ESCHEAT AND GIFT CARD LAWS: MASSACHUSETTS

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MASSACHUSETTS

Definition of Gift Card/Gift Certificate:

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 255D, §1

“Gift certificate” is a writing identified as a gift certificate purchased by a buyer for use by a person other than the buyer not redeemable in cash and usable in its face amount in lieu of cash in exchange for goods or services supplied by the seller. A gift certificate shall include an electronic card with a banked dollar value, a merchandise credit, a certificate where the issuer has received payment for the full face value for the future purchase or delivery of goods or services and any other medium that evidences the giving of consideration in exchange for the right to redeem the certificate, electronic card or other medium for goods, food, services, credit or money of at least an equal value. A gift certificate shall not include pre-paid calling arrangements, as defined in §1 of chapter 64H, or any electronic card usable with multiple unaffiliated sellers of goods or services.

Expiration Date Provision:

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 200A, §5D

A gift certificate, as defined in §1 of chapter 255D, sold or offered to be sold shall be valid for not less than seven years after its date of issuance. The date of issuance and the expiration date shall be clearly identified on its face, subject to §75C of chapter 266, or, if an electronic card with a banked dollar value, clearly printed upon a sales receipt transferred to the purchaser of the electronic card upon the completed transaction, or otherwise made available to the purchaser or holder of the electronic card through means of an Internet site or a toll free information telephone line. A gift certificate not clearly marked with an expiration date or for which the expiration date is not otherwise made available as provided in this section shall be redeemable in perpetuity. Once an expiration date has been reached, the issuer of the gift certificate shall not be subject to §7.

 

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 266, §75C

Whoever sells or offers to sell a gift certificate as defined in §1 of chapter 255D, which imposes a time limit of less than seven years within which such certificate may be redeemed, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $300. This section shall not apply when the purchaser of the gift certificate is not obligated to pay for it until the time of use. Whoever, after having sold a gift certificate refuses to redeem the certificate before it has reached the expiration date, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $300.

Fee Provision:

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 266, §75D

Whoever sells or offers to sell a gift certificate, as defined in §1 of chapter 255D, which imposes dormancy fees, latency fees, administrative fees, periodic fees, service fees or other fees that have the effect of reducing the total value amount for which the holder may redeem such gift certificate, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $300 per violation.

 

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 266, §75E

Whoever sells or offers to sell a gift certificate, as defined in §1 of chapter 255D, which imposes any fees or charges including, but not limited to, purchase fees, activation fees, renewal fees or cancellation fees, shall provide to consumers notice of any such fees, in writing, on the gift certificate, on the packaging of the gift certificate, or on both. Failure to print such notice shall be punished by a fine of not more than $300 per violation.

 

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 266, §75F

Whoever redeems a gift certificate, as defined in §1 of chapter 255D and deducts a gratuity therefrom without the consent of the holder of the gift certificate, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $300 per violation.

Redeemable for Cash: 

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 200A, §5D

A purchaser or holder of a gift certificate which, by its terms, prohibits the purchaser or holder from adding value thereto and which has been redeemed for at least 90 percent of its face value shall make an election to receive the balance in cash or continue using the gift certificate. A purchaser or holder of a gift certificate which, by its terms, authorizes the purchaser or holder to add value thereto and which has been redeemed in part, such that the value remaining is $5 or less, shall make an election to receive the balance in cash or continue using the gift certificate.

Escheat Provision:

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 200A, §1 et seq.

A gift certificate not clearly marked with an expiration date or for which the expiration date is not otherwise made available as provided in this section shall be redeemable in perpetuity.

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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