Gift cards are a popular gift despite the fact that many go un-redeemed. Most of the time the cards don’t get used because consumers forget about them or lose the card. Stores going out of business are another problem, and a court ruling isn’t giving consumers much hope that their gift card is worth anything when a store closes.
There are more than 17.7 million Borders gift cards that were never used and a judge decided those customers will not get a refund. There are many reasons for the decision including issues over paperwork and whether it was filed in a timely manner.
The value of the unused cards is estimated at over $210 million. That’s a lot of money that consumers invested in a defunct company. It raises questions about whether a gift card is really the best gift. It’s a debate we have every holiday season as analysts predict which stores may be defunct within six months.
I still think gift cards are a good idea if you have no others. If you get one and don’t feel you’ll use it, then sell it. There are several sites like Gift Card Granny and Plastic Jungle that allow you to sell and buy cards at a discount. As soon as you hear about a store closing or liquidating its goods, sell fast so you don’t lose your money.
If you don’t want your personal information transferred from Borders to Barnes & Noble, you need to act fast. The deadline to opt out is October 15th.
While the Federal Trade Commission is not telling consumers what to do, it did link to a letter written to the Consumer Privacy Ombudsman it wrote in September. The FTC said a review of Borders privacy policies revealed that the bookstore “clearly and expressly represented that customer information would not be rented or sold to third parties except in limited circumstances and then only with the express consent of its customers.”
In 2008, the policy changed and included langauge that suggested customer information may be transferred if the company was sold or transferred. “We view this provision as applying to business transactions that would allow Borders to continue operating as a going concern and not to the dissolution of the company and piecemeal sale of assets in bankruptcy. Even if the provision were to apply in the event of a sale or divestiture of assets through bankruptcy, Borders represented that it would ‘seek appropriate protection’ for such information,” the FTC wrote in its letter.
In the letter, the FTC says that the Borders customer information dates back to 2005.
Barnes & Noble made it clear in its email to customers that it has products it thinks will be of interest to the customer that it’s seeking consent to obtain their information. When you try to opt-out, Barnes & Noble tries to convince you to stay by telling you it offers regular discounts, the store is the nation’s book expert, and that your Borders Rewards Plus Membership is transferred into a B&N membership. I get the store has to market itself, but really? These are not very big incentives. A coupon of some sort for all customers would be a better incentive to begin spending in the other bookstore.
Again, the deadline to opt out by email is October 15th.
The sale continues at Borders, while Books-A-Million finalized plans to buy 14 Borders stores. The stores are scattered all over including the store in Canton, Ohio at The Strip.
Here’s a list of the stores that will become Books-A-Million:
Columbia Crossing – Columbia, MD
Bangor Mall – Bangor, ME
Maine Mall – South Portland, ME
The Strip – Canton, OH
Oak Point Plaza – Eau Claire, WI
Grand Traverse Crossing – Traverse City, MI
Wrangleboro Road – Mays Landing, NJ
Northridge Shopping Center – Davenport, IA
Edwardsville Crossing – Edwardsville, IL
Fort Eddy Plaza -Concord, NH
Haines Avenue – Rapid City, SD
Valley Square Center -West Lebanon, NH
Viewmont Mall – Scranton, PA
Waterford Commons – Waterford, CT
Originally, the plan was to buy 30 stores.
Borders is set to start the liquidation sale Friday, but I learned late Thursday night that they are anything but prepared.
I walked into my local Borders around 9 ET, to see a liquidation sounding man talking to a Borders employee with a clipboard. The liquidator type said he was a contractor and gave orders about details of the liquidation to the store employee. This liquidator was the only sign of a big sale starting Friday. If I wasn’t paying attention, I could have walked by the guy, because other than that conversation it was business as usual Thursday night.
The liquidator mentioned the cafe would be one of the first things to go. If you are in the market for a coffee mug or other cafe type merchandise, you may not want to wait long for that deal to get sweeter because the sale in the cafe may not last long. That is IF that type of product even goes on sale depending on who runs the cafe.
There was mention of a flash sale Friday afternoon, whatever that means. The liquidator sounding man mentioned that the “other stores” didn’t even know about it yet. I’m assuming that means the other local stores the liquidator is working with for the sale.
The liquidator type talked matter of factly rattling instruction after instruction. I couldn’t believe this conversation happened in the front of the store where everyone enters, exits, and browses books. I stood there for a few minutes and nobody noticed. Perhaps the Borders employee was too busy taking notes, and the liquidator was too busy pretending he was a robot.
It made me feel bad for the employees who are about to lose their jobs. They did nothing wrong. They’re just collecting a paycheck, and now the end date of that check is uncertain. Until that date arrives, they are reporting to a higher boss that wants them to clean out the store. So, if you attend the liquidation sale be nice to the employees. It was clear from what I witnessed they’re just taking orders.
30 Borders stores may be spared. Books-A-Million is trying to take over the lease of 30 stores, although it’s still unclear which ones.