Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Protecting us from evil gift cards

Time magazine joins Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal to demand strict new regulation of "gift cards," apparently because some retailers impose "inactivity fees" that kick in if they have not been used a year after issuance.

With all the real problems we have, who is the constituency agitating for this new regulation? Lazy people? I'm sorry, but if you have not used or re-gifted your gift card in a year, you probably lost it, have no use for it, or, like me, are irredeemably disorganized in such things. Anyway, there is no doubt a reasonable business purpose for those fees: to reduce the liability of the retailer, which would otherwise have an unresolved obligation to sell products in the future to the holder of the card. At some point, the retailer has to cut off the liability tail. Whittling it down after a year of inactivity is more than reasonable.

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