Businesses sell gift cards with illegal expiration dates

Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 10:14 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team found multiple businesses are selling gift cards with illegal expiration dates.

Gift cards are always a popular gift during the holiday season. Issues with supply chains and slower delivery times made the cards even more popular, according to a survey from payment service Blackhawk Network. Those cards cannot expire for at least five years, according to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office.

Some local businesses are selling gift cards with expiration dates shorter than the requirement like Nelson’s Meat Market in Northeast Cedar Rapids. The meat market gave out one certificate, which expires in about a year.

Jonathan Moore, the President of Nelson’s Meat Market in Cedar Rapids, said he is aware gift cards can’t expire for at least five years. However, he said he puts an expiration date to get people into the store and to avoid people losing the gift cards.

“We need them in here,” Moore said. “We want them in here and the sooner they come in here after they get that card. The more they’re going buy, see what we got and spend more.”

He said the store normally and will continue to honor any gift card, no matter how old. However, the Attorney General’s Office said businesses like Nelson’s Meat Market could asses an inactivity fee, which would draw off that balance, if not used in a year.

Ashlee Kieler, who is a spokeswoman for the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, said it is common for local retailers to offer good faith with gift cards. So, it does ask people to talk with the retailer before going through the complaint process.

Kirkwood College also gives out gift cards with illegal expiration dates. The community college sent TV9 a notice in December 2021 that a gift card the station bought in 2019 would expire on December 31, 2021. It did offer to reissue the amount as a check before the 31st.

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