Gift Certificate Law

Posted on Apr 2, 2013 in General Retail Information, OCP

If you receive a gift certificate for your birthday or the holidays, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that you do not have to use it immediately.

The gift certificate law provides additional protection for those who either buy or receive a gift certificate. The law states that any restaurant or other party involved in retail goods and services must honor its gift certificates for at least two years for gift certificates issued only in paper form, or at least five years for gift certificates issued in other forms, such as electronic cards or other mediums. If there is an expiration date, it must be listed on the gift certificate. Otherwise, the gift certificate should be honored so long as the company remains in business. Service fees, including service fees for dormancy or inactivity, are prohibited.

The law does not cover all vouchers or certificates issued by restaurants or retailers. Certificates sold at a discount, used solely for telephone services, not marketed to the general public or marketed or labeled as a gift certificate, or given as a loyalty, award, promotional gift card are not covered. The gift certificate law does not apply to cards or certificates that are redeemable solely for admission to events or venues at a particular location or group of affiliated locations (e.g. a particular concert or sporting event). It applies only to certificates for which the issuer has received payment for the full face value.