Illinois' New Gift Card Law

Consumers in Illinois have a new gift card law coming into effect next month, says the Springfield State Journal-Register. The new law will prohibit gift cards from expiring within 5 years of being issued.

Under the new law, the recipient of a $50 gift card — for example — will be able to spend the entire $50, said the measure’s House sponsor, Democratic Rep. Jack Franks of Woodstock.

Franks had pushed the gift-card legislation for the past few years before succeeding this year with House Bill 369. It won overwhelming approval in the House and Senate and was signed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The lawmaker’s effort started when his son, now 12, tried to use a gift card and money he had saved to buy an aluminum baseball bat. The boy discovered that much of the card’s value “had eroded because he hadn’t used it within a certain amount of time,” Franks said Monday.

Darn those cute kids who save their lawn-mowing money to buy baseball bats. They’re always messing up the finest plans of enormous retailers.

New law will ease use of gift cards [State Journal-Register](Thanks, Emily!)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. The Kapil says:

    Why must it take a lobbyist, a crying son, or a spouse withholding sex for a lawmaker to do his job and serve his constituents?

  2. Curiosity says:

    It perhaps important to note that even the Illinois attorney general urges that consumers read the fine print before buying gift cards this holiday season.

    The law above doesn’t apply to cards issued before the start of next year and these cards are required to clearly display all material terms and conditions including expiration dates and fees. If an expiration date is not posted directly on the gift card, a toll-free number must be provided so the consumer can determine when the card expires.

    Moreover if they do not comply, you can complain to the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s office of IL.

    To file a complaint, consumers may visit http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov or call one of the following hotline numbers:

    Chicago: 1-800-386-5438 and 1-800-964-3013 (TTY)
    Springfield: 1-800-243-0618 and 1-877-844-5461 (TTY)
    Carbondale: 1-800-243-0607 and 1-877-675-9339 (TTY)

    [www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov]

  3. emilymarion333 says:

    Good for him….I was given a card at work and I found out the card has been sitting in the office for awhile so I found out that I had already lost some money on it…

  4. B1663R says:

    Funny story,

    i was at HMV over the weekend and the guy beside me presented a $20 gift card from 2003. HMV took it no questions asked!

    just thought I’d mention it.

  5. comopuedeser says:

    I’m confused. It seems like when you get a gift card you should spend it. Since people tend to forget to use their gift cards, I think people should start re-gifting their gift cards more (especially with this new law).

  6. ShortBus says:

    Playing devil’s advocate (because the other side of this debate is rarely mentioned):

    The reason gift cards expire is not because issuers are money grubbing bastards, it’s because it would be an accounting nightmare if they didn’t. The cards aren’t booked as income until they are actually redeemed.

    Imagine if you wrote a $50 check to each of your 10,000 closest friends. Some of them cash them right away, but a lot of them either lose it or completely forget about it. How are you ever supposed to balance your checkbook? It’s the same reason a lot of checks you get from companies (including many payroll checks) say “void after 90 days”, or whatever, on the face. Card issuers have to account for these cards somehow.

  7. @ShortBus: Yeah but they take my 50 dollars today, out of my account. Corporations aren’t allowed to collect interest per say, but even at the most basic level, if you have 50 dollars in liability because you took in 50 dollars… it’s not that hard to figure out that you need to set aside 50 dollars.

  8. Falconfire says:

    @ShortBus: Its very easy to account for them, as many like Old Navy have been for YEARS now.

    Its a bullshit argument that they try to sell people, but the fact is the only reason they deplete is because they WANT people to spend more than the giftcard. All the giftcard does is guarantee them a amount in sales, but they want people to spend more than that amount. If you make a card deplete not only did you just get their 50 bucks, but your making them spend a little more because the value of the card drop so now they are giving a extra 2, 3, 4 etc. dollars more.

    Its a accounting scam, its all it is.

  9. arcticJKL says:

    In Ca. gift certificate are exchangeable for cash. You can hand the store a $20 gift certif. and ask for the $20 cash.

    Unfortunately the law is vague on if this applies to gift cards. But at lease they can not charge you for using them or having them (until it falls below $5)

  10. InThrees says:

    It is sad that this has to be a law.

    Just about everyone is offering gift cards now, just hoping they’ll get lost or be unspent. It’s free money to the retailer / provider.

    Add in the “this gift deteriorates at $1 per month” or whatever and it’s even more heinous.

  11. novelgirl says:

    In MA, it’s LAW that gift certificates can’t expire or depreciate in value. Mass and several other states even went after Simon (a mall chain) for gift certificates that depreciated significantly over time. If Mass retailers can do it, I don’t see what’s so difficult.
    Bottom line, you paid money, they put it on a card. They should honor it

  12. Trick says:

    Gift cards are a total scam. I would rather give cash. If you can’t put any thought in to a present or have someone that is hard to buy something for, give them cash…

  13. BStu says:

    A lot of states prohibit gift cards from losing value, so most national retailers just don’t have their cards expire. Yes, its more complicated, but its hardly an insurmountable task. Anyone still holding out should get with the program already.

  14. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    Now let’s outlaw mail in rebates.
    If they want to give us a rebate, then do it at the cash register!

  15. no.no.notorious says:

    and ofcourse, no one cared until the gov’s son was some how affected

  16. trickonion says:

    As much as I hate gift cards (it’s like cash! Only it doesn’t perform the function cash functions as well as cash does!), this isn’t the governments job

    Dear people: stop buying gift cards, problem solved!

    Dilbert:
    But it shows thought!
    Yeah, defective thought

  17. Buckus says:

    I hate giving gift cards for Christmas, but am ok for birthdays and other singular celebrations where the recipient may receive multiple gift cards and/or money to buy a larger item than I would have bought them alone.

    That being said, I do hate how gift cards are nickel-and -diming the buyers AND the recipients. Many gift cards cost $1.50 to $2.00 to purchase, and then if they’re not used for a certain amount of time they go bad, like bread you left in the refrigerator too long. The worst offenders are the Visa, American Express, Mastercard, etc gift cards. With store brands it’s a crap-shoot, some are pretty generous, others are pretty tight with that stuff.

    It’s ridiculous that it takes a law for this stuff, though. Retailers should step forward and do it the right way.

  18. jeff303 says:

    @DSaddict: Just out of curiosity, how did you know it was from 2003?

  19. zundian says:

    @Curiousity:

    As I found out, all three of the IL AG numbers go to the same office, where an exasperated old lady will answer your call and take your information to send out a form letter.

  20. RandomHookup says:

    @novelgirl:

    Actually I believe Mass. law is gift certs must be valid for at least 7 years:

    Under Massachusetts law, a gift certificate or a merchant credit slip (given for returned merchandise) must be redeemable for a minimum of seven years from its date of issuance… If the expiration date is not made available by these means, the gift certificate/card is to be redeemable in perpetuity.

    From the AG web site: [www.mass.gov]

  21. novelgirl says:

    @RandomHookup: I should have double checked. I remember from my Trader Joe’s days that we were trained to tell customers that the gift certificates had no expiration date. I may be wrong, but I believe many retailers in Mass do the same.

  22. MatthewVA says:

    Speaking of the insidious, omnipresent gift cards… What’s the deal with the proliferation of gift cards for everything from iTunes to Macys at places like CVS and Giant? I understand it from a “target market” standpoint, but I am always curious how many they really sell in the non-gift season.

  23. cosby says:

    @trickonion:

    Yea I agree this should not be done by the government. Make them list the terms maybe but hell if you want something that doesn’t expire give the person cash. If you wrote a check for someone instead of a gift card it would expire.