What to Do When a Gift Card Won't Work

by Michael on Dec 30, 2012

Image of a Gift Card

My son received a Google Play gift card for Christmas. Unfortunately, he damaged the code on the card when he tried to scratch it off.

Unable to apply the credit to his account, he came to me for help. I started by Googling the problem but was promptly greeted by “help” pages that didn’t really help.

I then did what I should have done in the first place…

I flipped the card over and checked the fine print. In doing so, I discovered a web address and a phone number for support. The web address pointed to one of the unhelpful pages that I had already visited, but the phone number was helpful.

Note: I was surprised by the existence of real-life phone support for a Google product. If you have similar problems, call them at 1-855-466-4438.

We called and were asked to send the two (visible) serial numbers on the back of the card, a photo of the back of the card showing these numbers as well as the scratched off (damaged) code, and a copy of the receipt (if available).

They actually sent an e-mail to the address attached to my son’s Google account with instructions to reply with the requested info. We did so and are now awaiting a response — hopefully it won’t take too long.

More generally, if you have a damaged gift card, I would suggest that you start by checking for contact info on the back. Not all cards have a number to call — e.g., iTunes gift cards do not — but most cards have some contact info of some sort.

Notably, Amazon gift cards don’t seem to have any contact information whatsoever. I guess their web presence is so well known that they didn’t fell it was necessary to include that info. But don’t despair… You can call them if you need to.

In the end, if you were looking for a reason to dislike gift cards, this is a good one. While they make for a convenient gift, they can be a hassle for the recipient.

Update: It took eleven days — plus a followup e-mail in between — but we just received an e-mail from the Google Play Support Team with a PIN code that will (hopefully) resolve things.

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