Update: Thanks for all of the reader input! It looks like this must have been a Staples POS issue that affected all stores for a short time yesterday and has since been resolved. Many readers reported success before and after.
Yesterday, we received a question in a private message from a reader at the Frequent Miler Facebook page:
We suggested that this was probably a fraud alert and that the reader contact Chase about it. That reader later wrote the following:
While somewhat concerning perhaps, on its own this did not seem out-of-the-ordinary. After all, banks randomly place fraud alerts all the time when they sense what could be a suspicious transaction. Typically, a simple phone call resolves the situation. This seemed like a mere fluke.
Or was it?
However, I noted with interest this morning a comment from another reader in our recent post about the current Staples $20 rebate on $300 or more in Visa Gift Cards.
That makes two readers who had trouble buying Visa Gift Cards at Staples using a Chase Ink credit card in the same day. If once is a fluke, maybe twice is a coincidence. Although it still seems notable when you consider that Paul was able to run the candy transaction successfully. It would seem that this isn’t a fraud alert, but rather consistent with what our Facebook friend above reported — that the failure in transmission was on Staples’ end. That wouldn’t sound good.
Further Investigation Necessary
Of course, two isolated reports is still a very small sample size. I next went through resources like the reddit churning forum, where I didn’t immediately find similar reports. However, when I went to the Doctor of Credit post about this week’s Visa Gift Card rebate at Staples, I found this comment from yesterday:
Even if we disregard once as a fluke and twice as a coincidence….three times is starting to sound like a pattern. With two readers reporting that Chase specifically said the charge wasn’t denied on the bank end and the third reader reporting that the Ink card still worked on a candy purchase (indicating that the VGC purchase was denied by Staples rather than Chase), it is beginning to look like there was either a repeated register malfunction yesterday or a change is brewing at Staples. If it is in fact a change, I would suspect it affects all credit cards, not just Ink cards.
More data points required
Three data points is still far too limited to know whether this is in fact a policy change. As this week’s Staples Visa Gift Card rebate has a one-per-household limit, I would imagine a lot of people have already completed the offer for this week. I won’t be in the vicinity of a Staples until this weekend to test it out. If you have purchased VGCs at Staples yesterday or today, please share your data points on this developing situation. Hopefully, these were isolated incidents. We appreciate your input in helping to determine that.
Bought 2 $200 Visa gift cards at my local Staples yesterday with Ink but had to swipe card since could not read chip. Cashier said that new software had been installed on their cash registers causing problems on all registers leaving one register completely inoperable.
no problem in Bozeman MT purchasing 2 $200 VISA GC.
The staples by me had major IT issues on Tuesday. If you guys bought anything else…. ahem…. you would have realized that CC processing was failing for all transactions not just for VGCs…
I had a problem Tuesday night as well. It said card declined except when I charge anything on my Chase cards I get an email immediately. If I get a fraud alert I also get a text which I have to respond to. I got nothing. So I don’t think the charge went through. I had them call a manger over and she manually typed in my credit card number and the sale went through.
On another note Wed. AM I tried to file the rebate online and it wouldn’t go through. It said “ineligible”. So I used a different computer and all it went through.
Another instance of a problem on Tuesday evening at Staples in MD. Like others, I got the “alternate payment required” message when trying to buy two $200 VGCs with my Ink Cash. The cashier immediately said that they were having problems with some cards, and she overrode the system by inserting my card in the chip reader the wrong way and then swiping the magnetic stripe.
I did notice a POS and procedural change compared to my last visit to this Staples (and other locations in DC/MD where I buy GCs). The POS was different (I wasn’t paying much attention and can’t remember what the differences were), and the cashier asked for my license and credit card and matched names. I don’t think I have ever been asked for ID at Staples when purchasing GCs.
Bought plenty of $200 VGC in the past 3 weeks from Staples. No problems buying but my rebates aren’t coming up as eligible. First time that’s ever happened.
Any other reports of that happening to people?
I got the same message for the first time on 5/23. I’m going to wait for a few days and try again.
