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expired gift certificate

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this may seem cut and dry to some but let me explain. friends of ours were given a gift certificates -by us- for a restaurant that we enjoy. as it was somewhat of a present that the couple thought was unnecessary they had insisted on using it with us ....anyway as life happens sometimes by the time we went to use it it had expired by 1 yr and 5 months( i understand this is a long time however the gift certificate had a i year expiration date on it). did not want to have a problem at the restaurant so i called to determine if certificate could be used...initially the girl on the phone said no problem but to be sure i asked to speak to the manager who deferred me to the owner. Anyway i prefaced my talk with him (on the phone) by saying we are regulars (we have probably been to the restaurant which is walkable for us maybe 30 times in the past 3 years and have sent him much business in the form of takeout and new customers)...the manager was quite nasty in tone on the phone saying what his policy was and that is online with what others do..I really do feel this is poor business practice for any business (i am a business owner myself) and I told him so. I told him we would not be returning with the couple for dinner this week and he accused me of "threatening him" with loss of business. We go out about 3x /week and although i like the restaurant and for this area of north jersey it is quite good albeit overpriced i wont return.

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  1. I think you handled it very well by calling ahead to check rather than risking a potential scene at the time. While of course he has the right to say what he did, I agree it was very poor business practice and alientated a good customer. I think sometimes restaurants forget that they've had *your* money in their hands for a year and a half now; this isn't the case of a charity donation which is a somewhat different story.

    1. As a business owner, I understand the restaurant owners dilema...
      Where does one draw the line?
      There has to be a rule, yet there still must be some flexibility.
      Personally, I think a 10% leeway mays sense, but 40% additional time is pushing
      it too far.
      The business has to carry the gift certificate on its book as a liability until it is used or expires. If it has been written off due to expiration and is now presented it creates accounting and possible tax consequences.

      In 1970 we bought a business. The previous owners ran a retirement sale prior to the deal's closing. More than $50,000 in old (more than 5 years) gift certificates were presented. The owners had to reach into their pockets to make good on these funds when settling their final tax bill.

      On another note>>>
      The State of Connecticut has solved this problem for its residents.
      A law was passed a numer of years ago, that after 8/16/03, all gift certificates and
      gift cards sold in Connecticut do NOT expire and can not be eaten up by lack of activity fees.

      Even if you write off this establishment, it is time to work on your state legislators for a law such as this.

      Gift Certificates and Gift Cards

      The Unclaimed Property law was amended in 2003 to include language concerning gift certificates. Effective August 16, 2003, merchants selling gift certificates cannot place expiration dates on the certificates, nor can they impose inactivity fees/penalties to gift certificates/cards if the certificates/cards are not used by a certain date. Even if the “fine print” on the back of cards sold after that date describes inactivity fees or includes expiration dates, the new Connecticut law applies.

      2 Replies
      1. re: bagelman01

        I agree, co- owning even as a silent partner more of the chefs end vs the financial end. It is frustrating. And I am guilty I have a gift cert I haven't used. Over 8 months, I just forgot about it. One thing ... I had those cards, I put it in my wallet and forget about it. I did with starbucks, AMC and Home depot, luckily no expiration.

        Restaurants I like the good ol paper copy, sorry, but I understand why the card issue. I agree with the person who got the card, but agree being involved with the restaurant that it is policy. If the owner knew he really was a good customer, I would of approved it ... but again how many times can you do that and allow it and where to draw the line? If a really good customer ... ok, but it is a tough call.

        Yes, very smart to call ahead. Regardless of the outcome. Hard call for either decision.

        1. re: bagelman01

          In MA, gift certificates are valid for 7 years by law.

        2. The owner probably should have been a bit more customer focused and allowed its use, but it seems you are now punishing him for holding up his benefit of the bargain. The coupon clearly stated the expiration date and this was known, and it was not a couple of days after the expiration date but more than a year. You obviously like thisplace since you go there all the time and now because your friend screwed up you taking it out on the restaurant.

          Take a deep breath and make sure that you "blame" the offending party, not the non-offending party.

