Posts Tagged ‘Credit Card Barbie’

According to this recent New York Post * article, $750 million worth of gift cards will go unused in 2014 (down from $1 billion in 2013!). And here I sit, Such-And-So’s uncle who, like many lazy shoppers, prefers to avoid the hassle of plowing through crowds of unruly people waiting in line at gift-wrap counters and wondering if Such-And-So Niece has outgrown a ** Credit Card Barbie collector’s item. Instead, like many shoppers, my solution is straight forward: “Wow, I know —  I’ll just skitter across my keyboard and email Such-And-Such Niece a thoughtful and pragmatic $50 gift certificate!” 

How cool is that?

Still, three-quarters of a billion dollars worth of unused gift cards is a helluvalot of money. Lost? Forgotten? Ignored? Accidentally tossed in the trash or a musty laundry basket alongside Barbie’s credit card-swiped lengerie? Doesn’t matter, but nonetheless problematic to retailers everywhere. This cash-to-inventory imbalance has got to drive the bean counters absolutely nuts — much crazier than even those poor IRS folks whose 1-cent refund check I refused to cash many years ago. (How much did it cost them to process and mail me a one-penny check?) 

How do retailers reconcile unclaimed gift cards? I mean, when do they suddenly decide, “Oh, well, what the hell do we care? Let’s go play a round of golf.” According to that same New York Post article, a 5-year waiting period has been imposed on actions dealing with unclaimed gift card receipts, which causes myriad other problems. For example, “Only 50% of small businesses last approximately 5 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If a business does go under, consumers (and their gift cards) may have to get in line behind a creditor who could be owed millions of dollars.”

So, listen up all you nephews and nieces — here it is five years later and your Such-And-So, Social Security/Medicare-dependent Uncle wants his $50 back!

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* Originally published by Market Watch.

** Somewhere in my Simply Tim Way Back Machine archives, I wrote a brief rant about Credit Card Barbie. I will dig it up and republish it here in the future.

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