two reasons, though, that this doesn’t entirely make sense. First, those cards have to be activated. If they have to be activated, it seems to me that they can deactivate it upon being notified that it was an invalid sale. Or alternately you would still be able to trace it back. Wouldn’t you? It would be on Sheetz’s records what was purchased, and Amazon’s record what card was activated by that purchase and what was purchased with that activated card. On the other hand, that sounds like headaches? But I’d think it would actually make the loss prevention more effective rather than less, in the overall, because unlike them taking the card to Best Buy and then driving home (and no one knows where “home” is), Amazon has the address they sent it to.

The second reason why my theory might not pan out is that not only did my Discover Card not work (Discover’s card security seems to be higher than most, it gets blocked on a hair-trigger) but my debit card did as well. If they have my debit card, and access to my PIN number, gift cards would be secondary to ATMs or cashbacks. Then again, ATM’s may have cameras and there are withdrawal fees. But if you can shake that particular tree, it’s not “as good as cash” that you’ve got… it’s cash.

I guess there’s a third reason: If these things pose such a credit risk, why offer them? And if you can’t use credit cards to pay for them, how do you? If I’m getting a card worth $100, I’m not likely to have $100 on me.

In the end, I just took the two $25 cards and I’ll order the other gift card online.

Category: Market

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3 Responses to Transaction Invalid Thru This Payment Method

  1. Sheetz is a local gas station and convenience store with a make-to-order kitchen where you’re ordering from a kiosk

    Or as a friend noted, Bizzaro Wawa, and as a Wawa user, he didn’t mean that in a good way…

  2. Peter says:

    Many retailers would just as soon get rid of gift cards because of all the fraudulent use. Customers like them, however, so they’re still around.

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