          9 Replies
          1. re: jfood

            the expiration date itself was actually only 5 months ago although i agree its a long time. its a bit frustrating as we go there often. I can get over the loss of the 75 bucks he had , i cant get over his indignation/tone. If I had stayed on to talk to him I would have suggested splitting the difference and making it a 35 or 40 compromise but i dont enjoy getting that attitude on the phone and at that point figured i wouldnt be happy for any price. in this day and age its really not my loss

            1. re: ekdd

              I suggest you check out New Jersey's law on gift certificates - it seems the 12 month expiration time period is against the law, and the gift certificate is still usable.


              The new law takes effect April 4, 2006 (although the provisions relating to the font size of disclosures will not be enforced against a gift card or gift certificate that is issued on or before January 4, 2007).

              The new law will:

              * prohibit gift cards and gift certificates from expiring within 24 months of issue;
              * prohibit charging dormancy fees within 24 months of issue or within 24 months of the most recent transaction; and
              * prohibit dormancy fees that exceed $2.00 per month.

              More info: http://www.consumersunion.org/pub/cor... and from the State of NJ Legislature: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2004/Bil...

              So despite the gift certificate having an expiration date, the 1 year expiration is illegal.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                About time NJ caught up with Connecticut...........
                But they don't seem to be doing a good job educating consumers and businesses.

                I suggest ekdd make a formal complaint to the state authorities

                1. re: bagelman01

                  The same thing still happens up here in MA - cards/certificates can't expire for 7 years, and cards with balances of less than $5 can be redeemed in cash but many places still give the card back with that amount or less on it.

                  1. re: bagelman01

                    <<I suggest ekdd make a formal complaint to the state authorities>>

                    instead of being vindictive, why not just bring the law to the business owner's attention? telephone nastiness aside, he's probably just going by a house policy that predates the law change because it's better for the business' bookkeeping and accounting. the op might stand to make a friend rather than an enemy by being understanding and nice about the situation.

                    1. re: soupkitten

                      Making a formal complaint is NOT vindictive.........
                      Our taxes are paying the civil servants salaries. They would bring the law to the attention of the restaurant. There would not likely be a fine for a first offense.
                      The restaurant would more likey heed the state employee, than pay attention to a customer who tells them of the law.

                      This way the state employee is the 'bad guy' NOT the customer who might be afraid of receiving doctored food

                        1. re: bagelman01

                          The "bad guy " here is the restauranteur who did not properly and correctly record the liability of the certificate, and spent the cash a year or so ago, and is now pissed off that he won't get paid twice for the same meal. As we say in Mexico, f*%k him, and feed him frijoles.

                          1. re: bagelman01

                            Let's see...the owner gets a phone call about a gift certificate that has expired and he draws a line in the sand. Two weeks later the state calls him about a gift certificate that expired that he did not follow the law upon. Yup, owner would never be able to connect the dots for that vector. (Insert sarcasm here).

                            Why not rise above it and try to work with the owner. What if this were Sallys. Would you call Hartford? Maybe the owner just did not know.

                            Jfood thinks its gutless to call the government to do what might be a simple mistake by the owner.

                            Start with..."I am not sure you know that the law in NJ changed in 2006..."

                            How about giving people the benefit of the doubt instead of thermo-nuclear war.

                2. I think you and the manager both wish you could have a do-over on this one, but it may be too late. I would have suggested going to the restaurant on a day you were not planning to eat, and ask the manager/owner face-to-face to re-validate the certificate, with his initials and an "OK". Familiarity and a calm tone are harder to reject. Impersonal phone calls at busy times can be iffy, and e-mails are even worse. In my experience, when I am depending on the kindness of strangers, the odds are against me 72 to 28.

                  1. Out of curiosity - was this a discount gift certificate? (Like you paid $25 for a $50 discount.) Or did you pony up say $50 for a $50 gift certificate?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Cinnamon

                      this was a 75$ gift certificate that cost....75$

                      1. re: ekdd

                        Raise hell if it was purchased after the law in your state went into effect, which it certainly sounds like it was. The owner was rude and is responsible for knowing the law about what he sells. You can try what jfood mentioned, of course, if you want any further contact with the restaurant - that might work but also might subject you to further tirades from the owner.

