Help Me Hank: Gift Certificates
There's a lot of important stuff moms like Joan pass along to their daughters - rules like:
- Careful of your fingers
- Cold water keeps potatoes from turning black
- And when there's a sale -buy a few extra of whatever it is.
In the grocery too..thereís lots to learn:
- Check prices
- Use coupons
- And when you have a gift certificate--certain items are often exempt.
"No cash back, no cigarettes, and no lottery tickets."
But when Joan was given two $25.00 gift certificates to spend at the grocery store -suddenly the rules went haywire.
When she tried to pay her $38 bill with her $50 in gift certificates, she didnít expect $12 in cash back, but she did ask the clerk for a merchandise credit.
"And he said, no we canít do that."
Do the math. Joan was losing $12 in purchase power. The store offered a suggestion.
"He said you can just go spend some more money and use up the whole certificate."
This savvy shopper was shocked.
"I thought I donít want to just go spend money to spend money."
But the store told her--use it or lose it. An angry Joan walked out--then walked back in.
"The store manager came up to the courtesy booth and explained to me there wasnít anything he could do."
So hereís what Joan was thinking: someone had paid the store $25 for each of these...but recipients were not getting their money's worth. Joan was also thinking: "Help me Hank."
This time, itís state law to the rescue. Translated from legalese, it says customers have the "right to redeem the gift certificate for goods, food, services, credit or money of at least an equal value."
Joan put it even better:
"They canít make you forfeit whatís rightfully yours."
We passed along the letter of the law to the store...and now: their gift certificate customers--like Joan--can spend what they want--and save the rest for later.
"I was able to hopefully help someone else that may not have known that a store canít say you have to use it or lose it."
The state specifically regulated the use and redemption of gift certificates--including when stores must to give you cash back.
For more information:
Mass. Gift Certificate Law