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I have a question- if you do gift certificates, do you put an expiration date on them? And if so, for how long??
The story behind this (sorry it's long)-
I am a nailtech and partner in our salon w another girl that does hair, manis, pedis. i keep very busy doing mostly acrylics and some gel polish. We have lots of people that get gift certificates. Usually we put a 6 month expiration date on them. We have had someone call and have one that just expired and we usually go ahead and honor those, as long as it's not been too long. Had a woman call the other day and she had a gift cert. that had been purchased for her daughter's birthday (she's about 9 or 10 I think) and she said it expired in May and wanted to know if they could still use it? I consulted quickly w Candi (my coworker) and told her sorry, but it had been too long and we weren't able to accept it. I mean geeze- it's the end of July! It was for a kids pedi (which I don't do, coworker does pedis). She said ok and that was that. I kinda felt bad- but it clearly had an exp. date and she should have known she needed to use it.
Well, then I get a text from a (not real close) friend and she was upset cause she is the one that purchased the gift cert (I wasn't there I don't think- don't remember it) and was upset that they weren't gonna be able to use it. I told her I'd look into it. I can't do the pedi (I'm almost 8 months pregnant), and I know Candi doesn't feel she should have to. I'm feeling torn and a bit bullied by my friend to cave and honor it. I just don't know for sure what to do!
In my state, Massachusetts, gift certificates are good for a minimum of seven years by law. Even Groupons are good for the cash value even if the promotional value expires. So you would have to honor it here.

But why do you have an expiration date at all? What's the purpose? It sounds like it causes nothing but bad feelings and isn't the point of gift certificate (for the business) to create positive advertising and good will?
Many businesses are not aware of this national act:

To summarize:
- Prohibits retailers from setting expiration dates less than 5 years after the card is purchased.
- Prohibits retailers from charging dormancy, inactivity, and service fees unless the card has not been used for at least 12 months. If fees are charged after this period, the details of such fees must be clearly established on the card, but retailers cannot assess more than one fee per month under any circumstances.

When it comes to a promotion like Groupon (or let's say you had a promotion where if somebody purchased a gift card for a pedicure, a manicure would be included too) the PROMOTIONAL value can have an expiration date (where they could redeem both services), but the amount PAID would need to be honored for a minimum of 5 years (the pedicure).


I recently had an awkward encounter where a friendly client I hadn't seen for over a year paid me with a promotional punch card that clearly had "expired in 6 months" printed on it (it was a buy 4, get one free deal). I accepted it, because I figured, besides making the situation even more awkward, I didn't think it was worth declining her using it and letting her leave with a bad feeling.
I always honor gift certificates even beyond any expiration date printed on the certificate. It creates good will between the salon and the client or perspective client. It's not worth the hassle, bad feelings and bad reputation to not honor something like that beyond the expiration date. Not to mention the legal aspect of it all.....don't think consumers are not aware of their rights with regards to gift certificates, etc.
In Ohio...technically there is a law that GC have NO expiration date.
If it were me...I would totally honor that GC. You have a chance to gain a new client AND word spreads quickly.....considerg it was the spring that it 'expired'....and its only thte end of July...I think its the right thing to do. I didnt read all of your post but I thought you said something about your friend being the one who bought it. Thats a second reason to go ahead an take it. IF you sold it.....collected the money from it.... I would honor it.
Unless you CLEARLY state in the future that GC HAVE to be used by such and such a date. I would however make them valid for at least a year. But thats just my 2 cents.
And, I just know from experience its the right thing to do. I had a similiar episode and lost a good client from it. Do the right thing, and WOW her with her service...maybe even offer an upgrade for the mis understanding??
Ok I just re-read your post.
Being how you are pregnant, I would at least try to get that client in the door to make things right.
Give her an upgraded Shellac Manicure and explain why you cannot do the pedi at this time.

But I would definitely get that client in there dont want your reputation going downhill over a GC...that you allready got paid for.....Its just the right thing to do.
Hmmm, totally didn't know all that! I never used to put an expiration date on gift certs, as most get used and it's not an issue. When I started working w Candi she did- so I just did as she did. I'm gonna text my friend back and tell her that I can do a manicure or gel polish on the girl. I just don't feel right leaving them hanging. I already told her why I personally couldn't do the pedi and she asked about maybe another service. Thanks for all the input ladies!! I knew I'd get good advice Smile
IMO, a GC should be honored because someone PAID for that. A coupon has an expiration date and you don't pay for coupons, they're free. In TX., a GC that has an expiration date that has been reached, the unclaimed funds must be sent to a special dept. that holds those funds until claimed. I'm sure all have seen the pages of names in the newspaper that's usually printed out twice a year? That's it!
I think you made the right decision. Especially since we all know there are a lot of gift certificates that people buy and never redeem. That should more than make up for doing one that has expired.[/i]
We sell gift cards with no expiration date; we also donate approximately $3000 worth of gift cards annually to non-profits. We honor them all.
This varies from state to state. At one point someone listed a link to this info. In Tennessee, it is 2 years. I still put an expiration date on my GC (6 months) only to try to get the person to come in without waiting forever. I do still honor the GC up to 2 years. Most clients come in within a month anyway.
I think even with an expiration date, when you honor an expired GC, that only creates good will for you and your salon and could get you a regular and lasting client.