                        Maybe someone with cc experience can chime in - is this kind of thing far out of the realm of requesting a chargeback from your cc provider, because of how long ago it was purchased? (If you bought it with a cc, if it was American Express, they if anyone would be the cc company I'd expect would be most likely to be helpful.)

                        Would also contact the N.J. state authorities. It's just $75. But it IS $75 and there's a matter of principle here too.

                    2. After reading lindawhit answer and veggo, take a copy of the law and the gift certificate, go tothe restaurant and have a calm discussion with the owner. he may not have known the change in law to make his expiration date invalid.

                      17 Replies
                      1. re: jfood

                        After reading the most recent replies, that's exactly what I would do. Think about it - with most state governments, after they pass a law, it's rare they're going to inform their constituency properly, i.e., sending an official letter to all retail business owners about the change in the law that now affects how they do business.

                        Printing out the statute from the appropriate state's books and returning to the restaurant with the GC is at least a first start at solving this issue. THEN, if the restaurant's owner doesn't abide by the law, then it's time to go to the appropriate authorities for failure to honor the GC as well as obey the law.

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          The suggestions relating to to revisiting the restaurant and inform the manager there are consumer protection laws in New Jersey to protect the buyer/holder of gift certificates directly relating to expiration dates and fees really should be enough for the restaurant to resolve this situation without further incident....

                          Depending on how far you are willing to take this matter, i.e., to some New Jersey State Agency......what I can tell you to bolster your position should the restaurant still decline to honor the certificate you hold in hand....is if you file a claim against the restaurant in small claims court in your county, by State statute, any commercial business is required to bring an attorney to defend the complaint. Small Claims Court also has a three step process where the complaint has to qualify first, then there is the moderation phase and finally if there is no agreement made, then there is the court hearing phase. That's three separate billings to the attorney. Bringing these facts to the attention to the management of the restaurant should make them realize it would not be cost or time effective not to resolve this situation in your favor and simply honor the gift certificate with apologies for the ignorance and misunderstandings of the protection laws.

                          1. re: fourunder

                            Great, but that still circulates back to the issue of what could end up in one's food and how hostile would the atmosphere be anyway, when the owner has already accused the patron of withholding business by planning not to return in the face of the owner's (illegal) withholding of the value of the gift certificate.

                            I'm not saying the restaurant owner or staff would necessarily be vindictive enough to put anything untoward in the food, but the possibility remains there to wonder about through what would likely be an uncomfortable meal.

                            1. re: Cinnamon

                              Great, but that still circulates back to the issue of what could end up in one's food and how hostile would the atmosphere be anyway


                              I would be more wary of simply returning any food item back to the kitchen myself. Once the restaurant has the good sense to change it position and honor the gift certificate, color me crazy, but I for one would give the benefit of doubt that the restaurant will do everything to the best of their ability.....but also bear in mind, if the restaurant does change it's position and honor the certificate, the holder could pass it on to anyone they wish. The gift certificate would not be presented for payment before, but after the bill was presented. The certificate itself does not play into any scenario to the holder.....only his recognizable face.

                              1. re: fourunder

                                OK, so go back with the cert when one knows the owner won't be there, and wear a wig.

                            2. re: fourunder

                              I remember last holiday season about hearing a news report about gift cards (which presumably might apply to restaurant gift certificates), in which they gave a percentage or amount of money on cards that never gets redeemed, as people forget about them, etc. In this case, if the restaurant owner bends a little and honors an "expired" card, the goodwill generated towards the customer who will be way more likely to return (and tell their friends about it) in the future would seem like an investment, not an expense. Conversely- I don't think you "threatened" him- just expressed your hesitancy to return under the circumstances, which is understandable. Who knows how much money he might have made as a bonus from unredeemed cards in the past, which might balance out your card in this case?

