It is that time of the year when you hear a lot about gift cards and how they make such a great gift. But this year, the news surrounding gift cards has focused on retailer bankruptcies and their impact on gift card holders. Then there is the now famous misleading viral email warning consumers to stay away from gift cards issued by some major retailers, like The Home Depot and Ann Taylor due to the possibility their gift cards would become worthless should the retailers go bankrupt.
In the midst of all this misinformation and anxiety about gift cards, it is therefore timely that Manhattan Advertising & Media Law, a Manhattan Beach, CA law firm, has put together an online gift card map that provides a state-by-state summary of gift card laws. Users can click on any state to read a brief summary of that state’s gift card statutes, including what happens to gift cards during bankruptcy and state law regarding gift card fees and expirations.
The LA Times has a piece describing the map in detail. While I am excited about the state-by-state provisions on fees and expiration, I think readers will also find it interesting that only five states, California, Montana, New York, Oklahoma and Washington, have specific laws dealing with what happens to a gift card’s value when the card issuer goes bankrupt. However, as noted in the LA Times article, these State laws regarding bankruptcy and gift cards have proved ineffective in protecting gift card holders in bankruptcies. This may be why some are pushing for action at the federal level from the Federal Trade Commission.
Readers, from looking at the map, does your state have laws regarding gift card fees and expiration? If so, do they go far enough? If not, what would you like to see done? Please post your comments in the comments section below.