Gift Cards: Good as Gold? Or a no go?

The big gifting dilemma – cash or a gift certificate? Deciding which one to buy depends on who you talk to.

Connecticut’s Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is urging consumers to think twice before buying gift cards.  He tells the Connecticut Post, "Whatever their legal rights are, we are urging consumers to be very wary of gift cards," citing the rough economy that has left some retailers fighting to survive.  Blumenthal did not come out against buying gift cards, but did say: "As crass as it may sound, cash is often safer and happier as a gift." 

Retailers recently going out of business have made some gift card buyers wary.  Linens-N-Things announced plans to close, and Circuit City is shutting 155 stores, including one in Orange.


You may have gotten an e-mail claiming some major retailers are closing several stores.  It comes with a warning against buying gift cards at those retailers.  The problem, according to some retailers, is that it is not true.

They are releasing strongly-worded messages for consumers that they aren’t going anywhere.  Talbots President and Chief Executive Officer, Trudy Sullivan, issued a statement on her company's Web site refuting the e-mail that has been circulating, suggesting people might want to avoid buying gift cards from more than 24 retailers this holiday season, including Talbots.  In her letter, Sullivan wrote, "there is absolutely no concern in buying a gift card from either brand this holiday season." 

Ann Taylor’s president sent out a similar message by e-mail, and J.C. Penney announced its gift cards never expire.  In fact, their company spokesperson points out the stores will be around for a long time, with plans to open 17 stores in the works.


Getting that not-so-hot sweater from an aunt or uncle may have been what gift cards were meant to avoid, but it’s not a bad alternative for undecided shoppers to consider again, as long as it’s returnable.

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