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JLL Guarantees Gift Cards

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There's been some buzz recently that customers might not be able to redeem gift cards because of store closures and bankruptcies. That might be true with some retailer branded cards, but largely is not a problem. In any case, to allay fears, Jones Lang LaSalle has taken the step of guaranteeing its gift cards.

The company, which operates 120 malls and shopping centers, said it will guarantee gift cards between Friday and Jan. 21 sold by national retailers that are its tenants, if they declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Cards that no longer hold value will be replaced with a mall gift card of equal value by Feb. 1, the company said. If they cannot verify the value of the card, Jones Lang LaSalle will offer a $20 mall card, unless the face value shows a lesser amount. Mall gift cards are issued by banks, rather than retailers, the company said.

Jones Lang LaSalle said it issued the pledge in response to an e-mail that is circulating, which claims gift card buyers may get stuck holding worthless cards if chains close their doors.

Dwellgo also looked at the email that's been circulating, which lists a lot of retailer names and claims consumers won't be able to redeem gift cards at many of them.

The email that we received noted massive retail store closures, yet after further examination contained both truth and sometimes total lies. As well, the stores listed had already made announcements of bankruptcy or store closings prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

What remains unknown at this time is how the events of the downturn and credit crisis over the last 6 months will affect retailers moving forward. We're definitely hearing comments ranging from caution to outright worry from our Commercial Real Estate brethren (and I'm speaking about the US, not specifically Austin here).

A final note on giftcards for retailers who have announced bankruptcy…Federal law does allow for companies to stop honoring gift cards when they file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, but of course not all businesses do. Gift cards may continue to be accepted while the retailer reorganizes or card redemption may be temporarily suspended and resumed later. Financial experts have stated that to be safe, it's a good idea to redeem giftcards soon after receiving them, especially in these uncertain economic times.

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Elaine Misonzhnik

Senior associate editor Elaine Misonzhnik has been writing for National Real Estate Investor since June 2006 and has covered commercial real estate for more than 12 years. She first became...
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