Gift card purchase tips

By Diane Walker - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Gift cards are great but in this economy, you'd better research the retailer and ask questions before you buy the card. The business could go belly up, before you get a chance to use it.

There's not a lot you can do ahead of time -- if a retailer sells you a gift certificate, even though they know they're closing. We complied some tips, after learning that a West Broad Street spa has closed its doors, leaving customers with unused gift cards.

'Oasis by the Palms', West Broad Street, closed in December and word is now getting around as card holders show up to redeem their certificates. The notice on the door, blames the poor economy. In this instance, the owner has listed other salons willing to honor the gift cards. But, remember, it's a verbal arrangement that could translate to limited services or, nothing at all. The state Division of Consumer Affairs says research and ask questions before you buy.

"It may not be inappropriate in this day and age to say by the way, is there any chance that you will be going out of business soon? Whether or not you get an honest answer depends on the company," said Elaine Lidholm with the Virginia Department of Consumer Affairs.

It's also safer to pay with plastic.

"Pay by credit card because that way you can go back to your credit card and dispute it, and you may be able to have them wipe out the charges," she said.

12 on Your Side made some calls -- one of the salons accepting 'Oasis by the Palms' gift cards is only giving limited services; most said they will accept them through March. 'Ahead of Hair' salon owner Tony Taylor hired four of the defunct company's employees and has given away about $2,500 in services, honoring 'Oasis' gift cards.

"It's really hard to have money spent and not be able to redeem these gift cards," said Taylor. "Hopefully it will benefit us in the long run. That these people will come to our salon and discover that 'Ahead of Hair' is the place for them and they will just become clientele of ours."

Another tip, if a company files for bankruptcy you can also file a claim the court. A check with the S.C.C. shows 'Oasis by the Palms' is delinquent on its annual registration fee, but formal closing paperwork has not been filed.

Oasis by the Palms  is out of business.  The following salons have agreed to honor gift cards purchased at Oasis by the Palms:

AHEAD OF HAIR  - 2 locations
1201 Sycamore Square
Midlothian, Va. 23113
201 Town Center West Blvd #711
Richmond , Va 23220

201 Towne Center West Blvd#705
Richmond, Va. 23233

1565 Parham Rd
Richmond, Va.  23229

9127-T West Broad Street
Richmond, Va. 23233

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