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Month: November 2008

Gift Card Bankruptcy Protection Policy by GiftCardRescue.com

GiftCardRescue.com, a site for buying, selling and exchanging gift cards (and also publisher of this blog) has announced a bankruptcy protection policy that will cover gift cards purchased on the company’s website. GiftCardRescue.com will refund the remaining balance on a gift card if the gift card issuer files for bankruptcy and refuses to honor outstanding gift cards during the bankruptcy. All claims must be submitted within 30 days of the bankruptcy to GiftCardRescue.com’s customer service to be eligible. 

Tweeter to accept gift cards in bankruptcy till stores close

As you are probably aware, Tweeter, the electronics retailer is going out of business and closing all stores by the end of the year. As I reported earlier in this piece, the company had announced it was only going to honor outstanding gift cards for 5 days (yes, 5 days), after which gift card holders are pretty much out of luck. Well, not so fast. 

Attorney Generals from a few states, including Maryland and Connecticut decided to step in and pressure the retailer to allow more time for gift card holders to redeem their gift cards. The company has since agreed to continue to redeem gift cards until stores close. 

So, if you are still holding on to a Tweeter gift card, NOW is the time to use it or lose it. All stores are supposed to close by the end of the year. Kudos to the state Attorney Generals that stepped-up to protect consumers. This may be a model for the future to ensure that retailers, some of whom continue to sell gift cards the day before they declare bankruptcy, will not be allowed to take consumers for granted. 

Steve & Barry's going out of business – Will honor existing gift cards

Steve & Barry’s has thrown in the towel. The company will close all 173 of its remaining stores and liquidate about $250 million of merchandise. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July, 2008 hoping to reorganize its operations and stay in business. But just like with Linens ‘N Things, things did not work out as planned as the current economic downturn takes its toll on retailers. The company announced last week that it plans to liquidate the remaining stores by early 2009.

According to this story from Reuters, the bankruptcy judge has approved the company’s request to continue to redeem gift cards during the liquidation. So, if you have a Steve & Barry’s gift card, NOW is the time to use it or lose it.

Gift Card Deals for the Week – 11/23/08

Here are the top gift card deals for next week:

Brookstone – Brookstone is offering gift card holders from other retailers 15% Off if they surrender their gift cards. So, if you currently have a gift card from another retailer, with a value as low as $5 or $10, you can trade it in for a one-time, 15 percent Brookstone store discount toward a purchase of an item from Brookstone, regardless of the price of the item. Offer begins on November 24th. Certain restrictions apply. Click here for details.

Brookstone – Brookstone is also offering a free $20 gift card with a purchase of $100 or more. Offer applicable to purchases online at www.Brookstone.com or over the phone at 1-800-926-7000. You must enter promo code 20card and your email address at checkout in order to receieve the gift card. Gift card can be redeemed at any Brookstone store, online or over the phone. Offer ends on 12/22/08 and gift cards expire on 12/27/08. Click here for details.

Tacos & Co – For those in Orange County, CA, Tacos & Co, The fast-casual Mexican food chain is offering one of the best holiday gift card deals. If you buy $100 in gift cards, the chain will give you $50 in bonus gift card – for grand total of $150. The cards do not expire and can be redeemed at all Tacos & Co locations. Offer valid through Dec. 31. Click here for details.

Dick’s Sporting Goods – Dick’s Sporting Goods is offering a free $15 iTunes gift card with any The North Face purchase of $150 or more, or a free $20 Dick’s gift card with any purchase of $100 or more. Offer valid 11/28/2008 only. Click here for details.

Restoration Hardware – Restoration Hardware is offering a free $20 gift card for every $100 you spend. Offer ends 12/24/2008. Click here for details.

Walt Disney World Resort – United Airlines Vacation is offering customers who purchase a 4-night vacation package, including 4-Day Magic Your Way Tickets, to any Disney Resort Hotel their next three nights for FREE in addition to a FREE Disney Gift Card at hotel check-in valued up to $300 among other discounts. Offer valid now through December 20, 2008. Travel must occur from January 4 through April 4, 2009 and April 19 through June 27, 2009. Click here for details.

E-mail warning of gift card problems is misleading

This email is widely circulating warning consumers about buying gift cards from a number of retailers, including Ann Taylor, Macy’s and The Home Depot because these companies are on the verge of bankruptcy.

The list is misleading in many ways. First, majority of the stores listed are not going bankrupt. It is true that the current economic environment has negatively affected several retailers, forcing many of them to layoff staff and close some stores. Store closings and staff layoffs are red flags, but when there is available public information showing that stores like the Home Depot and The Gap are doing okay, it is irresponsible to put them in the same category as others that are struggling.

