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Month: July 2008

It's official: New Michigan law makes gift cards last 5 years

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has signed into law a new legislation that prohibits businesses from selling gift cards or certificates that will expire less than five years after they are issued.

As reported previously, the law will take effect Nov. 1 and also provides the following protection to consumers:

  • Michigan retailers can’t alter the terms or conditions of a gift card or certificate after it’s issued.
  • Inactivity fees and other charges can’t be applied.
  • Stores can’t refuse to accept cards or certificates during sales, close-outs or liquidations.
  • Retailers can’t refuse gift cards or certificates as partial payment for items that cost more than the remaining balances on them.

Kudos to Michigan for taking such a bold step to protect consumers.


Gift Card Fraud – 6 arrested in $1 million gift card scam

Six women, who are being called by Police as “The Richmond Girls,” were arrested in Sacramento, CA for allegedly encoding stolen credit card information onto gift cards, then using them to buy more than $1 million worth of merchandise at area stores.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Investigators allege that the women purchased more than $540,000 in goods from Target and Wal-Mart alone. The women are part of an international crime ring and wired more than $120,000 to Eastern Europe, including Russia and Ukraine. Investigators believe the transfers paid for stolen credit account numbers from foreign banks. The numbers were re-encoded onto gift cards using equipment legally bought over the Internet.

One of the reasons why they were able to get away with their crime was that unlike credit cards, gift card users are not required to show ID since gift cards are considered the same as cash. And if a card was declined, instead of becoming suspicious, most clerks may incorrectly assume that the gift card value has been used up.

This is very scary. As always, it is a good idea to check your credit card statements or regularly log in online to make sure nothing unusual is going on with your account.

Free $25 & $50 Gas Cards for Stays at Select Hyatt Regency Hotels

Need a little relief on your gas bill? According to this story, select Hyatt Regency hotels and resorts across the country are offering $25 and $50 gas cards for qualified stays. The offer is valid through Labor Day and beyond. Select properties participating in this promotion include:

Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa – Santa Ana Pueblo, NM
Offering a “Gas Promotion” that includes a $25 Gift Card for two-night stays and a $50 Gift Card for three-night stays; Valid now through September 30.

Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa & Marina – Cambridge, MD
Offering a “Gas Promotion” of $25 when you book the “Chesapeake Bay Experience” package. Guests driving a hybrid vehicle will also receive an additional $50 gas card. Valid now through December 31, 2008.

Hyatt Regency McCormick Place – Chicago, IL
Offering a “Gas Saver” package, which includes a $25 gas gift certificate upon checkout. Valid now through September 6, 2008.

Hyatt Regency Dallas – Dallas, TX
Offering a “Gas ‘n Go” package which comes with a $25 gas card. As an added bonus, guests who drive a hybrid vehicle will also receive free parking. Valid now through September 1, 2008.

Orlando Couple Trades Right To Name Baby For Gas Card

If you needed further proof that the economic situation is causing hardship in America, here is one. According to this story, a Florida couple has traded the right to name their baby for a $100 gas card. According to them, since times are rough, they figured having some free gas is worth giving up the right to name their baby. The winning name so far? Dixon and Willoughby Partin, with the “and” included. Click here for more.

Free $25 gift card at Target with $299 Xbox 360 buy

Beginning on July 13th and for a limited time, Target will be offering a free $25 gift card when you buy an Xbox 360 Pro. Checkout your nearest Target store for details or be on the lookout for the Target flier in the mail.

For more free deals like this offer, click here.

Steve & Barry's files for bankruptcy – What happens to Gift Cards?

According to this story in USA Today, Steve & Barry’s, the low-price fashion retailer has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the latest merchant to succumb to the current economic downturn. The company joins home furnishings chain Linen ‘n Things, catalog retailer Lillian Vernon and specialty retailer Sharper Image in filing for bankruptcy protection this year.

The company is known for its exclusive branded lines of merchandise created with high-profile entertainers and athletes, such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Venus Williams. A statement from the company blamed their current predicament on the high costs of materials and fuel prices that have caused consumers to cut back on discretionary purchases. It plans to sell all or some of its assets to repay outstanding debt, and said it is eliminating 172 corporate and field staff positions immediately.

So, what does this mean to gift card holders?

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Why we typically spend more than the gift card value

I read an interesting article on (a site i highly recommend if you are serious about saving money) on the dilemma gift card recipients face in redeeming the “full value” of their gift cards. My personal experience has been that i always end up spending more than the gift card value. I have not really thought about why that is until i read the SavingAdvice article, which got me thinking, so i did some research on the issue.

It turns out that I am not alone. According to a survey by the Michigan Retailers Association, on average, consumers spend 20 percent more than the gift card’s value. Also, 61 percent of recipients spend more than the gift card’s value. These survey results explain why retailers have come to love gift cards. But getting back to the point I was trying to make; “why do consumers spend more than the value on gift cards?”. Is it because of our desire to spend the “full value” on the gift card? Or is it because we are willing to spend some of our own money when someone else is picking up part of the tab? I think it’s a little bit of both.

The average consumer does not like to see money go to waste, and when you have a gift card worth $50 and the item you want costs $45, you have to make a decision. Do you just get the item for $45, knowing that the $5 remaining on the gift card may never be spent? Or would you rather spend an extra $15 out of pocket and get the item worth $65 that you’ve always wanted? I find myself always choosing the latter. In cases where there is nothing else in the store that i want, i may pick up an item for say $10, which ensures that the full value of the gift card is spent, even if it means i will have to spend $5 i was not planning on, or even though that item I picked up for $10 may never get used.

What about you, Readers? Do you spend as close to the gift card value as possible or do you end up spending money you had not planned on to get the “full value” of your gift card? Please post your comments in the comments section below.

Michigan to make gift cards last 5 years

Gift card expiration is a pain. It creeps up on you when you least expect it, and takes with it the entire value of your gift card. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably know by now that i am an advocate for extending or eliminating gift card expiration (and fees, but that’s for another day).

That is why I am very excited about this story in Business Week stating that the Michigan Legislature has passed a bill requiring stores to accept gift cards and certificates for at least five years after selling them. The measure is expected to be signed by the Governor into law once the House signs off on changes. It will take effect on November 1, 2008.

If you live in Michigan and are interested in having this bill become law, now is a good time to call or email your state representative. The bills also would prohibit inactivity fees and fees related to buying a gift certificate. Bravo Michigan!!

Free $100 gift card from with Blu-ray Disc player purchase

Best Buy is offering a free gift card worth $100 when you buy a Blue-ray Disc player online at Gift card is good towards future purchases. Best Buy will ship both the player and gift card for free. Offer excludes Playstation 3 and computer Blu-ray Disc drives. Click here for details.

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