The holiday shopping season may have come and gone, but for Linda Oberg, the headaches are just beginning.
That’s because the Itasca woman did what millions of Americans do: bought gift cards for friends and family. Oberg made three trips to her neighborhood Target Store where she says she spent $700 on eleven Target Visa gift cards.
“That way people could get what they really wanted for Christmas,” Oberg said.
What was meant to be a thoughtful gift backfired, she says, starting with a call from her oldest son.
“He calls me and obviously there’s people behind him in line,” Oberg recalled. “I mean you’re at the checkout line, you think you’re good to go then all of a sudden you’re told the card’s no good.”
Another call: this time, her daughter.
“She had $250 worth of gift cards, and $200 worth of them were not good.”
That’s when Oberg says her heart sank, realizing that she had purchased the same cards for her co-workers and her two best friends.
“So, Merry Christmas! Uh-- maybe not so much. This was handwritten by my girlfriend—‘not activated’.”
Turned out that half of the cards she bought—five of the eleven—were duds, leaving Oberg’s friends and family with $350 of worthless plastic.
NBC5 Investigates covered similar headlines from Target last year, shortly after the massive data breach broke: thousands of customers nationwide reporting gift cards that were paid for but not activated. At the time, the retailer said less than one-tenth of one percent of gift cards sold were affected. Published reports pegged the number around 40,000.
One year later, Linda Oberg says she’s spent hours in the customer service line, on the phone, making copies and sending proof of her purchase—all to no avail.
“This has been going on with Target for over a year and by now I think corporate management should have figured this problem out so it doesn’t keep happening.”
Is Oberg’s case a repeat of the 2013 problem, or just an isolated case? A Target spokesperson did not answer that question, but did say as soon as the company became aware of this case all money was reimbursed to Linda Oberg.