The Gift Card Working Group addresses the rapidly spreading restrictions on the highly popular gift cards used by many retailers. Retailers are dealing with existing and proposed state bans on dormancy fees and expiration dates in several jurisdictions. Currently, the group consists of over 200 participants from more than 85 retail companies and state retail associations.
The group will work to create a depository of knowledge and possibly address some best practices. We are also working to gain a comprehensive perspective of issues related to gift cards such as unclaimed property, escheat rules, dormancy fees and expiration dates, state legislation, identification of fraud and loss prevention concerns, issues with sales of gift cards on online auction sites, messaging advice related to generic versus proprietary gift cards, and possible federal restrictions affecting gift cards.
A significant challenge for NRF is finding common ground among such a large and diverse membership. Work group participant companies are dealing with existing and proposed state bans on dormancy fees and expiration dates, for example, in a number of non-uniform ways. Many large companies have dropped the fees and expirations altogether rather than try to deal with regulations on a state-by-state basis when doing business nationwide. For online merchants, global restrictions are another layer of challenge. Others have adopted policies that indicate that a fee or expiration applies "except where prohibited by law."
The NRF working group is examining a variety of solutions, including fighting the legislation on a state-by-state basis in cooperation with state retail associations. Identifying a common solution at the federal level - NRF's forte - certainly appeals to many retailers, but a federal effort to preempt this domain of state law presents enormous political hurdles that may prove insurmountable. The committee is for NRF Retailer Members only.
For more information on joining this committee, please contact Eileen Pryor.