COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — There are a lot of benefits to gift cards, but what do you do with an unused gift card for a business that’s suddenly and unexpectedly closed its doors?
Before Eric Shawger left a West Chicago suburb for Johnstown, his favorite lunch spot was Corner Bakery Cafe. Fortunately for him, the franchise had two central Ohio locations.
“When we moved here and there’s one just a mile away in the Polaris area, I thought, ‘Hey, this could be great,'” Shawger said.
What’s even better, Shawger said, in the summer of 2021, the restaurant ran a promotion — discounts for customers who purchased gift cards. Instead of giving them to family or friends, though, Shawger used them himself — a purchase he thought would save him a little money in the long run, until one day in January, when he made a trip to Polaris.
“The day that I went over, expecting to grab some lunch, they were totally closed, and their drive-in signs were just gone,” he said.
Shawger searched online and found the Johnstown location also closed, meaning he was stuck with about $65 in gift cards that couldn’t be used.
“And I thought, ‘Uh oh, now what do I do?’” Shawger said. “So, I looked at the back of the card and I called the help desk, and unfortunately, like you hear a lot of times, they were helpless.”
Shawger added he was told they couldn’t give him a refund. So, Shawger said he called the corporate office and left several voicemails, but never heard back.
“They could have fixed this,” Shawger said. “With the number of voicemails and online messages I left, they could have said, ‘Here’s $75 worth, a little more than you’re losing and we’re sorry for your inconvenience.’ But I heard nothing.”
Shawger filed a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, then called Better Call 4.
Better Call 4 reached out to Corner Bakery Cafe several times, but got no response. The attorney general’s office said that they reached out to customer service, too, but also heard nothing.
Until late April.
Shawger tells Better Call 4, and the attorney general’s office confirmed, that Shawger received a refund check for the full amount of the remaining gift card balance, $64.21, from the company’s corporate office… something Shawger originally said he was hoping for.
“I would be happy just to get the money back that I spent,” he said.
Better Call 4 asked the attorney general’s office about protections or actions that can be taken for consumers in the same spot as Shawger.
It suggests contacting the business first. If that doesn’t work, file a complaint with the State Attorney General’s Office, both steps that Shawger took. Finally, if you paid for a gift card with a credit card, dispute the charge with your credit card company. For additional information regarding gift cards, check out the Attorney General’s website