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Gift Card Alert: USPS may have lost the gift card you mailed

images.jpgThat Target gift card you plan to mail to your niece in college may never get there if the envelope containing the card is not properly sealed or sturdy. According to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), often times during the mail sorting process, gift cards are forced out of their envelopes, and onto the Post Office floor.

A Mesa, Arizona woman recently lost a $100 Best Buy gift card she mailed at a local post office. She found out when a check that was mailed with the gift card was returned to her in a postal service envelope. When she followed-up with the post office, they showed her the original envelope with a slit on the side, apparently roughed-up by the conveyor belt used in sorting the mail. And the $100 gift card? Nowhere to be found. The full amount was used up by someone a week later.

The post office explains that it is common during the sorting process for loosely sealed envelopes to come open and spew gift cards all over. If you find yourself in a similar situation, contact the post office where the gift card was mailed. You will need your gift card purchase receipt to claim your card (if the post office happens to have it). The USPS recommends using an envelope with a bubble-wrap when mailing gift cards since those are sorted on a separate system.

So, the obvious question is; if this happens often, what is the USPS policy on gift cards that fall during the sorting process but are never claimed by their owners? You will be surprised to know that If those gift cards are not claimed within 30 days, they are sent to a Postal processing center in Minnesota and destroyed. Yes, DESTROYED!!

Apparently, during the holidays, the main sorting facility in Phoenix, AZ alone fills up 2 white Postal bins with gift cards that fall from holiday cards. I am not sure what the legal implications are but it sounds very wasteful to me to destroy all these cards right after the holiday season when they can be a blessing to local charities. The postal service may be trying to avoid a sticky situation where the gift card owners may return to the merchant to have the card re-issued should they find out that the card never got to its destination. However, given that some merchants do not replace lost or stolen cards, it is certain that the USPS is destroying gift cards whose values may never be redeemed.


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  1. BA in VA

    Is this mandated by federal procedure to send the gift cards for destruction to Minnesota? Non-profits take note and tell your lobbyists to get to work on this one! Maybe a registry of these unredeemed cards would help the gifters or issuers to get some charitable contributions to their credit when this happens. I recall a ridiculous number of gift cards my late mother-in-law had stashed away & upon her death at least $700 in gift card value went to who-knows-whereville because no one was interested in figuring out what could be done with them. I consider many of the gift card issuers to be perpetuating a form of conversion which is generally illegal, but I’m sure they’ve worded their T&C to avoid this interpretation. Its a sad case of transactional robbery which well-intended gifters are falling prey out the flagoo. Turning a wrong into a right would be a nice turn of the coin on this horrid situation.

  2. GiftCardBlogger™

    BA in VA, thanks for stopping by. Great point!

  3. Mary Mikula

    This is great to know since it just happened to me. On june 19th I purchased $200.00 in gas cards, they were mailed to me on July 2nd, I received them on July 2nd. The envelope they were in was on top of two other letters in my locked mailbox. When I pulled the mail out I noticed the gas card envelope was damaged and there was a slit about size of gift card along the bottom and all gift cards were missing, i went to post office right away, although I do not know office they were sent from yet, they barely even looked at envelope and said nothing they could do. After my going there twice and calling once they finally decided to look in machine and that was 2 days ago and still have not heard back. The damage on the envelope looks man made not machine so that would point directly to postal employee and reading story above about card being used a week later also points toward postal employee since I they supposedly send them to Minn. to be destroyed in 30 days.

  4. GiftCardBlogger™

    Hi Mary, thanks for confirming what I have always suspected 🙂

  5. Mary Sneed

    More postal employees than you would guess steal from the mailstream. Usually we just force them to resign if caught, but sometimes we fire them, especially for a second offense, and sometimes, though rarely, we prosecute them. It’s actually not too hard to catch who uses a stolen gift card if the cops/postal inspectors, etc really want to expend the effort.

  6. Ed Muldoon

    My wife mailed a birthday card with a restaurant gift card in it and the recipient never received it . Now, two weeks later I get a call from my sister asking if I received her card and the two gift cards in it . I didn’t . Something seems very wrong that two incidents within such a short time would happen to the same person . I see that companies are advertising their gift cards on TV , warning ….not a good idea . Send a check .

  7. GiftCardBlogger™

    Hi Ed, it appears that your cards were stolen at the same place and the common denominator here is at your local post office.

  8. Are you honestly stupid enough to believe the PO when they told you this story? A slit in it? Loosely closed packagin? Are you seriously this blind? Your car was spent, do you know what that means? Somebody opened it and took it! This happened to me this year. We purposely wrapped a cardboard Priority Mail (don’t let those two words fool you) envelope, in packing tape to prevent the “accidental popping open from loose fastening.” There was absolutely no way this thing could have opened on it’s own. The tape was cut and then the end was crumpled and our family picture we sent was cramped back into the envelope and one of the “I’m Sorry” stickers slapped on the outside. My brother got only the picture, no gift cards. These were spent the day after Christmas. My mom just got her package from my sister, with the Christmas letter in it and no gift card. Now, remind me how stupid you are for actually thinking these things just fall out everywhere on the floor! if this were the case then it would happen with all typed of mail, not just mail that has gift cards, and it wouldn’t happened increasingly during the holidays! It’s obvious these low-life 5th ward residents hired by the postal service are the culprits and we should put these people back on the streets until they can get an education enough to get real jobs and learn how to pay for their own things.

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