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Gift Cards

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BUSINESS
November 12, 2011 | By Scott J. Wilson, Los Angeles Times
Bank gift cards, which resemble credit cards and can be used in a variety of shops, were almost entirely unregulated until late last year. Now there are at least some consumer protections on these cards, which carry the MasterCard, Visa, American Express or Discover logos. Some things to know: • Bank gift cards can't expire for at least five years after purchase, according to the new federal rules. And if money is added to a card, that new money can't expire for five years from the date added, even if the expiration date on the card comes sooner.
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BUSINESS
February 28, 2014 | By Salvador Rodriguez
For the next week, customers who buy an Apple TV at one of the tech giant's retail stores will reportedly receive a $25 iTunes gift card as part of a promotion that could signal a new Apple TV is on its way. Apple news website 9to5Mac reported that Apple informed its retail employees about the promotion Friday morning. The bonus of a $25 gift card will be available to customers who buy a $99 Apple TV at an Apple Store between now and March 5, the report said. In the world of tech, discounts and promotions can often be signs that a newer version of a product will soon be rolled out. PHOTOS: Five ways the Samsung Gear 2 is better than its predecessor That was the case earlier this month when the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch was heavily discounted by two retailers.
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OPINION
December 21, 2009
The tradition of giving is writ large on the holiday season. Sadly, you also have to check the fine print. Especially when it comes to the gift cards that Americans love to bestow. More than 95% of us have given or received at least one, and in 2007 more than 60% of people surveyed said they planned to give a card that year. Sales of cards were predicted to reach $87 billion this year, and according to Consumer Reports, they are the most desired gift among women. But some of the cards come with sharp, Grinchy edges -- early expiration dates or monthly fees that kick in when the card isn't being used and that can drain down its value considerably over time.
BUSINESS
February 5, 2014 | By Stuart Pfeifer
A Wisconsin man has agreed to pay $10,000 to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that he sent millions of unwanted and misleading text messages to consumers with bogus offers of "free" gift cards and electronics. The FTC had accused Jason Q. Cruz of West Bend, Wisc., of sending texts that offered $1,000 gift cards to major retailers or free iPads to those who clicked on links in the messages. A typical message read, “You have been selected for a $1,000 Walmart GiftCard, Enter code 'FREE' ... to claim your prize: 161 left!
BUSINESS
January 31, 2013 | By Jessica Guynn
SAN FRANCISCO -- Facebook is rolling out a new commerce product: gift cards . The move is an expansion of its Gifts program. The preloaded cards will work with retailers in the real world. Initial launch partners are Jamba Juice, Olive Garden, Sephora and Target. Facebook is targeting a multibillion-dollar business as it tries to regain the confidence of investors who continue to be worried about the company's money-making potential. During a Wednesday call with analysts to review its fourth-quarter financial results, Facebook Chief Executive and founder Mark Zuckerberg said the company is still figuring out its gifts and retail business.
BUSINESS
August 21, 2012 | By Salvador Rodriguez
The Internet is no longer big enough for Google Play as Google announced gift cards for its virtual store Tuesday. The company said Google Play gift cards will be available at Target, GameStop and RadioShack. Google said Wal-Mart will also begin to offer the cards, but not until later this month and only from its website. The cards will be available at three different prices: $10, $25 and $50. The company announced the news online through a post on the Google Play page on Google+ along with a picture of the card.
BUSINESS
January 16, 2011 | Kathy M. Kristof, Personal Finance
If you have a bunch of unused ? or partially used ? gift cards sitting in a drawer somewhere, you're not alone. Some experts estimate that the average family has $300 in unspent plastic cash. If the cards were issued by a single store or chain, they're only a minor problem. Under California law, these retail gift cards cannot expire or lose value over time. It's essentially like having uncashed checks in your sock drawer. So-called bank gift cards, which can be used at numerous businesses, can be more trouble.
NEWS
February 16, 2012 | By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
Gift cards accounted for 18% of holiday spending last year, so likely some of us still haven't gotten around to using the prepaid presents. Here's a new way to spend them down: United-Continental airlines allows members of its frequent-flier program to exchange gift cards from major retailers for air miles. The Mileage Plus Gift Card Exchange accepts more than 60 types of gift cards -- Best Buy, Crate & Barrel, JC Penney, Peet's Coffee & Tea and Walmart, among them -- that have at least $25 credit and no expiration date.
NEWS
August 5, 2012 | By Stuart Pfeifer
Here is a roundup of alleged cons, frauds and schemes to watch out for. Campaign contributions - As November draws closer, campaign-related telephone calls are sure to increase. Some thieves are using the opportunity to scam those with an interest in politics, the Better Business Bureau said in a recent consumer alert. Several people have contacted the BBB to report that they have received suspicious calls from people who said they were raising money for political campaigns. People interested in making donations should visit candidates' official websites, which will include links to safely contribute, the BBB said.
BUSINESS
December 23, 2013 | David Lazarus
Spoiler alert: There's a really good chance you'll get a gift card for Christmas. That's not a news flash from the North Pole. It comes instead from the National Retail Federation, which estimated in a recent report that more than 80% of shoppers will be including the plastic gift cards inside greeting cards this holiday season. The average person will spend about $163 on gift cards, the group's survey found. That's up 4% from last year and represents the highest average amount since the retail association began tracking such things 11 years ago. Total spending on gift cards this season will reach about $30 billion, the group said.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 31, 2014 | By Samantha Schaefer
A former security guard at a Lakers practice facility pleaded no contest Friday to stealing three of the team's championship rings and hundreds of dollars of gift cards, the L.A. County district attorney's office said. Mejía Eddie Monterroso, 23, entered his plea to grand theft of personal property and was sentenced to 180 days in county jail and three years' probation. He was also ordered to pay almost $14,000 in restitution. Prosecutors said Monterroso stole the property while he worked the night shift between Oct. 24 and Dec. 5, 2013.
