"Consumers deserve to know exactly what
they're buying and how long the offer is good. If a gift certificate
carries additional fees or will expire at some point, that should be
openly disclosed to the purchaser," the governor said.
"Gift cards have a cash equivalent, but
when stores start charging unnecessary or hidden fees, it's as if
gift cards are the gift that keep on taking," said Attorney General
Lisa Madigan, who helped draft and secure passage of the
legislation. "This legislation is critical when it comes to
protecting consumers and ensuring they have the information they
need to make decisions that won't cost them later."
Senate Bill 2901, pushed by Attorney General Lisa Madigan and
sponsored by Sen. Susan Garrett, D-Lake Bluff, and Rep. Kathy Ryg,
D-Vernon Hills, gift certificates with expiration dates will be
required to have either a printed expiration date on the gift
certificate itself, presented in clear language and in a conspicuous
location, or a toll-free number that will provide expiration date
"Retailers need to be upfront about
what they're going to charge," said Sen. Garrett. "Many consumers
are not aware of costs and penalties associated with these cards.
Hidden fees, expiration dates and dormancy charges are often
attached to gift cards without the buyer's knowledge."
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If a gift card has any service charges,
dormancy fees, account maintenance fees, cash-out fees, replacement
card fees, activation or reactivation charges, the issuer must post
written notice of the policy wherever the cards are sold. These
written notices must be issued by the state treasurer.
Gov. Blagojevich hailed the new
legislation as an exemplary compromise. "This legislation will
protect consumers from excessive fees and hidden expiration dates,
but it also allows vendors to choose the method of communication
that suits them best."
"I'm pleased that the governor is
joining me in supporting this legislation, which offers important
consumer protections for purchasers of gift cards," said Rep. Ryg.
"Gift cards are a wonderful convenience for shoppers and gift
givers, merchants and service providers. This legislation was a
cooperative effort between the attorney general, treasurer, Illinois
Public Interest Research Group and the Illinois Retail Merchants
Association. It's exciting that our work together resulted in a good
law for the shoppers and businesses of our state."
legislation is effective immediately.
[News release from the