Cashing in on Gift Cards

State law means money in your pocket

For more than five years, retail stores in California have been required to give you cash back on your gift card if you ask and if the amount is less than $10.  But consumers and some stores are still confused by the law.

Gordon Siu knew the law was on his side when he had dinner at Boston Market and asked for the change left on his gift card.  But the store refused.

"The employee told me they don't give refunds and that their cash register isn't set up for it," said Siu. 

But Siu pointed out that he only had $6 left on the card and they were required to give him his money.  But the manager of the store told him it wouldn't be possible.

Siu took his complaint to corporate officials at Boston Market, and they did refund his money.  But how many stores five years after the law took effect understand how it works?

NBC 7 purchased five gift cards and tried to get money back at five locations: Boston Market, In-N-Out, Starbucks, Bath & Body Works and Ross. 

It went smoothly at three locations, but the person at the register at In-N-Out wasn't sure how the refund works and needed help from a manager to get the money.  However at Ross, NBC 7 was denied a refund by both the store clerk and manager.

NBC 7 contacted the corporate office for Ross received and this email response: "We continuously train our associates on issues like this to make sure all of our customers have a consistent and satisfying shopping experience at Ross.  We have addressed this issue at our Kearny Mesa store.  Thank you for bringing this to our attention."

Gordon Siu says people should insist that they get their money when they ask for it. 

"They are required to do it by law.  It is not optional." said Siu.

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