                              1. re: markabauman

                                By no means did I ever" threaten him " I just said ,understandably i think ,that we wouldnt be eating there given his response with never even an I'm sorry about this etc.. thrown in and with a misplaced aggressive attitude. Truth is we have already given this establishment much good will in the recent past with our patronage and with my wife recently reeling off 6 names of people she had sent to the place.

                                1. re: ekdd

                                  I totally agree with you. It's unfortunate that they don't appreciate your past and (hopefully) future patronage.

                                  1. re: ekdd

                                    look you've made up your mind not to return to the restaurant that you've enjoyed 30 times based on one phone call. that's your prerogative to get testy about it and you obviously want to feel like the victim here, even though it's not even your own GC, but one you bought for your friends--- but you probably just caught the mgr while he was racking his brain about what bills to juggle in order to try and make payroll.

                                    from the restaurant's pov, somebody bought a gift cert at "2007, hey everything's great with the economy, prices" and tries to redeem it on a "2009, and we've been trying to dig ourselves out of this mess for more than 8 months now, menu." since the GC was issued, the restaurant's wholesale ingredient costs are up at least 20%+, sales are down, and the average menu item price is most likely lower than it was 2 years ago. faced with continuing economic difficulties, no wonder the owner/mgr felt "threatened" by loss of business, he's presumably the one making the tough calls, laying people off, and trying to juggle everything just to get by, and his family's the one taking it in the pants. . .

                                    everyone on this thread advocating threatening a small business in this economy with fines, court fees or worse over $75 seriously needs to take a deep breath and figure out that this guy isn't the one who tanked their 401k. and, everyone who's preemptively accusing the otherwise professional staff at this establishment (who are *completely* dependent on the establishment's customers for their livelihoods, have no safety net if they were to lose that livelihood, and who are suffering more than anyone else in this mess) of arbitrarily tainting anyone who brings in a GC's food-- get your heads checked!

                                    1. re: soupkitten


                                      Please do not iclude jfood in the "everyone". He's been advocating trying to work it out.

                                      Jfood agrees that the posters who have suggested incredibly draconian measures should re-read your post and try to act a bit compassionate.

                                      1. re: jfood

                                        And please don't include me in the "everyone" either. There is, however, the law on the OP's side. It is quite likely that the manager/owner/whoever is unaware of the change in their state's laws. And all I was suggesting was bringing it to the attention of the manager/owner.

                                        If, after showing them the law, they still refuse to accept a still-valid GC, then (1) they shouldn't be in the business of selling them if they're going to refuse to accept them and (2) it is at that point that further action could be taken by the OP.

                                      2. re: soupkitten

                                        the 2007 (december) vs 2009 analogy is fairly useless...the reality is the certificate expired 5 months ago . Like I said previously I can live without the 75$... the real victim is the restaurant- we've spent a lot of $$ there and sent many people there and guess what ..thanks to the above (Linda Whitt etc) I have found out that what the owner with the attitude told me is wrong and in fact illegal! And BTW the only person getting "testy" about this was the manager who rudely told me "a lot of restaurants have the same policy" and I had no leg to stand on. Its tough economic times for everyone SK and the threatening comment was inane

                                        1. re: ekdd

                                          you sound like you now have all the ammo you came here for.

                                          but why did you feel the need to interfere in the first place? you gave a *gift* (not your $75 anymore-- belongs to giftees) & the folks didn't use it, and according to the fine print the GC expired. so instead of leaving it to the giftees to figure out how to proceed, you took over. you thought your leverage (30 visits, presumably being friendly with staff, etc) at the restaurant would carry weight with the mgr/owner, and that you could use your leverage to ensure a positive outcome for your friend. whatever the circumstances, & whatever you did say, you caught this person at a bad time and the conversation didn't go the way you wanted it to. people got "testy," and at some point the owner/mgr must have somehow misinterpreted what you actually said as something "threatening" toward his business. despite you saying over and over how ridiculous the mgr/owner's reaction was, i can see how such a misunderstanding might occur. again from a restaurant pov, it's very frustrating when you've fed and cared for a person 30 times and they suddenly go off and start making demands or otherwise misinterpret what a customer/restaurant relationship is-- not that restaurants don't love their regulars. . . otoh i have *relatives* i haven't shared 30 meals with. i think it's really sad that your family really enjoyed this restaurant and now it seems like you can never go back. it all seems very petty, and i doubt that taking the guy to court or anonymously phoning the authorities about GC expiration or writing a nasty letter to the local newspaper saying his food stinks and you're absolutely positive the place has rats or whatever you plan to do is going to make you feel any better. the owner could give you ten $75 GCs and it wouldn't "make things right."