Bought 2×200 using four different Ink cards today and two other non-Chase cards with no issues. However, the first Staples I went to said their entire system was down and wouldn’t accept either credit or debit cards.
Just bought 2x $200 with Ink Bold. The Staples’ register was slower than usual, but I didn’t have any problems.
A credit card purchase fails, and….what, it’s time to panic? Sheesh, whatever happened to HUCA. Something fails? Fine. Then relax, give it some time, and try again. Don’t run through the streets screaming. Your readers are idiots (and who’s to blame for that, eh?).
Not “a purchase” — but three. On the same day, in the same way. Nobody running through the streets screaming here — but rather asking for DPs — which helped us discover that it was a nationwide outage with Staples (though this still doesn’t explain how the reader who commented here was able to buy candy, but not Visa Gift Cards). Glad it turned out to be no big deal – sure beats the alternative.
And our readers are great. We appreciate every last one — including you. Thanks for sharing your perspective.
I was the original inquiry. Love all your input / experiences. Thank you! Whew…. Glad to hear its all shaking down quickly. Odd stand from disgruntled managers and Staples itself.
Nick, sorry, I’m with Ian on this one. Three isolated reports out of what, tens of THOUSANDS of these transactions this week? I had one go through on my card on Sunday; the spouse had one on her card last night. Another family member did one just this morning. OMG, scoop alert! There’s three of them — all good, what’s the world coming to!!!?
Seriously, fair enough to put out a post on a widely read/respected blog, as a question, but little humility/caution in order next time.
Bought two VGCs on Monday with inky and had no problems.
Got 2x and 3x sets ~13:00 EDT yesterday – no issues
My wife and I together did 4 Visa GC transactions at Staples today — each with a different Ink card — and had no problems. Ironically, as I walked out of the store, I thought to myself, “Wow, these Staples gift card promos have to be among the longest lasting deals to get free miles. I’m glad it’s pretty easy, and always works.”
I guess you never know. 🙂 But it sounds like there’s not really a problem here.
I purchased multiple gift cards last week and on two of the receipts there was no redemption number under the barcode. I usually submit the rebate online, but I’m not sure what to do if there’s no redemption number on the receipt. I figured I can mail it in, but I don’t want to waste a stamp. Has anyone else ran into this situation?
Had the same issue a couple days ago…turned out the redemption number was printed on the emailed copy of my receipt, so worth checking if you receive one. If no luck there, try the staples rebate chat feature…with the identifying info on your receipt they should be able to give you the redemption number.
Thanks for the advice Larry. Really appreciate it.
No redemption number on my receipt either (in VT). I mailed it in and crossed my fingers.
I got the same message yesterday. Tried buying 2 $200 VGC with Ink card and got the “alternative payment required” message. Sales associate said there was a computer issue and that this was happening all day. No credit cards were being accepted only cash or debit cards.
Last night in MD around closing time, 2x$200 – no problem.
Went into staples to buy Visa GC yesterday in Brooklyn and was told credit card terminals were all down, all purchases were cash only. Perhaps this was the system update they were doing??
I purchased 2x$200 VGC several times with INK this week for the offer. Was fine Sunday, but yesterday the manager said there was a problem with the POS, and he did something to override the chip reader, used the magnetic strip and it went through fine.
I bought 2 $200 visas yesterday around 8:50 PM EDT along with a few other items (total purchase under $500). No issues using Chase Ink.
Yesterday sign read “Card reader down, no credit or debit purchases can be made” or something to that effect. Today I had no problems.
Just bought 2x $400 with my Ink. No issues.
Just bought 2x $200 VGC at Staples yesterday with my Ink+. Initially, I had the same problem as described in the article, but I was told that this was an issue with their credit card network failing to approve transactions.
I ended up coming back about 5 hours later with some toner that I had to get rid of anyway and everything went through smoothly. Also received notification that my rebate is processing, so everything seems fine. I think yesterday’s issues were mainly on Staples’ end.
I got 2 with my Ink Plus in ATL, GA area with no issues yesterday (5/23).
Thanks, guys! Appreciate all of the DPs. Looks like this was a POS issue for a short time yesterday only. We appreciate all the input!
