I buy a fair amount of Visa Gift Cards every month at Safeway. They are easily available in most stores in the SF Bay Area and allow purchase with a credit card (ID is required).
I usually buy the cards issued by MetaBank for $500 in value. The fee is $5.95. I use the cards to make sure I can satisfy high minimum purchase requirements (like for the recent AA Executive Mastercard).
I always worry about spending that much money on cards and usually religiously hold on to all my receipts until I cash out all the cards at the Walmart Money Order register.
The last time I did this, one card out of my stack would not work – I have processed 100+ cards over the years but this was the first one.
I went back to Safeway and luckily the 'District Cash Specialist' (who supervises all gift card sales in the store) was there and knew exactly what to do. They inquired about various details of my Safeway Club account and after about 30 minutes on the phone with an agent the answer was, 'Let's see'.
I called in a couple of days later and the friendly specialist told me that the gift card never worked and I would receive a refund to my credit card.
Sounds simple enough – lesson learned – keep your receipts and stay alert when spending large amounts of money on gift cards!