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So as you may already know, Office Max and Office Depot are once again giving away free money this week. If you buy $300 in Mastercard gift cards, you get $15 off your order instantly.  Office Max / Office Depot had a similar deal a few weeks ago (on Visa instead of Mastercard), so between those 2 weeks, I have made a “few” trips to local Cincinnati Office Max and Office Depot stores.officemax

Historical Office Max / Depot gift card policy

Back in the day, some Office Max and Office Depot (and Staples) would allow you to buy $500 gift cards with a credit card, which was a fairly lucrative way to manufacture spending for those of us that had a Chase Ink card

Soon after, variable cost Visa and Mastercards were hard coded to be cash only, closing that loophole.  Fixed value ($100 and $200) gift cards were still allowed to be purchased with a credit card, and periodically when they had free money deals like this I would make a few stops there throughout the

My experiences over the past few weeks at OM / OD

There are 3 Office Max / Depot stores in Cincinnati that are generally convenient to my typical travel patterns, and I have visited all 3 multiple times over the past few weeks.

At 2 of them, they have said that it is now “corporate policy” that if you’re buying with a credit card they have to PHONE in for credit card authorization.  One of the stores suggested that it was for any gift card purchases over $200.  I’m not entirely clear what the phone authorization provides in terms of extra fraud prevention that the chip at the POS does not, but I’m willing to be educated on it

Needless to say, this takes a LOOOOOOOONG time.  Adding to the delay is that once they see I’ve got gift cards and the cashiers KNOW it’s going to take a long time, that they just lollygag through the whole process, since they know that it’s going to take ~10 minutes anyways.  I mean, it would surprise me if there was a deliberate “slowdown” message coming down from corporate to discourage gift card purchases, but it sure feels like it!

In any case, at the 3rd store, nobody seems aware of this “corporate policy” and I’m able to buy cards with no problem at the POS (though it does require a manager authorization)

One other interesting tidbit is that I was able to buy variable load $20 – $200 (not $500) cards with a credit card when the Visa deal was ongoing.

Anyone else run into this at their local Office Max / Office Depot stores?  What’s the longest you’ve had to wait?

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