Ask Finney: Spa gift card, San Francisco rent, auto-repair issues

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7 On Your Side's Consumer Expert Michael Finney answers your consumer questions.

7 On Your Side's Consumer Expert Michael Finney answers your consumer questions.

Question 1: Vicki asks: My husband bought me a gift card from a spa that has closed their California locations. I was unable to redeem it before they closed.
Only their Washington state locations remain open. What can I do?

Answer 1: Take a trip to Seattle? You have just run into the biggest problem with gift cards, what if the company goes out of business or leaves your area.
I would ask for a refund, but they probably won't go for that. So check out a gift card exchange site like Cardpool, and see if it will buy it. You could get 80% of what the card is worth. The last option is to sell it on Craigslist or eBay.

Question 2: Cassie asks: I am renting an apartment in the San Francisco. How much notice should my landlord give me when they raise rent? They're raising it by a few hundred dollars.

Answer 2: In non-rent controlled buildings, the State of California law says if a landlord increases rent by 10-percent or less, they need to give you *30 days* notice. If the rent increase is more than ten percent, they should give you *60 days* notice. Rent control can get complicated, so if you live in one of those units, please contact the San Francisco Tenants Union for advice.

Here is a link to the San Francisco Tenants Union.

Question 3: Ben asks: I brought my car in to a repair shop, but I feel like they over charged me for parts. And I feel my car is not completely fixed. The owner hasn't responded to my calls. What can I do about this?

Answer 3: If the repair shop has not been responsive to your calls, and isn't trying to listen to you, I want you to file a complaint with the Bureau of Automotive Repair. The investigators from that state agency will take a look at your complaint. Then, they will talk to the owner of the repair shop.

Here is a link to the Bureau of Automotive Repair.

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