Military gift cards sent without balances

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's a program that gives military families a little extra holiday cash, but we've uncovered a glitch: some of the gift cards were sent out, with no money on them!

A local father with two daughters in military families called 12 about a problem with the Sears Heroes At Home program. People across the country donate money to it. The cash is then evenly distributed through gift cards to military moms and dads.

Some cards that went out Tuesday didn't have a balance. I called Sears to get answers. According to Sears, the situation is now resolved, but some believe it shouldn't have become a problem in the first place.

The Sears Heroes At Home gift cards can be used at Sears and its affiliated stores, including Kmart. One military mom says the one she received in November worked just fine.

That one was for $50.00. We got to get Christmas decorations and ornaments for the tree," she said.

She made three disappointing trips to Kmart with a second card for $88.00 just issued Tuesday.

"We spent a lot of time picking out presents for our girls when they tried to ring us up it didn't work," she said.

Several callers tipped off Sears through its 1-800 number. A company spokesperson says the issue is isolated to a select number of cards. The Sears Facebook page was buzzing about the glitch today. One woman wrote "because of this, my kids will be short Christmas presents this year." 

"We're very very appreciative cause it's already helped out so much just kind of frustrated," said the military mom we spoke with by phone.

A Sears spokesperson says they don't know what caused the problem that it may be a technical issue but it has nothing to do with misappropriation of the donations. The company will honor all of the affected gift cards.

While this military mom doesn't rely on the cards, she admits they do come in handy.

"I always donate knowing it'll help somebody else. I hope it's just a technical glitch and money not lost. I know all the people who've donated, they want families to have help for Christmas too," she said.

Sears is still trying to get to the root of the problem. But recipients can go to any store and the cards should work now. If you're still having problems, call the Sears hotline 800-416-9501.

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