Government Insanity (in Links)
They're reversing in another bill, aren't they?
April 7 2012 2:12 AM EDT
Oh. Good. Lord.
Why do they think that these ideas are good? Hey, let's have people spend their money out of state! That will fix the economy!
The really sad part is that at some point these clowns were elected.
April 7 2012 4:10 AM EDT
This is another "it's not how it looks" things.
In fact, it's exactly the other way around.
For starters, if you have not used a gift card for 2 years, chances are, you won't be using it at all... and depending on state, you probably could not use it even if you wanted, because the expiration date would have passed. Only a few states outright prohibit expiration dates on gift cards, and a few others place some limitations on them, but enough states just have no regulations regarding that.
In fact, that's one significant income source for gift card SELLERS, the knowledge that a good portion of gift card purchases will never be claimed, even if no expiration date is actually printed.
In PRACTICAL terms, the money from unused gift cards already reverts to somebody eventually, AND IT IS NOT THE PURCHASER OF THE GIFT CARD, NOR THE PERSON HOLDING THE CARD, but instead, either the card issuing company OR THE STATE THE ISSUER IS INCORPORATED IN.
All that the NJ law tried to do was to obligate gift card sellers to collect ZIP CODES of buyers, so that the unused money gets claimed by the NJ state as opposed to the card issuing company or the state it's incorporated in (not NJ).
So what looks like an outrage of "state stealing PEOPLE's money" is actually a misplaced outrage over a state trying to keep money paid by people in NJ within NJ, as opposed to let it go to a private company that has not rendered a service (or to the state it's incorporated in).
No, just no, no, no. This is not the way this stuff works.
My wife handles unclaimed property, which encompasses gift cards, for a corporation. She tells me about her stories of employees not claiming paychecks and so-on and so-forth, and one of the interesting bits is that you can look up on a state website for all your unclaimed property. One of the places that the majority of the unclaimed property comes from is unused gift cards. New Jersey is going after this money because it is the biggest pile of unclaimed property they can find. This is money that is on the books as spent, and after a certain amount of time, the corporation has to send that money to the state for them to hold in your name.
The fact that a state could see this money as "claimable" and just seize it is wrong! Making a different class of unclaimed property that the state can "seize" is also highly wrong. Urgh!
April 7 2012 4:18 AM EDT
It's a valid point Sickone, but there are people who will buy out of state to avoid giving that info or who will take offense and change their spending patterns out of spite.
It is bad implementation and poor PR management... and I'm betting there's more than a few people who thought that gift cards were eternal who are going to get a little grumpy and cause problems as a result.
April 7 2012 4:21 AM EDT
"N.J. Rev. Stat. ﾧ46:30B-1 et seq.
a. A stored value card for which there has been no stored value card activity for two years is presumed abandoned.
b. The proceeds of a stored value card presumed abandoned shall be the value of the card, in money, on the date the stored value card is presumed abandoned.
c. An issuer of a stored value card shall obtain the name and address of the purchaser or owner of each stored value card issued or sold and shall, at a minimum, maintain a record of the zip code of the owner or purchaser. If the issuer of a stored value card does not have the name and address of the purchaser or owner of the stored value card, the address of the owner or purchaser of the stored value card shall assume the address of the place where the stored value card was purchased or issued and shall be reported to New Jersey if the place of business where the stored value card was sold or issued is located in New Jersey.
d. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent an issuer from honoring a stored value card, the unredeemed value of which has been reported to the state treasurer pursuant to R.S.46:30B-1 et seq., and thereafter seeking reimbursement from the state treasurer pursuant to R.S.46:30B-62."
So basically, a PERSON can STILL use a card deemed as "abandoned" if the company that issued it wants to allow that to happen, and the company would be entitled to a complete refund from the state of NJ.
There is absolutely nothing damaging to the consumer, and it only TEMPORARILY seizes funds that have not really been earned by the issuing company, with a full refund in case they eventually do "earn it".
The law makes perfect sense and is quite sensible, and it's only the greed of gift card issuing companies that makes it backfire in any way on consumers.
If you want to be angry at somebody, be angry at the greedy companies that refuse to comply to these terms and simply pull out gift cards from NJ stores.
April 7 2012 4:28 AM EDT
If that was not clear, people don't HAVE to give any of that info at all, and even just the ZIP code would be sufficient.
The worst case scenario for not giving that info at all is the company has to assume all purchases made in NJ were from people in NJ.
April 7 2012 4:31 AM EDT
"New Jersey appears to be the only state trying to collect data at purchase time to help collect unused gift card balances, said Jim Burns, a Newark lawyer representing the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association.
About half the states have some type of law dealing with the collection of unclaimed property, according to data published in January by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Of those that do, few seek to recover the full amount left on a gift card rather than a portion of the balance, and most allow three or five years before making a claim.
In Texas, the name and address of the purchaser is presumed to be the state comptroller in Austin if the owner's identity is unknown, allowing that state to collect more unclaimed balances."
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