On Aug. 14 Bloomingdale’s erroneously issued gift cards instead of loyalty points to a subset of customers who all received emails announcing their amounts, some as high as $25,000.
The gaffe didn’t end with the email, however: The gift cards worked, and though they were reportedly canceled by noon that day, at least one customer successfully purchased thousands of dollars of diamonds and designer goods.
BuzzFeed News broke the story with an interview with one customer who mistakenly received a $25,000 gift card and used the credit in store to purchase $17,000 worth of goods, including a $10,000 pair of diamond earrings and a $5,000 watch.
The shopper, who chose to remain anonymous, told BuzzFeed that the retailer contacted him and told him he “needs to” return the merchandise, and that when he does, he will receive a $100 gift card. If he does not, he said, he will be banned from the loyalty program, the outlet reports.
Other customers reported their brief windfalls on social media—and reported canceled orders after trying to make use of the gift cards. In a post to the Bloomingdale’s Facebook page, a customer named Candace Jackson reported receiving a $10,000 gift card and using about $2,000 of it to order items online. She said she later received an email canceling her order. In her post, she said she expected the gift card to be honored: “Bloomingdales, you are a big company,” she posted. “You have many faithful customers. And one thing that most customers expect is that if you make a mistake, even one of this magnitude, that you will honor it. You notified me that I had received a big award. And I expected to be able to rely on valid communications that I receive from your company (this was obviously not spam or from a suspicious source). Especially when the offer is in your system and is honored by your system.”
In a statement provided to JCK, a Bloomingdale’s spokesperson said: “A small subset of Bloomingdale’s Loyallist participants were accidentally issued rewards gift cards with amounts that were clearly incorrect. The company caught the mistake last week and is reissuing replacement gift cards with correct amounts. The company is in contact with its customers and has apologized to those affected.”