Utter Frustration at ACE Hardware

We all know that large chain stores often pretend to reward customers. If stores really wanted to reward customers they’d offer discounts off current purchases, but that almost never happens. Instead, most stores reward customers by providing coupons or gift cards valid towards future purchases. They know that the customer will be lured back into the store to spend more money. Obviously, it’s a great marketing gimmick, and I credit the stores for finding a way to lure shoppers back through their doors. Of course, I would rather visit a store that provides gift cards and coupons, to one that doesn’t provide me with any extra benefit for shopping, but some of these gimmicks tick me off.

In April my husband and I purchased a $500 hot tub cover for our rental property from ACE Hardware. Two years ago we purchased an over-sized hot tub from ACE for well over $5000. For all of these purchases ACE rewarded us with a gift card for $25. Like I said above, $25 is better than nothing, but not by much.

Today, we went back to ACE to purchase supplies for our rental property. We had $45.27 worth of goods in our cart, and only $23.47 left on our gift card, which meant we needed to pay the additional $21.80 via credit card. But… the cashier could not figure out how to enter the transaction. She tried ringing it up not once, not twice, but eight different times. Another cashier attempted to help her out by dictating orders, but that only seemed to make things worse. When the cashier rang the items she attempted to pay with the gift card, but for some reason, it completed the transaction without asking for the additional $21.80. Now I was stuck, the cashier couldn’t give me back the gift card because she had already taken the money off of it, but she couldn’t let me walk out of the store because the additional $21.80 hadn’t been charged to my credit card. I was trapped in the store, waiting, while the other cashier that was originally trying to help checked out other customers. In the mean time, I had the unfortunate task of telling all of the customers behind me that they needed to choose a different line. Eventually, I had to call my husband over to pay the remaining $21.80 in cash.

I really wish ACE had just taken $25 off the purchase of the hot tub cover when we purchased it back in April. That experience wasted 20 minutes of my life.

2 thoughts on “Utter Frustration at ACE Hardware”

  1. A gift card is usually processed as a credit or debit card. You’ll find that many EFTPOS systems don’t allow you to combine two credit card payments for the one transaction either (eg. if $30 maxes out your low interest rate card and you wanted to charge the remainder of the total onto a second card it wouldn’t work). Annoying as this is, I don’t think it’s actually related to the allocation of gift cards as a customer reward.

    The other thing to remember is that because the store will benefit from the repeat business generated by a “rewards” program that offers discounts off future purchases they will offer a higher level of benefit via a reward program than they would as a straight discount off the current purchase. Typically a reward “worth” 5% is comparable in cost to the merchant to a straight 2% discount.


  2. Enough Wealth —

    Thanks for the 5% discount comment. As for the comment about credit card transactions I’m not so certain. Just last week I used two gift cards to purchase home goods in Marshalls. But perhaps ACE Hardware works in the matter you described, because this is the second time I’ve experienced problems using gift cards there.


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