Second, It is true that a few retailers on the list have recently filed for bankruptcy, like Circuit City and Linens ‘N Things. However, some of the retailers on the list, like The Sharper Image and Wilson’s Leather went out of business a while ago, making this old news.

As expected, a number of local TV stations and newspapers have also picked up on this and are setting the record straight. You can read more about their coverage here, here and here.

Gift Cards and Bankruptcy Update – 11/17/2008

Folks, I felt the need to provide a quick update on major retailers that have recently filed for bankruptcy and what that means for gift card holders.

It is estimated that consumers will lose about $100 million this year on gift cards due to bankruptcies. If you are still holding on to gift cards from last Christmas or birthday, now is the time to use them or risk losing them.

Below is an updated list of recent major retailer bankruptcies and their impact on gift card holders:

Tweeter – Tweeter, the electronics store chain filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 5, 2008. The company was granted permission by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on November 10th to continue the redemption of gift cards through Saturday, Nov. 15 (yes, only 5 days to redeem gift cards). If you were unable to redeem your gift card by that date, the only option left is to file a claim with the Bankruptcy Court for the unused portion of your gift card. However, you could be waiting a long time for this and chances are, you may get pennies on the dollar, if at all.

Circuit City – Circuit City filed for bankruptcy reorganization, meaning that they plan to restructure the business and come out of bankruptcy a more efficient company. They are still accepting gift cards during the bankruptcy and are still issuing new gift cards. If you haven’t done so already, use your Circuit City gift card soon. I will also advise against buying a new Circuit City gift card at this time.

Linens ‘n Things – Linens and Things initially filed for bankruptcy reorganization in May 2008 but things did not work out as planned so the company decided on October 15th to shut its doors. They are still accepting gift cards during the liquidation so this is your last opportunity to use your Linens and Things gift card or say goodbye to it forever.

The Sharper Image, Bennigan’s and Steak & Ale Restaurants, Value City Department Store, Mervyn’s Department Store, Steve & Barry’s, Boscov’s Department Store have all declared bankruptcy this year. For more on these companies, check out the Bankruptcy & Gift Cards page.

Gift Card Deals for the Week – 11/16/08

Here are the top gift card deals for next week:

The Home Depot is offering a free Prepaid MasterCard valued up to $600 with the purchase of 2 or more select Maytag appliances. Buy 2 qualifying products and receive a $50 MasterCard; buy 3 qualifying products and receive a $100 MasterCard; buy 4 qualifying products and receive a $200 MasterCard and so on. Click here for details. Offer valid 10/9/08-11/30/08.

Circuit City has filed for bankruptcy and the competition is determined to steal customers from Circuit.  hhgregg is now accepting Circuit City gift cards. This is how it works: From November 14th-18th, Circuit City gift card holders can use their gift cards for purchases at hhgregg of up to 20% of the total purchase price. This means that you get a 20% off any purchase when you surrender your Circuit City gift card to hhgregg. Click here for more details.

Circuit City Files for Bankruptcy

Folks, as predicted in my last posting regarding Circuit City, the company is filing for bankruptcy. I hope those of you who have a Circuit City gift card have used them. If you haven’t, your widow of opportunity to use them may be short. According to this story from Bloomberg, Circuit City has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. This means that the company hopes to reorganize its operations and emerge from bankruptcy as a leaner and more efficient company.  

However, while I sincerely hope they emerge a better company, this is not a time to hope. If you have a Circuit City gift card, NOW is the time to use it.

My sense is that the company will continue to honor gift cards even during bankruptcy since they will not risk angering the very customers they badly need during this difficult time, including gift card holders. However, as seen with Linens ‘n Things, bankruptcy reorganizations don’t always go as planned, and may lead to eventual liquidation. Circuit City may survive but in today’s economy, you never know. 

Gift Card Deals for the Week – 11/6/08

Here are the top gift card deals for the week:

Wal-Mart: Buy PS3, Get $100 Gift Card
Wal-Mart is offering a free $100 gift card when you buy a 80GB PlayStation 3, which sells for $399. You can also get a $30 Gift Card when you buy a PlayStation 2, which sells for $130. You can’t beat this deal. Offer valid for Saturday, November 8th only.

L.L. Bean– $10 gift card with order of $50 or more
L.L. Bean is offering a free $10 gift card with a purchase of $50 made in-store, over the phone or online. Offer valid through December 24th, 2008.

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