Sunday, January 4, 2009

Gift Cards and Refunds

Now that the X-Mas shopping is done and the gifts opened, what happens if you want to return your gift? Or, if you received a gift card, do you know when you can get cash from the card? Here are some tips, prepared by the Consumer Protection Unit of the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office, relating to refunds/returns and gift cards:


A retail store in California does not have to accept your return of merchandise simply because you have changed your mind.

A retail store in California can set its own policy on returning merchandise. It may elect to refuse any returns once a purchase has been made, or accept returned merchandise for a store credit only.

However, if a retail store elects not to give a full refund or store credit within 7 days after purchase, it must post that written refund policy:
*on a sign at each cash register and sales counter;
*on tags associated with that merchandise;
*at each public entrance; or
*on order forms.

The policy must state:
*whether the store will give a cash refund, store credit, or exchange for the full amount of the purchase price;
*the time within which the return must be made; and
*any other conditions related to the policy.

There are exceptions under this law so be a wise shopper and ask to see the refund policy.

Gift cards and gift certificates

While gift cards and certificates make for very flexible and easy gifts, you should keep in mind the restrictions allowed under California law.

While the gift card or certificate cannot have an expiration date, the card may include a dormancy fee (a fee charged for not using the card or certificate within a certain time period); such fees are required to be printed on the front or back of the card or certificate. You also need to consider the likelihood that the store will close before you can use the card or certificate.

Finally, sellers of gift cards and certificates must redeem them only when the balance on them falls below $10.00.

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