JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Millions of Americans received a gift card or gift certificate during the holiday season — but many can’t use them after stores go out of business.
Elizabeth and Michael King feel they were dealt a bad hand by a Jacksonville nail salon.
Michael King says he used cash to buy his wife Elizabeth a $100 gift certificate for Christmas at the You Be Nails and Spa at River City Marketplace. Two weeks later, Elizabeth tried to use it but found the salon shut down.
“I had no idea they would just pack up and leave,” said King.
Action News Jax Ben Becker did some digging and discovered the nail salon owner is named in a lawsuit for nonpayment of rent dating back to December.
The eviction letter from the property manager says the nail salon owner owes more than $15,000.
“When I say gift cards, you say what?,” Becker asked Action News Jax Law and Safety Expert Dale Carson.
“It’s an easy way to lose money,” said Carson.
According to the National Retail Federation, gift card sales during the holiday season reached $27 billion, making it the second-most popular gift.
‘If you lose the card it’s gone,” said Carson. “If the business goes belly up you have lost the money and you have given them a free loan of your cash, which seems absurd.”
Becker went to work trying to get the Kings their money back by visiting another nail salon that’s registered under the same name of the owner of the closed salon.
A man inside told Becker the owner was out of town, just as he had a week before when Becker left his business card.
“I will call you,” said the man.
One day later, he called Becker and said the Kings can use the certificate at that open salon or get a refund.
“I regret paying in cash,” said King. “I believe I would have protection paying with a credit card.”
King sent Becker an email after this story aired saying, “Thank you so much for your assistance. My wife is very happy.”
Action News Jax reached out to both Mastercard and Visa and was told that in a situation like this one, paying with a credit card can protect you.
If you pay for a product and never receive it, you would most likely be covered. You just need to provide evidence of both your purchase and the business closure.
Cox Media Group