A bill that would set new state rules for gift cards has cleared one hurdle at the statehouse, but changes may be in store for the legislation. Senator Roger Stewart, a Democrat from Preston, says they’re still looking for agreement on several issues.
"I really, truly believe we’ve got some ideas out there that will really be helpful and that we’ll reach the goal that we want really want to reach which is to really bring fairness to gift cards," Stewart says. Stewart, who is a banker, is the manager of a bill that cleared a subcommittee in the Senate this week.
"What it does it takes away any fee and any expiration date," Stewart says of the bill. "That’s the basic part of it." The state treasurer has suggested that retailers keep track of unused gift cards and once those cards expire, turn the money over to the state rather than putting it toward the bottom line of businesses.
"We’re still working on that part of it," Stewart says. "You know, that’s still an open question." Which means legislators may decide against such a move. Stewart says his constituents have told him stories.
"Obviously, there’s all those anecdotes where they find one in the dresser drawer that they didn’t use from a long time ago. I think we’ve all experienced that," Stewart says. "We know we don’t get them used on all occasions."
Some retailers reduce the value of an unused gift card over time. For example, after 90 days it’s worth $10 less. But Stewart says the bill they’re considering would end that practice as that kind of a move would be considered a "fee" and fees on gift cards would be forbidden. The bill outlining new consumer protections for gift cards is due for debate in the Senate Commerce Committee next week.