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Complicated gift card mess straightened out by Sears



Updated: June 1, 2012 8:08AM

Dear Fixer: I ordered an item from last fall. I canceled the order the next day after finding the item elsewhere for less money.

Interestingly, Sears contacted me by email within days stating that the item was unavailable.

I have been trying for months to get a refund for my $42.04 for the canceled order. Can you help?

Ron Parilla, Naperville

Dear Ron: The good news is we got your $43 back for the product you’d ordered: Bayer Tempo SC Ultra Pest Control. But what a long, strange trip it was.

This fix was complicated by the involvement of several different gift cards and addresses. As we understand it, you had bought the pest control product using a $200 Sears gift card that you had gotten as the result of a totally different complaint you had with a Sears Auto Center. When you ordered and then canceled the pest control stuff, apparently the money came off that gift card (and the product, Sears said, was shipped to you in care of an address in Aurora before the cancellation took hold).

Sears tried to correct this in February by mailing you a gift card for the price of the pest control product, but you are no longer at that address and are now using a post office box.

At any rate, Sears has put a stop to the AWOL gift card — anyone who finds it now, be warned that it’s no good anymore — and they’ve emailed you an electronic gift card for $43, which you told The Fixer you received.

Bad savings surprise

Dear Fixer: I have had a life insurance policy with Allstate since 1996. My intentions were to pay premiums for 15 years, then get the cash value of the policy to contribute to my son’s college funds.

Each year subsequent to receiving my policy certificate, I called to go over all the facts with their reps.

In a nutshell, at first, I was told I would be getting $250,000 upon maturation. As I got closer to the maturity date, I was told I would get the money that I put into the policy. I was quoted $14,400 in June of last year, about six months before the maturation date. However, my figures come to about $32,200. I have paid $44.70 every three months yearly for 15 years.

The check that was distributed to me is a joke — $2,269 (not cashed). I phoned Allstate, only to be told a bunch of different stories.

I was a legal document analyst back when purchased this policy, so I know how to ask questions. I’ve been bamboozled into a policy that does not pay a darn thing upon its maturity.

Dania Shelton, Country Club Hills

Dear Dania: If you heard them tell you you’d get $250,000 or even $14,400, clearly, there was a big miscommunication here, because if you were paying $44.70 three times a year, over 15 years you had paid in $2,632.

While it doesn’t seem logical that this policy would ever pay out $250,000, we were concerned that there was such a huge disparity between what you were expecting and what Allstate’s records showed. We took this to Allstate spokeswoman Shaundra Turner, and they had a company representative call you. They apologized for the misunderstanding, but reiterated that they had paid you what you were due.

We asked Turner for more details, and she said they haven’t been able to determine whether they did or did not give you bad information, though they apologize for the hassle. Here’s what she said (warning—this doesn’t really make things any clearer):

“We have a number of different life insurance and long-term planning products available to our customers, each one with a different type of pay-out . . . It’s important that consumers refer back to their policy language as that clearly and consistently spells out the pay-out, benefit and guidelines of the product. We apologize for any incorrect information Mrs. Shelton may have received.”

Absent any other documentation, it looks like you will have to go to Plan B for your son’s college money. We wish we had better news.

Thanks to contributor Mike Nolan.

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