Shaper Image Will Accept Gift Cards Only If You Buy Something 2x The Card's Value

The Shaper Image says that it will resume redemption of gift cards, but there’s a catch.

The retailer said in a statement that it will take the cards only if the full amount is used in a single transaction and if the customer is purchasing items that are twice as much as the card’s value.

The program is voluntary, and the retailer said that they may be able to resume normal gift card redemption in the future.

“While not a complete solution, it does provide immediate satisfaction to customers on a voluntary basis,” said Robert Conway, company chief executive.

As we previously reported, when a retailer enters Chapter 11 bankruptcy gift card holders are considered unsecured creditors and are fairly low on the pecking order when it comes to getting their money.

In other Sharper Image news, the retailer is asking the courts for permission to hire an outside liquidator to conduct the closing of half of their retail stores.

“A liquidator will ensure “the most feasible, economical and efficient means of achieving the disposition of the merchandise” at its stores, Sharper Image said.

Sharper Image to redeem gift cards [BusinessWeek] (Thanks, Robin B!)
Sharper Image Asks to Hire Liquidator [Houston Chronicle]


Edit Your Comment

  1. mthrndr says:

    Ok, gonna be a grammar nazi here. “Shaper” Image? Is this like an excercise store? Har har har. I kill me.

  2. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Ugh. I used to work for them. Sold many Ionic air purifiers…what a weird store.

    Their policy for their radio controlled planes was that, since the range was limited, if a customer came back with just the remote and said the plane just flew away we’d give them a new plane.

  3. yesteryear says:

    this is so unbelievably wrong. it should be illegal – seriously. have they forgotten that real money was used to purchase those cards?

  4. BStu says:

    Ouch. I get why this is legal, but it just doesn’t seem right given that the store is still operating.

  5. thekizerman says:

    Yeah, I used to work there too. That place went downhill as soon as they started selling the “Goodies”

  6. AD8BC says:

    @BStu: Probably the store is still operating so that it may sell off it’s inventory so that it may pay their creditors (including gift card holders) a pittiance of what they owe…

  7. petrarch1604 says:

    their stuff is so overpriced as it is. I dont know how they’ve stayed in business so long.

  8. Buran says:

    Isn’t this breach of contract? This wasn’t the deal you agreed to when you bought the card.

  9. chucklebuck says:

    If I was in this boat, I’d rather use the card for 25% off at Brookstone, just to hasten the exit of these failiens.

  10. persch5 says:

    WTF MY xmas gift from my wife is null and void now because of these douche bags. I am pissed. Well maybe I can get a sympathy gift in exchange from her?

  11. VeteranMilitaryWife says:

    Yes, but if the stores are being turned over to a liquidator, all previous bets are off…aren’t they? Didn’t Compusa just go thru the same thing?

  12. azgirl says:

    I bought a fancy massage chair from them. I bet I am screwed on any service, should I need it…

  13. dweebster says:

    This is one more reason (other than sullying my wallet with piles of extra plastic) that I HATE gift cards. They ONLY benefit the retailer, though the way they play the accounting game it’s a “loss” when you actually use the card.

    They got you by the balls as soon as you’ve exchanged “real” money for this monopoly money.

  14. facted says:

    Never quite understood the fascination with the gift card…just give people a check and let them decide what store (or maybe savings account) they’d like to spend the money in. Why fuddle with the fees/hassle/exclusivity of a gift card?

  15. JustAGuy2 says:


    Yup, it’s a breach of contract, but, since the company’s in bankruptcy, there are a lot of other people with breach of contract claims, and many of those rank higher (i.e. secured creditors) than gift card holders.

  16. bigtimestuff says:

    I read about this extensively when I first heard about this and while I “understand” it, I don’t actually understand it. People spent actual real money on these things! How is this not a huge, huge deal to anyone but the people who are out the money? “Immediate satisfactions to customers on a voluntary basis”…what a load.

  17. xanax25mg says:

    this is more of a general question– why do stores hire outside liquidators to run going out of business sales? How hard is it to have the current employees put up the 20% off signs themselves?

  18. jamesdenver says:

    I like the comment from last week’s post who said

    “Take something of equal or close value, and walk out of the store leaving the gift card in its place”

  19. uricmu says:

    If you bought the gift card with a credit card, can you do a chargeback?

  20. DeepFriar says:

    With saavy business practices like these, I’m suprised they’re bankrupt

  21. DeepFriar says:

    all I know is I bought this thing back in December and I’m STILL playing the same Elderscrolls: Oblivion character.

  22. Mayor McRib says:

    It’s corporate suicide to facilitate this policy.
    The people who have the gift cards are the highest on the pecking order in getting you OUT of Bankruptcy, because they are your customer. You have now lost what little customer base you once had…good luck building that back up.

  23. Ender16 says:

    Any of you with gift cards from Discover Cashback can call and get it refunded.

    My only question now is do they actually deactivate the cards when they refund them?

  24. jtheletter says:

    @facted: I don’t understand gift cards at all either. Basically the giver is admitting that they don’t know what to get you. Yet in spite of that they have limited your choices to one or a couple of stores (or with a CC style gift card exposed you to fees). WTF? Just admit you are clueless and give me the cash, I guarantee it will go to good use! Or even better, take the person out to buy something they pick out. That’s a more personal touch to an otherwise impersonal gift.