                                        2. re: soupkitten

                                          "$1.00 in 2009 had about the same buying power as $0.96 in 2007.
                                          Annual inflation over this period was about 2.07%."

                                          1. re: Cinnamon

                                            Apples and oil comparison. The CPI is made up of a bucket of goods and this relates to a specific item.

                                      3. re: markabauman

                                        i should also add that this wasnt a gift card but a mostly handwriiten certificate with a date of late december 2007 ( stated on the paper was that it expired one year from the date it was 'authorized")

                                        1. re: ekdd

                                          Any chance of naming this bad boy restaurant?

                                2. You've liked the food and service in the past and have a long relationship with the restaurant. So you didn't get what you wanted this time.

                                  There was a clear contract in effect (notwithstanding NJ state law) - you accepted it and the manager was within his right to refuse it. Perhaps you inferred something in his tone - I would have had trouble myself disguising disbelief if someone wanted to redeem a coupon 17 months old. Given the new NJ law, if your coupon was issued after the change, merely educating the manager would have been enough.

                                  Lastly, suggesting that you'd not be eating at his place was threatening him - why else would you say it? It certainly doesn't provide an opening for a mature discussion or a mutual resolution.

                                  You wanted what you wanted and didn't get it.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: alwayscooking

                                    The conventional definition of a coupon does not fit the conventional definition of a gift certificate. OP paid for the right for recipient to dine for the value of the cash, which whether OP was aware or not under NJ law could not expire at the time the owner denied it.

                                    Of course a person will not continue to patronize an establishment that does not live up to its contracts. OP and friends had just been denied the $75 value of OP's hard-earned money. So OP tells owner this. Not in any normal world would a restaurant owner have the right to a) deny patron what is legally patron's money value while b) forcing patron to continue to dine at the establishment or risk being told that patron by withholding attendance is threatening him with loss of business.

                                    For anyone who would like to know consumers' rights, here's a state by state rundown of gift card and gift certificate law:

                                    The contract in effect was under NJ state law. There was nothing to 'infer' in the manager's tone - OP made it quite clear what he said and there's not much room for wrong inference there.

                                    1. re: Cinnamon

                                      Thanks for the link and well said! Funny anecdote I just heard...friends of ours were apparently in a similar situation with an expired gift card (similar time frame- it had expired 4 months earlier and for more money) and went to said restaurant , used the card, without a word said on either side! No problem! I called ahead to avoid any issues...I also asked to speak to higher ups evenwhen the receptionist on the phone told me it should be fine. And no Always Cooking, I dont make it a habit of returning to places where I feel mistreated.Its amazing about how people forget to be pleasant when speaking to their customers. Again a very aggressive tone when I was calmly trying to explain my side and patronage. I own a small business. I cant tell you how many times a week I need to write something off/take a loss etc for the greater whole

                                      1. re: ekdd

                                        So now that you have the data including the NJ statutes and the feelings by many that both you and the restaurant owner could have handled it better, what are you going to do?

                                        1. re: jfood

                                          truth be told I wouldnt change a thing I did ..I spoke in a calm manner throughout. The owner is the one who handled this poorly.....I realized this certificate was iffy and if I was spoken to, instead of lectured at (customer service 101), it would be a moot point. What is the appropriate way to handle this btw...after I called and explained the situation prefaced with an " i am a loyal customer" etc, i received an angry annoyed response which i was unprepared for. i guess some here would say the appropriate response to being on the receiving end of an owners minitirade is .....oh sorry to have bothered you , can i please have a 4top at 8pm next weekend?!. anyone in my situation would respond in a similar manner (mind you never raising my voice-unlike said owner). To answer your question, gloriousfood hit it spot on

                                  2. I'm sorry, but if this were me, I'd just call it a day. $75 is nothing to sneeze at, but if I am able to swallow the loss, that's exactly what I'd do. Why would I even want to eat at a restaurant after all this, with all the hostility that has ensued so far? It would certainly mar my enjoyment and ratchet up the tension--not the way I'd want to start a dinner.