Yesterday – Richmond VA – 2×2 no problems.
Purchased on Sunday 2x$200 VGC on Ink Bold (yes it’s old) in Baltimore, MD at Staples.. no issue.
Bought 2x $200 Visa GC’s just now in Bucks County, PA. NO problems.
Sounds like a Staples POS issue…
C’mon, is it even possible Staples would be able to identify Ink cards vs other Chase cards?
Yes, in principle. Chase small business BINs. Don’t know if they vary by product, but could at least filter at that level.
Very unlikely — which is why the post says that I would suspect this would be an issue with all credit cards, not just Ink cards in the last sentence before “More data points required”. However, I suspect most folks around here are using Ink cards at Staples.
You better believe there is. The first 6 digits identify both the bank and card type. Search for BIN databases online.
Like others, I was able to use Ink on Sunday in SoCal.
Staples recently upgraded their POS terminals so might be related to that.
I bought 1×200 and 1×100 last night, no problem.
Bought 2x $200 Visa GC’s yesterday in Orange County, CA. NO problems.
No problem, and sent in for my refund..
Bought Amazon, Lowes, and HD cards,
I tried to purchase a new screen for my phone yesterday and staples denied my Ink and then my CSP. They said it was a computer issue with Visa. Hopefully fixed in my store by today!
Bought 3 x $200 Visa gift cards at Staples on Sunday, no issues. Manager needed to override purchase though with no questions.
it was a transmission problem at one store i try 3 different cards from different no go went to another staples store use ink card and went thru
I was able to type my Visa CC # in at the terminal and it worked. They said it was a company wide issue.
Yep – I got the same thing yesterday. Bought 2x$200, then another 2X$200. They said their entire debit system was down, so they had to enter the card number in manually. Didnt have any further problems.
I thought the $20 rebate promotion only works 1 per household. How do you do it more than once?
How do you guys liquidate you VGCs?
I tried to buy a money order at the post office, but was denied on both of the VGC I purchased at Staples. Was able to buy one using a different VGC purchased from another source.
Ended up just using the Staples VGC for what would otherwise be 1x spend. Not ideal but whatever.
Bought 2x $200 Visa GCs at Staples on Monday with my Ink Bold. No issues at all.
Tried purchasing visa gc’s at Staples yesterday, was told there is a worldwide merchant processing system outage at a lot of different stores, and they’re all temporarily unable to process all credit cards. I just called now and they said they’re system is back up and able to accept credit cards again.
Use old chase ink (3x) today in Massachusetts. Went through no problems but triggered fraud alert after fact (i am traveling out of state but chase is trigger happy anyhow….)
Had no problem on Sunday buying $600 three times on three different cards…. however I did notice that they had new updated credit card terminals. Hopefully just a coincidence
Spending $600 3x on 3 different credit cards? How do you justify in doing that for points? Just curious
Bought $400 last night on my Ink+ no issues
The stores in the LA area (not sure if it spread further than LA) were having computer issues yesterday. Many stores could only accept cash as a form of payment. Didn’t matter what CC you were using. The problem seemed to be rectified around 4 PM. I was in the same situation around noon, then tried again around 4 PM and didn’t have any issues.
Tried getting 2 $200 visa gift cards at a staples in OH last year and I did have the “alternate payment required” message pop up. It wasn’t INK but just a regular visa credit card. YMMV and very dependent on each individual store policy I think. Maybe in high fraud areas store managers make an executive decision to stop sale of gift cards with cc.
Me2 in Charlotte, NC yesterday.
We should catch up, I am in Charlotte too. Do we have a points and miles meetup here in Charlotte?
Not that I’m aware of but I’m in Ft. Mill and I think we should!
Email me at jason143 at gmail dot com if you are there in the Charlotte, NC area and would like to meet up regarding this. Would love to talk with more like minded people on MS and Points & Miles in general. I live near the Carowinds, so technically Fort Mill 🙂
Bought $800 yesterday…2, $400 transactions. No problem at all.
Just purchased two $200 VGCs from Staples today using Ink Cash. No issues.