BUFFALO – Attorney General James secured refunds for New Yorkers who had purchased gift cards that expired earlier than legally permitted. The court order resolves a lawsuit filed earlier this year in Erie County against gift card company “Simply Certificates,” which profited by selling gift cards to consumers with illegal expiration dates. New Yorkers purchased gift cards from Simply Certificates that expired one year from the purchase date, in violation of New York state law that requires a 5-year period before a gift card can expire.
“At a time when so many are hurting financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic and recession, this will put money back in the pockets of New Yorkers,” said Attorney General James.“The greedy practices of Simply Certificates are simply unacceptable and illegal. Let this serve as a warning to any company that seeks to steal from New Yorkers: We will hold you accountable.”
Consumers were also charged reissuance fees for expired gift cards — terms which were not disclosed to the consumer at the time of purchase. Simply Certificates has agreed to offer eligible consumers the ability to get a refund or exchange their certificate via mail, free of charge. Additionally, they are also required to pay a penalty of $10,000 to the state of New York.
Eligible consumers must have purchased a certificate any time between December 25, 2016 and August 4, 2020. Consumers may request an exchange at any time, but those seeking a refund must submit their refund request by December 31, 2020. Those that are eligible can access further instructions on Simply Certificates’ website, where a form can be accessed to begin the process of receiving an exchange or a refund.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Christopher L. Boyd and Senior Consumer Fraud Representative Karen Davis, under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge of the Buffalo Regional Office Michael Russo. The Division of Regional Affairs is led by Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Jill Faber and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.