                                    I really don't see how any hostility could be defused at this point. At the very least, I might drop off a copy of the NJ statute regulating this issue, but other than that, I'd never patronize the restaurant again.

                                    17 Replies
                                    1. re: gloriousfood

                                      I agree. Even if the OP brought all the proof to the restaurant owner showing that he was wrong and he allows them to redeem the gift certificate, I think too much has happened thus far for the OP to ever have a pleasant or comfortable dining experience at this restaurant ever again.

                                      1. re: rebs

                                        OMG, there was one phone call and now it is "too much has happened".

                                        How will people handle real issues?

                                        1. re: jfood

                                          What I mean is that the owner has already soured things with his attitude to the point that I wouldn't want anything to do with that restaurant anymore. Why bother when there are other restaurants that are more hospitable and won't accuse me of "threatening with loss of business".

                                          1. re: rebs

                                            neither you nor jfood were on the call and as his grandmother used to say "two sides of every story and then what really happened." And saying she would not come back is exactly threatening loss of business.

                                            As far as the owner is concerned the GC expired and it was game over. Was it the customer focused thing, as jfood said earlier, it was not.

                                            And whois to say that when the owner is told what the law (changed only a couple of years ago) would do if presented with that information.

                                            Maybe jfood, who spends his professional career solving problems and moving from no to yes, just has an issue with one conversation leading to this conclusion.

                                            If OP wants to move on, her call, but jfood would not throw hundreds of meals out the window based on one conversation.

                                            1. re: rebs

                                              <<the owner has already soured things with his attitude >>

                                              The owner was working within his knowledge - the coupon had expired 5 months previously and he believed he had no obligation to redeem it. Had the OP just acknowledged the fact the coupon was past the expiration rather than threatening the owner, he could have more readily gone back to the place armed with new knowledge gained here.

                                              What was uncalled for was the expectation that the OP would get something for an expired GC (remember he had the same knowledge as the owner at the time of the call). And it was reactive when he got mad and threatened the owner rather than just agreeing to the terms of the GC (as they both thought).

                                              Now it becomes a bit more difficult to go back, present new information that neither had before, and then have a good meal - there's pride involved on both sides now.

                                              The moral of this story? Always be nice, be persistent, and never issue any ultimatum without understanding consequence (or having a backout plan). Lessons learned the hard way.

                                              1. re: alwayscooking

                                                AC- its helpful if you read the thread before commenting. The first thing I said to this gentleman was the GC had expired 5 months previously and certainly without threatening anybody. I specifically said it was a restaurant I had enjoyed several times. I spoke to a receptionist earlier in the conversation who said it wouldnt be a problem to which I was nothing but pleased..I asked to speak to higher ups after that to be sure this wouldnt be an issue. There are no consequences for me , there are probably 10 other italian restaurants within a 3 mile radius. I have no desire to give my hard earned dollars to a place that treats patrons in that manner. The other thing to keep in mind is it IS the owners job to know the ins and outs of something he sells in his establishment. As others have mentioned upthread GC are a winning proposition and i doubt that this is the first time it has come up since the law was rightfully changed.

                                                1. re: ekdd


                                                  Did read the entire post.

                                                  You were quite right to check with the highers up when it was clearly outside of the parameters of the GC. And speaking as a higher up (although not in the restaurant business), I learn something new about my profession every single day.

                                                  I can not suppose for the experience of the owner.

                                                  1. re: ekdd

                                                    you have set standards that noone who disagrees with you on has a chance of convincing you. The more jfood reads, the more he wants to side with the owner.

