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Sunday, August 15, 2004

Use you Simon Gift Card, or loose it!


If you have a Simon Gift Card lying around the house, you'd better use it. If you don't, by the time you decide to use it, it could be worth NOTHING. Check out their Service Charges
Your gift card expires on the date printed on the front of the card. There is an administrative fee of $2.50 a month, which is waived for the first 6 months. Beginning in the seventh month after the card issue date, the administrative fee will automatically be deducted from the card balance on the first day of each month until the balance reaches $0.
If you try to use it at either Filene's or Bloomingdales, they've got to have you buy a store gift certificate first. Then you can use the store gift certificate. Weird huh? Simon says, "The Simon Gift Card can be used anywhere Visa Debit is accepted."

Easy to Use, No.
That leads you to think that it's easy to use. Well, not exactly. First of all you need to know how much is left on your card. That takes a phone call which costs 50 cents.

Point of Purchase Problems.
I think the problem is not with the Simon Gift Card itself, but with the retail point of purchase systems. They are not set up to handle these cards. these point of sale systems need to be able to query the Simon Gift Card host and determine your remaining balance, and then let you use that balance towards your total purchase price, allowing you to make up the difference with cash, check or credit card.

The systems at Filene's or Bloomingdales don't allow that.

Good for 7 years?
The Massachusetts Gift Certificate Law states:
Gift Certificates must be good for at least 7 years.
How can a gift certificate that looses $2.50 in value per month be good for 7 years, if for example it starts out worth $25. At the rate of a $2.50 administrative fee per month, after 10 months it'd be worth nothing.

UPDATE
I got a response from the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation:
Thank you for contacting us regarding your dispute. The
Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is
charged with monitoring the marketplace to promote fair and honest
competition.
Unfortunately, Simon Malls found a way to circumvent the gift
card law
. Because those particular gift cards operate in conjunction
with credit card companies, they are not covered under the law, and
therefore, can legally lose value. If you want to address this further,
I would suggest contacting the Attorney General's Office at
617-727-8400.

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