ESCHEAT AND GIFT CARD LAWS: WASHINGTON

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WASHINGTON

Definition of Gift Card/Gift Certificate:

Wash. Rev. Code §19.240.010

“Gift card” means a record as described in subsection (5) of this section in the form of a card, or a stored value card or other physical medium, containing stored value primarily intended to be exchanged for consumer goods and services.

“Gift certificate” means an instrument evidencing a promise by the seller or issuer of the record that consumer goods or services will be provided to the bearer of the record to the value or credit shown in the record and includes gift cards.

Expiration Date Provision:

Wash. Rev. Code §19.240.020(1)(a) and §19.240.030

Expiration date is not allowed unless no money was paid for gift certificate or when certificate is valid for artistic or cultural organizations and disclosed to the user.

Fee Provision:

Wash. Rev. Code §19.240.040

Can enforce a dormancy or inactivity charge if: (1) disclosed as specified; (2) The remaining value of the gift card is $5 or less each time the charge is assessed; (3) The charge does not exceed $1 per month; (4) The charge can only be assessed when there has been no activity on the gift card for 24 consecutive months, including but not limited to, purchases, the adding of value, or balance inquiries; (5) The bearer may reload or add value to the gift card; and (6) After a dormancy or inactivity charge is assessed, the remaining value of the gift certificate is redeemable in cash on demand.

Redeemable for Cash:

Wash. Rev. Code §19.240.020(3)

If a purchase is made with a gift certificate for an amount that is less than the value of the gift certificate, the issuer must make the remaining value available to the bearer in cash or as a gift certificate at the option of the issuer. If after the purchase the remaining value of the gift certificate is less than $5, the gift certificate must be redeemable in cash for its remaining value on demand of the bearer. 

Escheat Provision:

Wash. Rev. Code §63.29.140

(1) A gift certificate or a credit memo issued in the ordinary course of an issuer’s business which remains unclaimed by the owner for more than three years after becoming payable or distributable is presumed abandoned.

(2) In the case of a gift certificate, the amount presumed abandoned is the price paid by the purchaser for the gift certificate. In the case of a credit memo, the amount presumed abandoned is the amount credited to the recipient of the memo.

(3) A gift certificate that is presumed abandoned under this section may, but need not be, included in the report as provided under RCW 63.29.170(4). If a gift certificate that is presumed abandoned under this section is not timely reported as provided under RCW 63.29.170(4), RCW 19.240.005 through 19.240.110 apply to the gift certificate.

 

Wash. Rev. Code §19.240.005 et seq.

It is the intent of the legislature to relieve businesses from the obligation of reporting gift certificates as unclaimed property. In order to protect consumers, the legislature intends to prohibit acts and practices of retailers that deprive consumers of the full value of gift certificates, such as expiration dates, service fees, and dormancy and inactivity charges, on gift certificates. The legislature does not intend that chapter 168, Laws of 2004 be construed to apply to cards or other payment instruments issued for payment of wages or other intangible property. To that end, the legislature intends that chapter 168, Laws of 2004 should be liberally construed to benefit consumers and that any ambiguities should be resolved by applying the uniform unclaimed property act to the intangible property in question.

An issuer is not required to honor a gift certificate presumed abandoned under RCW 63.29.110, reported, and delivered to the department of revenue in the dissolution of a business association.

 

Wash. Rev. Code §63.29.110

Intangible property distributable in the course of a dissolution of a business association which remains unclaimed by the owner for more than one year after the date specified for final distribution is presumed abandoned.

SOURCE: National Conference of State Legislatures


PLEASE NOTE:  Please note the summaries should be used for general informational purposes and not as a legal reference. DropZone Marketing is unable to answer questions or provide guidance to business owners regarding gift cards and gift certificate laws and practices. If you have questions regarding issuing or redeeming a gift card or gift certificate or a retailer’s practices, please contact the Office of the Attorney General in your state.

About James La Barrie

James La Barrie is passionate about marketing and changing a company's service culture. Originally from the Caribbean island of Antigua, James melds his approach of marketing and delivering elite service together as one. James has injected his 'service marketing' approach throughout his career to transform companies from good to great.

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