It’s Official… RIP: The Plastic Merchant
I’m calling it. Time of death… two weeks ago. The Plastic Merchant… is officially… dead.
is was The Plastic Merchant?
Officially, The Plastic Merchant (TPM for short) was “a private gift card buying and selling platform built for and by point, miles, and arbitrage specialists.” In short, it was a place to sell your gift cards and get paid. You could often buy gift cards at a big discount and sell them at break even or even sometimes a small profit. Manufacturing Spend HEAVEN.
So, what happened?
Everything was going great until a few months ago. There were reports of checks not clearing from their account. According to Mike, the founder of TPM, the issues were “localized and small. We’ve reached out to everyone involved and offered to pay any fees associated with our mistake.”
Hey, I can get that some times mistakes happen. He wanted to make it right, and moved on. I’m OK with that… until…
Sometime around late May/early June, people started reporting that their checks weren’t clearing. We’re not talking about $40,000 checks. We’re talking about $100 checks. People started freaking out and rightfully so. They’d expected to get paid for a service and now they’re shit outta luck.
Many started to email Mike, including myself. Here’s the first conversation between myself and Mike. While Mike didn’t respond, someone named Molly did on his behalf:
On Wednesday, June 6, 2018, 11:45:33 AM PDT, TPM Staff <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:Dear Seller,Unfortunately, Mike is very sick and has had to be hospitalized. We are working on things and hope to have an update for you very soon. Sorry in advance for any issues this may have caused, and please be patient with us.Sincerely,Molly—Thanks for the reply Molly, I’m truly sorry to hear that.Wishing him the best. I’ve always been a flag carrying member for TPM, I just want you guys to keep doing great.Hope things get back to normal soon!Jon
A couple of days went by and we didn’t hear anything. So I went into the TPM website and checked out a couple of orders I had sent in. They showed as Processed but not Paid. I even have one order that showed as Submitted but not processed. It’s as if the entire company fled the country and left everything hanging.
The last email I sent out was three days ago and I still haven’t heard back. Here’s what I wrote:
I’m a very patient person, but we need some answers here. What’s going on? Why aren’t you processing payments.
Get back to us today.
And that’s it. No response. No answer. No sign of life. So just like in those movies, I’m declaring a time of death. The Plastic Merchant is no more.
I certainly hope that Mike is OK. I hope that something happened and people will be made whole, but I wouldn’t count on it. Businesses need to have a contingency plan. If something happens to person A, person B, C, and D take over. This seems to be a case where that didn’t happen.
What should you do now?
If you have orders that have been processed and show as processed but NOT paid, I would double check the balances on those gift cards right away. Chances are they are emptied out, but you might have a balance or two still left. If the Plastic Merchant comes back to life like a Phoenix, those cards should be paid out.
You should also make sure to print all records that you have (assuming you don’t already) of orders that you have submitted and the cards associated with it. I’m sure that someone out there is a lawyer and will probably be suing him, and if you want to go down that road, you’ll want to make sure you have as much details as available. I don’t expect the website to be up for too much longer.
A quick google search of their business address shows a UPS store, so don’t think you can fly out to St Louis and go knocking down his door.