$100 gift certificate rejected at major chain

July 27, 2011 7:45:16 PM PDT
A well known restaurant chain said no to a Bay Area woman when she tried to use a gift certificate there recently. She knew that was against the law, so she turned to 7 On Your Side for help.

Teresita Neal told 7 On Your Side about a night out she had with friends recently. She planned to pay with an old gift certificate her husband never used.

"It was a gift certificate and it was big like that. It was blue and the waiter said, 'Oh, we don't take them anymore,'" said Neal.

A gift certificate, rather than a gift card -- that is a sure tip off it was old.

"I was with my girlfriend, my executor, you know how that feels. I was embarrassed," said Neal.

She was at Benihana's and had to pay cash. Now she had the money and her friend thought no less of her, but still there was the $100 worth of fine Japanese food she wasn't going to get. So she called and complained.

"I told them the situation and the gift certificate was denied... because it was so old," said Neal. When asked how old it was, she said, "About five, six years old."

Neal knew that in the state of California that is not allowed, so she contacted 7 On Your Side and we contacted the restaurant and explained the law. The restaurant came through in record time, giving Neal gift certificates, worth $100. Benihana's even offered up a free lunch.

"He said I can give you lunch which will be on me if you will have it. I said I'll take a rain check on that one," said Neal.

So remember this: If you have a gift card issued in California, it cannot expire, even if it's five or six years old.

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