New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz reminds New Yorkers about their rights when returning unwanted gifts or cashing in their gift cards:
- All refund or exchange policies must be posted in the store. Surprise terms are illegal.
- If there is no policy posted, the store must allow full refunds within 20* days of the purchase.
- Any store that imposes limitations on gift cards must post a sign saying that terms and conditions apply and provide those specific terms on the actual gift card.
- Retailers cannot charge any retroactive fees for gift cards/certificates, or charge monthly fees on cards that are used within one year of their purchase.
The DCA wants New Yorkers to shop smart when hitting the streets for post-holiday shopping. A full list of holiday shopping tips with helpful information for visitors and residents is available on the DCA Web site www.nyc.gov/consumers. To request a pocket-size informational "gift card" or business flyer with holiday shopping tips, or to file a complaint, call 311 (or 212-NEW-YORK).
*Note: Pursuant to a November 2009 amendment to New York General Business Law (GBL) Section 218-a, the 20-day rule no longer applies. State law now provides that if a business fails to post a refund policy, a customer can return unused items for a cash or credit refund up to 30 days after purchase.