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Denver man loses $500 through invalid gift card

Denver man loses $500 through invalid gift card
Posted at 6:37 PM, Feb 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-22 20:37:32-05

DENVER — A Denver man who bought an Apple gift card at Walmart said the two corporate giants gave him the runaround after the card would not activate.

Earlier this month, Steven Rodke paid $500 for an Apple gift card from a Westminster Walmart. He made sure to check for signs of scammers.

"When I pulled the card, I checked it, made sure it was still sealed and that nothing looked like it was tampered with," said Rodke. "I didn't think there was going to be a problem with the card."

But when he tried to activate it at home, though, the message " cannot redeem code" popped up on his screen.

"So, I drive back to Walmart," said Rodke. "And the manager I had dealt with, she was still there, and I explained it to her and she goes, 'Oh, Apple. We don't care because it's not our problem anymore.'"

So, Rodke called Apple and was on the phone for more than an hour. He says they referred him back to Walmart, and sent him a message that stated he "must return to store for exchange or refund." But when he went back to Walmart, Rodke says, managers would not even look at the message from Apple.

"I didn't know which way to go. I didn't know who to turn to. I watch Denver7 all the time. You guys get things done," said Rodke. "And I'm not one that usually reaches out to anybody to have help, but I knew I was in a position I couldn't do anything else."

So Contact Denver7 did some digging and found the invalid code issue isn't new, with Apple's own discussions board showing multiple complaints about the same "code entered is not valid" message, and an Apple support page dedicated to the problem.

This isn't the first magically disappearing gift card money Contact Denver7 has exposed. With a slightly different twist, Jesse Dixon had $250 drained from a Visa gift card by scammers, and Contact Denver7 helped to get his money back.

"There is zero chance I would be getting reimbursed had you not reached out and lit a fire," Dixon told Contact Denver7.

Gift card fraud is a much larger problem, according to a recent AARP study, which shows 23 percent of consumers have given or received a gift card with no funds on it.

"I think in the future, there will be more protections around gift cards because it has become such an important form of currency for criminals out there," said Mark Fetterhoff with AARP Elderwatch.

In Rodke's case, however, when Contact Denver7 reach out to Walmart and Apple about the "cannot redeem code" message, no one answered our questions about whether it was criminals draining the funds or a technical problem

"There's a bigger problem there. I don't know what they can do to fix it, but something needs to change," said Rodke.

After Contact Denver7 reached out, he received a valid code from Apple for his $500 gift card.

"Finally, Apple came back and said, 'The verification code on that card is no good. We'll send you a new one,'" said Rodke. "I don't know how to say thank you, other than thank you very much for stepping in and getting this done for me. This just helped out so so much."

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