Saturday

Worthless Gift Cards

Everyone got a lot of gift cards at Christmas, no doubt, but some of those are already worthless and others are about to be.

The Shaper Image gift cards, for instance, aren't worth the plastic they were made with now and others could get wiped out too. There are over $1 billion in gift cards floating around at any given time and many of them are at risk of becoming worthless this year. Why?

Sharper Image filed bankruptcy and that killed their gift card responsibility. As more businesses file bankruptcy this year, more cards are at greater risk than ever before. The moral? Use it or lose it, folks.

In February Sharper Image announced that acceptance of gift cards was being suspended. Kaput. Out of luck. Worthless.

Consumers spent an estimated $26 billion on gift cards last holiday season and $24 the year before, according to the National Retail Federation.

So is there a big risk of gift cards in your pocket becoming worthless? The number of retailer bankruptcies this year is forecast to rech the highest levels in 17 years - ever since since the 1991 recession. Who says we aren't in a recession?

Some estimates are that shoppers could lose more than $75 million just from stores and restaurant closing in 2008. And that doesn't include smaller local stores and retailers and service providers. What can you do?

Be careful. Your best best is to avoid the "branded" gift cards and only buy a Mastercard or Visa or American Express gift card. Like their credit cards, they are more universal than the smaller company gift cards anyway and you've got a company behind the plastic that is much more likely to be around next year.

Burdge Law Office
www. Burdge Law .com
Helping Consumers Protect Themselves Since 1978