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Gift Assistant provides no gift and no assistance

GiftassistantI don't know why I haven't blogged about this earlier.  I guess I was waiting for the slow wheels of justice to grind.  But the Better Business Bureau has just told me I'm SOL, so I'm resorting to complaining about it here.

Don't shop at the Gift Assistant .

Last Christmas, I decided, instead of being the usual Scrooge that I am, it would be a good idea to get all the kiddies in my family Barnes and Nobles gift certificates.  That way, the little whippersnappers would have a fighting chance to get a little learnin' in their empty lil heads.

Somehow I found my way to the Gift Assistant website. On December 10, I purchased 13 ten-dollar gift certificates from them, which I was told would take about a week for delivery. On December 22, I got a nicely worded email from an employee of the Gift Assistant telling me that the certificates would not arrive in time for Christmas, and would I like to cancel my order.  I thanked her for the information and agreed that cancelling was probably the best idea.

The matter should have ended there.  Instead, in my December credit card statement I found that the Gift Assistant had not cancelled my transaction, and that I was out $130.  And they never sent me the gift certificates. Grrrr.

Many, many emails and phone calls later, I became fed up with their empty promises of refunding me the money and I reported them to the Better Business Bureau in February.  It was my first BBB complaint, and it felt good just filing it.  I got a few responses from them that they were on the case over the past months. 

I recently got an email from BBB telling me that the Gift Assistant was "non-responsive" and that there was nothing further they could do.  They suggested I contact my Attorney General or the Internet Fraud Unit.  The BBB now lists the Gift Assistant as having an "unsatisfactory record with the Bureau" due to "unanswered complaints and a pattern of complaints concerning delivery issues." They have over 80 complaints about the company on file, the large majority unresolved.

It's nice to know that I wasn't the only one taken.  Still, it galls.

And next Christmas, all the kids are getting socks.

Update 8/23/06 5pm: The Consumerist is on the case! Thanks, Ben! Also, here's a recent story on the Gift Assistant from WKCR out of Cincinnati that doesn't make me feel any better.


UPDATE 8/6/08: The attorney General of Ohio has contacted me about filling out an affidavit in the case of The State of Ohio vs. The Gift Assistant.  Looks like something is proceeding on this. Interesting.

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