                                                    - You criticized the owner for not knowing the rules, yet you accepted a GC with the words that were clearly in conflict with a recently enacted change of law.
                                                    - You knew when you called the restaurant that you were asking the owner for violating a pre-agreed upon contract (neither of you knew about the change of law). Why don;t you try that with the lessor of your car, or lender on your home. As far as both of you knew he was acting within the words of the contract, and you spoke to not one, but two people.
                                                    - Jfood cannot comment on his "attidtude" but he was trying to keep his business afloat and someone called with an expired GC, it might not be great but it is understandable that he had other things on his mind
                                                    - And you DID threaten him. So it was not OK for him to lose his cool with his attitude, but it seems perfectly OK for you to lose your cool.
                                                    - and you did say in the OP "by the time we went to use it it had expired by 1 yr and 5 months" that means it was 29 months old, yet down thread you changed that in a reply to jfood to "the expiration date itself was actually only 5 months ago although i agree its a long time". so there are inconsistancies.

                                                    Jfood has nothing to gain or lose in this, just giving his opinion from his couch. But you did not take criticsm well at the time of the call and that contunues here. Sorry, but that the view fromthe couch.
                                                    - You non-chalantly did not believe

                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                      jfood I believe the GC was in fact 17 months old from date of purchase. It was good for 12 months but 5 months had gone past the deadline to use it.

                                                      I entirely agree that when selling the GC the owner did not know the law (ok not a defence as we know) but also the purchaser agreed to buy it with a 12 months deadline (also not knowing the law). Presumably friends were given this GC knowing they had 12 months to use it, put it in a drawer and forgot all about it.

                                                      Perhaps the OP could have started the convo with owner, I know my friends were remiss, any chance they could still use it knowing that it has expired by 5 months. Hubby and i are great patrons of your establishment and we are mightily unhappy that these friends have STILL not used the GC. If manager had said sorry then OP should have backed off and said it was worth a shot. End of.

                                                      1. re: smartie

                                                        please read jfood's other posts. he has recommended likewise. great minds...

                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                          actually, the OP should be totally P'd off with his/her friends, not the manager/owner and not CHs. You give $75 to friends and they don't make any effort whatsoever to use this lovely gift. I think the OP's anger is misdirected.

                                                          1. re: smartie

                                                            The definitive answer!

                                                            Of course . . ..

                                                            1. re: alwayscooking

                                                              thank you it just dawned on me.

                                                              I think the OP could apologise to the owner and say his/her anger was really at the friends for wasting the money. Since they enjoy their meals there it would seem like the best thing to do. And dump the friends!! (or make friends take them to the resto and PAY).

                                                              1. re: smartie

                                                                Yes and No

                                                                Sometimes we forget we have these certificates, so I would give the friends a break.

                                                                I actually have two gift certificates I have not used since 1988. One is for the Custom Shirt Shoppe and the other is for the Seaview Marriott Resort. Compounding my problem with the latter is......the Marriott Corporation no longer manages the property. How about that....but, I do not believe either has an expiration date on the vouchers.

                                                                1. re: smartie

                                                                  Why in the world would OP apologize!!! the resto should hope no formal complaint is placed as bagelman suggested

                                                              2. re: smartie

                                                                yup, jfood agrees and that was his opening salvo. your genius continues to impress.

                                                          2. re: jfood

                                                            you are welcome to side with the owner...hence i started this with... it may be cut and dry to some (obviously with a GC that was expired!). sorry for the confusion re dates ..smarties interpretation of timeline is exactly right . I have no doubt that i caught the owner at a bad time because no rationale person in his line of work would react angrily to a customer who introduces himself on the phone as a "regular". I called to make a reservation at a restaurant i like and to avoid any conflict while there (and in fact double checked as initially told by receptionist that it wouldnt be a problem). I acknowledged the GC was old and gave him the exact dates. 2 ways for him to handle this (1) graciously state he would honor this (which we now know was really his only choice as this is what is legal) or maybe honor some portion of it (50% etc) or (2) state he is unable to honor this in this economy ....in a less than agitated tone....He choose (3) to say there is no way he could do this, no restaurant does this.... with a nasty attitude . Thats fine and his choice on how to do business . However i wont condone this by replying anything other than I wont be making a reservation. As a business owner I look at things as a whole and "write off " money for what i feel is best in the long run and trying to keep people relatively happy. (thinking about this maybe thats why i have trouble making payroll each week :) ) And to make assumptions that cool was lost is wrong, never raised my voice for a second (more important than anything is not waking the baby !). - thats the view from the treadmill

                                              2. anyone who lets a GC go to waste in this economy is crazy. If friends bought us a GC I would make a real effort to go asap for a few reasons.