NEWS
January 9, 2014 | By S. Irene Virbila
The coffee wars are on. Taking a page from cellphone providers, Tonx Better Coffee Exchange, a micro coffee roaster, is offering subscribers and future subscribers a dollar-for-dollar trade-in of their Starbucks gift cards. For those of us who received a Starbucks gift card for Christmas, they're offering a trade-in -- for Tonx coffee beans. You have to already be a subscriber -- or decide to become a subscriber -- to take advantage of the offer, but what a deal. All you have to do is go to Tonx.org/better , enter a valid Starbucks gift card number and security code and your card will convert to Tonx subscription credit.
BUSINESS
December 23, 2013 | David Lazarus
Spoiler alert: There's a really good chance you'll get a gift card for Christmas. That's not a news flash from the North Pole. It comes instead from the National Retail Federation, which estimated in a recent report that more than 80% of shoppers will be including the plastic gift cards inside greeting cards this holiday season. The average person will spend about $163 on gift cards, the group's survey found. That's up 4% from last year and represents the highest average amount since the retail association began tracking such things 11 years ago. Total spending on gift cards this season will reach about $30 billion, the group said.
BUSINESS
December 22, 2013 | By James Barragan
Like millions of Americans, Jessica Hamilton of Pasadena will buy her friends and family a handful of gift cards this holiday season, drawn by their convenience. Yet Hamilton, who carries reusable bags when she goes shopping, is bothered by the thought of all of that plastic ending up in landfills along with worn-out hotel key cards, credit cards and the like. In 2012, the global card industry produced 33 billion cards, according to the International Card Manufacturers Assn. Most of those cards contained polyvinyl chloride, a plastic that contains pollutants that are harmful to the environment and is slow to decompose.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 16, 2013 | By Kate Mather
Angelenos exchanged more than 800 firearms -- including a World War II-era assault rifle and a .22-caliber pen gun -- for grocery store gift cards at a weekend buyback event, city officials announced Monday. The 817 weapons collected across the city Saturday included 387 handguns, 268 rifles, 131 shotguns and 31 assault weapons, Los Angeles police reported. Mayor Eric Garcetti and Police Chief Charlie Beck hailed the results at a news conference Monday. "This program is about something simple: Taking guns off the streets of Los Angeles," Garcetti said.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 30, 2013 | By Anthony Clark Carpio
Three men from Fontana were arrested on suspicion of robbing a person near a coffee shop in Fountain Valley earlier in the month, according to Fountain Valley police. Daniel Molina, 19, Christopher Godinez, 20, and a male juvenile were taken into custody at a home in Fontana. Molina and Godinez were booked in Orange County Jail, and the teen was booked in Orange County Juvenile Hall. The three suspects were reported to have robbed the victim outside the Starbucks on the 9000 block of Warner Avenue on Nov. 11. The suspects posted an ad on Craigslist to sell a $400 Starbucks card for $200, according to Times Community News.
BUSINESS
December 28, 2011 | By Andria Cheng
Renewed demand for gift cards may extend retailers' holiday cheer well into January. Gift card spending rose to nearly 18% of total holiday spending this year, the highest percentage since 2006 and up from 14.6% last year and 13.1% in 2009, according to a consumer-tracking survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs. The spending "might suggest a better sales performance in January as a result," said council Chief Economist Michael Niemira. He said this week will catch the first wave of gift-card redemption, with further activity on tap for the first two weeks of January.
BUSINESS
November 26, 2012 | By Salvador Rodriguez
Twenty years ago, you might've given your friend an album for their birthday from a Tower Records retail store. Starting today, you can send them iTunes credit through Facebook, along with song suggestions and a birthday wish.  Facebook on Monday announced that people can now use its Facebook Gifts service to send each other credit for iTunes, the digital Apple store for music, movies and other digital content. In late September, Facebook launched Gifts as another way to generate revenue, hoping to capitalize on the many birthday and congratulatory wishes users send each other every day. Now, when you go to a friend's profile or click their birthday reminder, you'll see a birthday cake icon that you can click to begin the process of buying them a present through Facebook Gifts.
BUSINESS
November 29, 2013 | By Salvador Rodriguez
Like most U.S. retailers, Apple is offering its customers Black Friday deals, but customers might want to skip them. The Cupertino, Calif., tech giant is offering customers store gift cards with their purchases. The value of the gift card varies depending on the product customers buy. Users who purchase any Mac computer will receive a $150 gift card while customers who purchase an iPad Air will receive a $75 gift card. For those who get an iPad 2, an iPad mini or an iPod Touch, Apple will throw in a $50 gift card.
BUSINESS
November 28, 2013 | By Ricardo Lopez
As organizers prepare for what they bill as the largest Black Friday protests to date, the National Labor Relations Board recently said that the practice of paying Wal-Mart strikers last year with $50 gift cards was legal.  The decision came as thousands are expected to turn out at about 1,500 Wal-Mart stores nationwide on Black Friday. The protesters are demanding better pay for employees, full-time work and and an end to what they say is retaliation against workers who speak out about working conditions.
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