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Sunday, December 30, 2007

California Gift Card Law Goes into Effect January 1st, 2008

Did you receive a gift card for Christmas as a gift?

Do you have a lot of left over gift cards sitting around with less than $10 sitting on them?

Well, if either of the above are true, then there is good news for you starting January 1st, 2008 in the state of California! Starting the first of the year, anyone with a small amount left on a gift card -- $10 or less -- can choose to receive the remaining balance from the merchant in cash.

This is welcome to many of us who end up with numerous cards with amounts remaining in the $0-$10 range. This is unwelcome for the retailers who hope that we will come into their stores and spend more than the remaining amount. Either that, or forget about them altogether.

Hopefully, this will help out Americans who left roughly $8B (yes, that's billion) on the table in 2007 in unspent gift cards -- according to Consumer Reports. While the law currently only applies to Californians, other states may quickly follow suit.

Here is the full text of the California State law -- SB 250 -- for those who are interested:

BILL NUMBER: SB 250 CHAPTERED
BILL TEXT

CHAPTER 640
FILED WITH SECRETARY OF STATE OCTOBER 13, 2007
APPROVED BY GOVERNOR OCTOBER 13, 2007
PASSED THE SENATE SEPTEMBER 10, 2007
PASSED THE ASSEMBLY SEPTEMBER 6, 2007
AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY AUGUST 30, 2007
AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY JULY 9, 2007
AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY JUNE 21, 2007
AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY JUNE 18, 2007
AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY MAY 25, 2007
AMENDED IN SENATE APRIL 9, 2007
AMENDED IN SENATE MARCH 22, 2007

INTRODUCED BY Senator Corbett
(Coauthor: Senator Kuehl)
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Beall, Eng, Huffman, Krekorian, and
Wolk)

FEBRUARY 14, 2007

An act to amend Section 1749.5 of the Civil Code, relating to gift
certificates.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 250, Corbett. Gift certificates.
Existing law prohibits the sale of any gift certificate, as
defined, that contains an expiration date or service fee, with
specified exceptions, including, but not limited to, for a gift
certificate issued for a food product. Existing law also provides
that any gift certificate sold after January 1, 1997, is redeemable
in cash or subject to replacement with a new gift certificate.
This bill would allow any gift certificate with a cash value of
less than $10 to be redeemed in cash, as defined, for its cash value,
and would except donated gift certificates from the above-described
prohibitions. The bill would also delete the exception described
above for food product gift certificates, thereby prohibiting those
gift certificates from containing an expiration date or service fee,
unless issued for perishable food products.



THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. Section 1749.5 of the Civil Code is amended to read:
1749.5. (a) It is unlawful for any person or entity to sell a
gift certificate to a purchaser that contains any of the following:
(1) An expiration date.
(2) A service fee, including, but not limited to, a service fee
for dormancy, except as provided in subdivision (e).
(b) (1) Any gift certificate sold after January 1, 1997, is
redeemable in cash for its cash value, or subject to replacement with
a new gift certificate at no cost to the purchaser or holder.
(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), any gift certificate with a
cash value of less than ten dollars ($10) is redeemable in cash for
its cash value.
(c) A gift certificate sold without an expiration date is valid
until redeemed or replaced.
(d) This section does not apply to any of the following gift
certificates issued on or after January 1, 1998, provided the
expiration date appears in capital letters in at least 10-point font
on the front of the gift certificate:
(1) Gift certificates that are distributed by the issuer to a
consumer pursuant to an awards, loyalty, or promotional program
without any money or other thing of value being given in exchange for
the gift certificate by the consumer.
(2) Gift certificates that are donated or sold below face value at
a volume discount to employers or to nonprofit and charitable
organizations for fundraising purposes if the expiration date on
those gift certificates is not more than 30 days after the date of
sale.
(3) Gift certificates that are issued for perishable food
products.
(e) Paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) does not apply to a dormancy
fee on a gift card that meets all of the following criteria:
(1) The remaining value of the gift card is five dollars ($5) or
less each time the fee is assessed.
(2) The fee does not exceed one dollar ($1) per month.
(3) There has been no activity on the gift card for 24 consecutive
months, including, but not limited to, purchases, the adding of
value, or balance inquiries.
(4) The holder may reload or add value to the gift card.
(5) A statement is printed on the gift card in at least 10-point
font stating the amount of the fee, how often the fee will occur,
that the fee is triggered by inactivity of the gift card, and at what
point the fee will be charged. The statement may appear on the front
or back of the gift card, but shall appear in a location where it is
visible to any purchaser prior to the purchase thereof.
(f) An issuer of gift certificates may accept funds from one or
more contributors toward the purchase of a gift certificate intended
to be a gift for a recipient, provided that each contributor is
provided with a full refund of the amount that he or she paid toward
the purchase of the gift certificate upon the occurrence of all of
the following:
(1) The funds are contributed for the purpose of being redeemed by
the recipient by purchasing a gift certificate.
(2) The time in which the recipient may redeem the funds by
purchasing a gift certificate is clearly disclosed in writing to the
contributors and the recipient.
(3) The recipient does not redeem the funds within the time
described in paragraph (2).
(g) The changes made to this section by the act adding this
subdivision shall apply only to gift certificates issued on or after
January 1, 2004.
(h) For purposes of this section, "cash" includes, but is not
limited to, currency or check. If accepted by both parties, an
electronic funds transfer or an application of the balance to a
subscriber's wireless telecommunications account is permissible.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

so if I have a gift certificate worth $250 dollers, I could redeem it for cash without buying goods or services?

Anonymous said...

No it did say the amount has to be $10 or less
"This bill would allow any gift certificate with a cash value of
less than $10 to be redeemed in cash, as defined, for its cash value,
and would except donated gift certificates from the above-described
prohibitions."