                                                1) Restaurants are closing down left right n center right now.
                                                2) A restaurant can change hands and change names or not, and the GC is no longer valid.
                                                3) I think it's bad manners on the part of these friends. You parted with your cash for a nice dinner out and they let yet another anniversary go by and STILL didn't use it. I would hope that my friends went out within 6 to 8 weeks and then called you next day to say thank you it was a delicious meal. They also could have just gone and bought wine or takeout up to the value of the GC within the year if they perhaps didn't like the restaurant as much as you do.
                                                4) how nice to have been given a 'free' romantic meal for 2.

                                                Anyway, I am siding with the restaurant owner on this one. They may have had the 'free money' being that it was like 17 months since it was paid for but oh well. As someone else has pointed out, costs are up, prices are down, there was an expiration on it (law or no law) and the owners of the GC decided not to use it.

                                                Maybe the OP should not have got involved in calling the manager and left it to the friends to fight their own battle and not tell the OP the outcome. Then the OP would still have enjoyed going to their favorite place.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: smartie

                                                  Your "law or no law" statement regarding a GC that has an expiration date is a completely invalid one.

                                                  If your state's laws require that GCs be accepted for 2 years from the date of purchase of said GC, then they must be accepted by said restaurant, barring that restaurant closing down or changing ownership and those issued-but-not-yet-redeemed GCs were not included in the sale of the restaurant.

                                                2. I'd give it one more shot in person with the gift certificate in hand.
                                                  If you've been there 30+ times the owner must recognize you. If I went to a place that many times I make it a point to let the owners know who I am and I tell them I like their place. Sometimes the phone isn't appropriate for certain situations and face to face is the way to go.
                                                  Re-explain how you got the GC for a good friend because you enjoy his restaurant and that you realize the it expired and maybe he could honor it or half of it.

                                                  If that doesn't seem to do it then remind him about the GC laws regarding expiration in your state. If that doesn't do it then chalk it up experience and feel like you've done all you could.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: monku

                                                    Figured I'd leave an update as it has been a year and finally decided to return on a rainy night when i didnt want to travel. Unfortunately we had not gone in the restaurant since before this incident even armed with a lot of the good info/legality/advice you folks had given . I just thought if I had to argue to get the gift certiciate honored than it is not worth it. The owner eventually saw me and came over and quietly apologized. He said he had been having a rough time emotionally and financially and admitted he was "out of line". No mention however of the specifics were discussed just that he was happy to see us . So ..not the perfect ending but will take it

                                                    1. re: ekdd

                                                      It is so nice of you to update everyone on what happened. These year-later updates are few and far between on Chow, it seems to me.

                                                      I'm a restaurateur. Are there customer interactions I regret? You bet.

                                                      This poor guy, while he reacted to you in an entirely inappropriate manner, was just being human. None of us are 100%. Perhaps he'd been hearing from customers with less-than-rational requests (I didn't like my meal on Tuesday, can I have comp drinks and dessert at about 7:00 tonight?) and your very reasonable request was the straw that broke (his) camel's back. It ain't right but it happened.

                                                      He was also graceful enough to apologize to you and let you know he knows who you are and that he's happy to see you.

                                                      You, now, have a restaurant that's convenient and good to return to again.

                                                      I *love* happy endings1

                                                      1. re: ekdd

                                                        Thank you *so* much for the update! I think the fact that the owner remembered it a year later and came back to do what he could to rectify his long-ago action is huge.

                                                        I do hope, considering you enjoyed the restaurant previously, that you will continue going there.