Hot Topic seems to have some problems with its gift card refunds!

Dear Hot Topic,

I like you. I really do. But you’re making it hard for me to ever want to shop there again.

You see, I placed an order on May 2nd. I had it shipped to the nearest store, and it was there on May 5th. Really fast! Bravo!

I went to pick it up on May 8th. They usually want to open the box just to make sure everything is okay. Good thing they did, because my poor Sailor Venus Funko POP!’s box was smashed up.

Sailor Venus Funko POP!
The figure that started it all.

Fortunately, the worker there was super helpful. He processed the return to a gift card, and then he placed a new order for me at the same price. We even had a laugh when he asked me how I was going to pay, completely forgetting that he had just processed my return and had the gift card. He never once gave the gift card to me. He put the return on it, and he used it right away on the order. So I figured I’d have a new Venus in a week or two, whenever I was in the area.

But I was surprised when the next day I got this email.

Canceled Order

Well, I know I hadn’t canceled it, so it would seem like it had gone out of stock. But that many people ordered a Venus in a half-day? I decided to look on your site, and there she was. “In stock” the page stated. I could even add it to cart.

(Ironically, right now, I can’t find her on your site normally, but if I search on Google, I can find her item page and even head to checkout. But I don’t need one now since I bought another from somewhere else.)

So I responded back at the address that was listed in the email. In short, “Um, I didn’t cancel this. And it’s still in stock online. Why?” I even asked if I could get another POP! as a replacement in case Sailor Venus really was unable to be ordered.

Well, I didn’t receive a response. I sent you another email 10 days later. Yes, Sailor Venus was still in stock.

Guess what? I still didn’t hear back!

The Waiting Game

I then asked for help on social media, but they couldn’t help me and could only provide me with your phone number. So I called, explained the situation, and was put on hold. The customer service representative said I would receive a gift card for $7.95 in the mail…but it would take one to two weeks for it to be sent out.

I was taken aback. “It could take two weeks before it’s mailed out?”

Yes, the lady confirmed.

This seemed like a long time to wait for a gift card, but I just rolled my eyes. I know it was around Memorial Day, but it shouldn’t take two weeks to put less than $8 on a gift card and mail it out. I’ve had gift card refunds from other stores before. By the way, they did it automatically.

So, you know, I waited. Like it often happens, I forgot sometimes; other times, I said to myself, “Well, just give it another day or two. I’m busy right now.” I had my eye on a couple of things at Hot Topic, and, although I was still a bit peeved, I placed another order on July 6th. I was hoping to have my gift card by then to shave a few dollars off my bill. Of course, it never came, and I was afraid I would get another cancellation email. Amazingly, it was ready for pickup two days later.  When I went to pick it up, everything was in perfect condition. (Although, why would you wrap up everything else in bubble wrap, but not the most expensive item?)

I know that things happen and mail gets lost, so I called again on July 11th. (By the way, I appreciate your having extended hours for the help desk.) I explained the situation.

“Well, it says it’s been sent out, so my advice is to wait another week or two.”

“Another week or two? How much longer do I have to wait?” I asked.

The representative then must have really looked at the dates, and he said he would send out another. This one should be there by the end of the week or beginning of next, he said.

Well, it’s been three and a half weeks now, and no gift card.

So What Happened?

Now, you may be thinking, “Well, things get lost in the mail!” Yes, it’s possible. But two gift cards?

“Did you check with your neighbors? Other people who live in your house?”

I’m the one who checks the mail. (Well, me and my dog. It’s one of my dog’s favorite parts of the day.) And considering all the piles of packages and letters delivered over the months, I find it hard to believe that my dear mail people would lose two envelopes from the same company. And before you ask, I know you have my address because you’ve sent me coupons.

I also confirmed it with both of your customer service representatives.

So I’ve called again. After nearly 25 minutes on the line, the nice agent gave me her name and ID so I can call again tomorrow to find out what happened to my gift card.

Maybe it will arrive this time. But can you blame me for suspecting one was never sent out? There’s this blurb on your site:

If you’ve used a Hot Topic gift card as payment for your order and an item has sold out-the refund will be issued to the original gift card within 11 business days.”

Most likely my $7.95 is on the gift card I never took possession of. This is why most stores send out new gift cards instead of issuing refunds to used ones. Notice that you don’t even state this information in the cancellation email. You really only mention credit cards.

What Did I Learn?

I probably should take some of the blame. I should have demanded and held on to the aforementioned blank gift card. I should have read up on the policy from the beginning. I should have called and demanded my money back on the first day instead of emailing. Even if I did choose to email (which is supposed to be a valid means of communication), I should have called once I didn’t get a response. Some people may say I should be on your case every day demanding my refund. But I try not to be one of those customers. It’s not the agent’s fault (probably).

In Conclusion…

The three month anniversary is coming up. Did you get me something? Like, say, my money? Or at least consider changing your policy to prevent other people from going through the same frustration? The wait music can cause enough headaches.