Friday, February 17, 2006

Convenient To Give

Not so convenient to receive. The reason why retailers like to sell gift certificates is because 50% of them are never redeemed. Money in the bank. Except now the banks have horned in on the action with their attendant fees and regulations. All designed to part you from your money. Extremely convenient. For them.
Bank Gift Cards Come Wrapped With Limits: "In other words, it is up to a gift-card user to know the exact balance -- down to the penny. That is not always easy, especially if has been a long time since the card was used. Some companies charge a monthly $2.50 fee on cards that have not been used for several months, so the amount may be further reduced.

Alexandra Langley, a part-time sales associate at a local clothing store, said she once had a customer who discovered these fees had eaten up 50 percent of the balance by the time he tried to use it.
The Fine Print

-If purchase is more than card amount, it may be automatically rejected. Attempts to combine with cash for leftover value may be thwarted.

-A monthly fee may be deducted from cards that haven't been used for several months.

-Restaurants may add 20 percent to the cost of a meal when they submit card for approval.

-Gas stations may preauthorize large amounts ($50-$75) before letting customers pump gas, a process that could tie up the card's funds for several days.

The card companies permit consumers to check balances online, but 'if the customer is in the store, they can't just run home and check the balance on their computer,' Langley said. Some cards offer a toll-free telephone number for balance inquiries, but that often takes too much time at checkout. Besides, there is sometimes a fee for telephone inquiries, Langley said."
Once again, banks have found a way to adhere to the time honored practice of making you do the work to get your money out of the institution you put it in for safekeeping. And one way or another they make sure you don't get all you deposited.

Just saying.

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