Why Bloomingdale's Accidentally Gave Away $25K Gift Cards

Photo: Paul Brown/REX Shutterstock.
We've all had this dream before: Winning some sort of fashion lottery and using your windfall to spend all at one place. Except (and you know where we're going with this), it actually happened to some people who were a part of Bloomingdale's rewards program (the customers are dubbed “Loyallists”). The accidental shopping sprees were the result of a glitch in which members of the rewards program received emails with gift cards in the amounts of their “Loyallist” points accrued. Translation: 5,000 points scored customers $5K in Bloomie’s credit, instead of the $25 that those points would normally earn. The unintentional swag payoff was even steeper for some lucky Loyallist members, whose emails contained $10K or even $25K to burn on the selling floor.

One guy made use of his massive $25K first by making a couple online purchases — he hit up the store’s NYC flagship location to continue the spree, and dropped $17,000 (on Bloomie’s dime) because he was concerned his online orders might get canceled, according to BuzzFeed. His haul included a Louis Vuitton bag, diamond earrings worth $10K, and a watch that rang in at $5,000. Others weren’t so successful in splurging on the house account. The lucky $25K recipient, who spoke to BuzzFeed anonymously, was called by Bloomingdale’s the day after his shopping binge — and told to return the loot. The prize for “doing the right thing” — a $100 Bloomie’s gift card for returning the purchases — doesn’t quite compare to the inadvertent spree. Keeping the stuff would result in being booted out of the Loyallist club. No word on which route the lucky dude opted for, but we’re guessing the latter.

“A small subset of Bloomingdale’s Loyallist participants were accidentally issued rewards gift cards with amounts that were clearly incorrect,” Bloomingdale’s said in a statement. “The company caught the mistake last week and is re-issuing replacement gift cards with correct amounts. The company is in contact with its customers and has apologized to those affected.” The rep didn't disclose how many Loyallist members benefited from the glitch.

Retail faux pas that benefit a couple lucky customers and screw with a retailer have happened before — including at Macy’s, which owns Bloomingdale’s. Back in 2013, a $1,500 diamond necklace was accidentally marked down to $47, instead of $479. In April, Balenciaga unwittingly peddled bags on its website for $195 instead of the proper value of $1,900 (those orders got canceled by the brand, alas). Last March, Ralph Lauren’s employee discount code for 65% off purchases was leaked to the masses. Those shoppers got to keep most of their loot, save for super splurge-y purchases like chandeliers. Similar situations have also happened at stores like Walmart: two years ago, a website error caused a slew of items to be vastly discounted, including computer screens priced at $9 instead of $600. However, the big-box retailer didn’t honor the super-cheap buys, instead doling out $10 gift cards to peeved customers thinking they’d scored a deal of the century.

On a smaller scale, sometimes it happens with a specific item — in May, a specific pair of 7 For All Mankind jeans were accidentally priced at $25 instead of $225 on Nordstrom’s site (they were “unavailable” a couple hours later). But getting a huge gift card to blow is preferable to a paltry pair of discounted jeans — without a doubt.
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