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Gift card reselling has been the primary way I have “enhanced” my credit card spending over the past couple years to earn some additional points. There are various avenues of manufactured spending, but gift card reselling through The Plastic Merchant, a popular platform, was my preferred choice. It was easy, the risk was known (or so I thought), and I could resell any amount I desired.

But are those days over?

History of my gift card reselling

I got into gift card reselling near the end of 2016. I was looking for ways to increase my spending. Raise was a hassle, and the rates weren’t good for a new seller trying to dip his toes in the water. Ditto for other reselling platforms.

When I initially heard about TPM, I was hopeful this would be a great option. I was downright excited when I was onboarded and began selling in the last quarter of 2016. Over that quarter and the following year I did over $80,000 in sales with TPM, making a few hundred dollars and a whole lot of points in the process. I’m sure others have done much, much more.

Since the beginning of 2018, my gift card reselling has been light. Deals have been more scarce, and I have even less time than I did before to engage in side “hobbies” like reselling. My sales with TPM over 2018 have been reduced to quick and easy PPDG deals on the order of less than $1,000 per month.

Unlike the previous year, communication from TPM in 2018 has been very light. Gone were the deal emails and general updates. There was a scare a few months a ago when a number of checks bounced, but Mike responded, made things right, and it seemed like everything was fine.

Now we very likely have a problem from which The Plastic Merchant will not recover.

A single note, and a lot of bounced checks

I’m not in any private groups that have discussions going on in relation to TPM, but if the comments on this recent Miles to Memories post are any indication, things are NOT going well. For approximately two weeks all checks have been bouncing. People are sitting on bad checks on the order of thousands of dollars, and TPM has been mostly radio silent regarding the issue. The only note I received (dated June 6) stated:

“Dear seller, unfortunately Mike is very sick and has had to be hospitalized. We are working on things and hope to have an update to you very soon. Sorry in advance for any issues this may have caused, and please be patient with us.”

While I do feel very bad if Mike is hospitalized, the fact that no one has been able to correct the course of the business is the past two days is unnerving. I *do* understand that personal issues can affect business intimately, and we should be understanding of that. However, leaving sellers in the dark with bad checks and no assets to fall back on is a recipe for panic. And people have certainly panicked.

Based on what I read in the comments on the M2M post linked above, I highly doubt The Plastic Merchant is going to recover from this. People are cashing out cards from purchase orders associated with the failed checks, trying their best to make themselves “whole” is the face of serious potential losses. If you’re holding a bad check, you’ll have to face your own ethical battles over this course of action.

As more people go down this road, it will worsen whatever financial crisis TPM is already in. Even if more cash is injected into the business and/or a bunch of cards are moved so that checks can be cashed, this will be a nightmare to sort out. Not to mention trust has been broken on all sides.

Conclusion

If you are stuck holding a bad check and are looking for restitution from TPM, I totally feel for you. Fortunately for myself, I was able to avoid any potential loss, as I deposited my two small checks during the last couple days before everything started bouncing. We were leaving the country for a week, and I wanted to make sure everything was in the bank. I’m *so* glad I did this. I also didn’t submit any new POs in that time. I *am* holding some Fandango cards that I now have to figure out how to unload (hopefully Raise won’t be a terrible option). But the loss will be minor compared to what others are facing.

I would NOT consider submitting any new POs to TPM. If he weathers this, I’ll be truly amazed. Even if Mike manages to right the ship, I won’t be able to sell to him again. The run is over. There is too much risk. It was a great relationship that lasted a year and a half for me. I’m sad it ended like this.


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