Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Legislator eyes unused gift card value

Rep. Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee) said today that the value of unused gift cards should go to the state treasury – not to the merchant – and that change will be part of a bill he’ll introduce in the legislative session starting in January.

Kessler said millions of dollars a year go unused by gift card recipients, and retailers are allowed to book the unused values after the cards expire. He cited figures from Consumer Reports showing that 19% of all gift cards are not used because they are lost or expired.

Kessler called that a “windfall,” which he said could be used to support schools, health care or roads. Under his bill, after a one-year expiration date on all cards, 80% of the value of unused cards would go to the state treasury. Merchants could keep 20% of the value of an unused card to pay for processing, Kessler said.

Since those cards never expire (unless they’re so old the store’s changed their register system so many times that they don’t read them anymore) that one year limit is awfully, one might say, windfallish.

Personally, I’d never buy a gift card again. To use a phrase I like to use when I’m not blogging: “F--- that sh-t.”