  25. BStu says:

    @AD8BC: I get that, but they are filed a reorganization bankruptcy so their intention is to continue to be in business. Maybe Congress should consider passing a law that protects gift card holders at least in the event of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy so I store can’t pull this sort of “We’ve decide your purchase was a gift. Thanks.” act. Like I said, I get how this was legal but maybe we need to change the way the law treats gift card holders. I’m not sure treating them like creditors makes “real world” sense and this scenario exposes that.

  26. dweebster says:

    @uricmu: Pretty sure you can, check with your bank. There will be some pretty tight limits on the amount of time you have to dispute it.

  27. Blue says:

    Good to know. They just made my do not shop there list.

  28. Blue says:

    Good to know. They just made my “do not shop there” list.

  29. yesteryear says:

    @JustAGuy2: sheesh. one more reason to incporporate myself. i will be ripping people off in no time!

  30. Craig says:

    They’re going to liquidate half their stores? Cool, now I can buy one of those Ionic Breezes for only twice its actual value.

  31. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Here is a funny Sharper Image story, about one in Paramus NJ.

    This was a new store opening in a mall that already had a Sharper Image (which was much smaller). The manager used to work as an assistant manager in (I believe) the Times Square store. So he was supposed to be some real professinal, all excited to show what he could do with his own store.

    Well shortly after opening, one slow evening we had a group of guys spread out around the store speaking with every sales person. We of course didn’t realize they were all together.

    After they left the manager realized that all the digital camcorders, and other high end items, in our clear plastic display cabinets had been stolen. Apparently the key used to open those display cabinets was UNIVERSAL for all stores!

    Normally this wouldn’t matter due to the black spiral security cords attached to every item…except the manager forgot to put them on. So in a panic he took a knife and cut the cables in half (which took quite awhile) and stuck the cut bases into the display case…and of course told us all to go along with his story of people coming in and cutting everything while we didn’t notice. >_<

    I left within a few months after that, I don’t think he was there much longer either.

  32. Jabes says:

    @xanax25mg: I think part of the issue is that they would still have to pay employee salaries and operating costs for each of the stores if they tried to sell everything themselves, thus reducing the amount of money left for creditors.

  33. K-Bo says:

    @Buran: a lot of cards have tons of fine print on the back about stuff like this, just to cover the companies butt. Basically they say hey, if we go out of business it’s your problem, should have spent the card the same day it was bought.

  34. humphrmi says:

    @Buran: Look up “Bankruptcy” laws.

  35. Snarkysnake says:

    I guess what I am afraid of is that this little gambit will become a textbook strategy of wobbly retailers.It will play out like this:

    Step One: Realizing a company is doomed, execs will secure just enough financing to get through the Christmas selling season. Terms aren’t important; This is “no tomorrow” credit…

    Step Two : Promote the shit out of the gift cards around the holiday sales. Load up the incentives (free trinket w/gift card purchase etc…)

    Step Three (and the most important step of all): Hand out retention and/or “performance” awards to upper management .

    Step Four: Go chapter 11 on January 2,3,4 while the holiday glow is still flickering.

    Congratulations ! You have just turned trusting customers into unsecured creditors…

  36. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Although giving cash is a losing proposition as well…unless it’s Euros or Canadian money :)

  37. humphrmi says:

    I totally get that the situation with Sharper Image sucks, and they suck.

    But for those of you who are incredulous how this can happen, you must realize that buying a gift card is nothing more than lending the company money. And you’re not even asking for any security when you do it.

    Once you’re a lender, especially an unsecured one, bankruptcy laws put you into a specific place in line – behind most, in front of some – in the liquidation party.

    If you are uncomfortable with lending other people (or big corporations) money, or don’t understand bankruptcy laws, you simply should not buy gift cards.

  38. StevieD says:

    The bankruptcy court must authorize such transactions.

    Don’t like these terms, complain to the court.

  39. Trick says:

    Great. My parents gave me a $5,000 gift card so now I have to spend $10,000 at once?


  40. digdug says:

    @BStu: I would rather not be punished (legislation to protect gift card buyers, which costs taxpayer money and raises prices to pay for compliance) for other people’s mistakes (buying gift cards.)

  41. sgodun says:

    Buy the item. Use the gift card. Then, before leaving the store, return the item you just purchased. Check the return policy first; if they only refund cash for cash sales, then use cash. Otherwise, use a credit card. If they refuse to accept the return, whip out your cell phone and call your credit card company right on the spot and report fraud.

  42. ath0 says:

    Now is the time for me to jump on that radio controlled animatronic monkey head I have had my eye on since christmas time.

  43. Anonymous says:

    I am also pissed off , I was stupid I asked for $650 bucks in a SharperImage for Christmas 3 years ago and was saving them for a messaging chair and I never got the chance to use them I’ll never ask for
    a gift card for Christmas again . I’ll ask for a visa card with cash already fed into it .. If ShaperImage ever opens again would we be able
    to use our gift cards ??