8/1/06 Letters

Gift cards have hidden costs
To the editor:
Everyone enjoys receiving store and restaurant gift certificates and cards on special occasions, and it is safe to say that the purchaser enjoys them and thus eliminating the hassle of picking out a gift, wrapping it, etc. Any way you look at it, store and restaurant gift cards are a win-win proposition, except for the fact that current Minnesota law is very anti-consumer and allows fro expiration dates and hidden service fees on these gift cards. That is why it is so disappointing that the two state representatives from our area, Rep. Karen Klinzing and Rep. Mike Charron, cast a vote last session that in effect allows expiration dates and hidden service fees to remain on these gift cards, devaluing them in the process. In other words, if you receive a gift card from a store and don't use it in time, it could expire, and that is just fine with Klinzing and Charron. On April 18, 2006, an amendment was offered to the State Government Finance Bill that would have made it unlawful for a gift certificate to be sold in Minnesota that is subject to an expiration date or service fee. When this amendment was ruled out of order and an appeal was made on the ruling, both Klinzing and Charron voted to uphold the ruling, or, in effect, to allow expiration dates and hidden fees to continue. If you receive a $50 restaurant gift certificate you should be able to use all $50 of it, no matter when you decide to cash it in, period. By way of their votes, Klinzing and Charron voted to continue unfair gift card practices that eat away at the value of these certificates. Voters in November should remember that when Klinzing and Charron had the opportunity to stick up for consumers, the simply chose not to. Money doesn't have an expiration date. Gift cards shouldn't have an expiration date. However, November 7, 2006 sounds like the perfect expiration date for Klinzing and Charron. Sincerely yours, Ronald Mazurowski
Woodbury

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