State wins Simon Gift Card judgment

Gift cards sold by three major malls in New Hampshire are a violation of the state’s Consumer Protection Act, according to a ruling in Merrimack County Superior Court.
Judge Kathleen McGuire ruled that the cards sold by Simon Property Group in the Mall of New Hampshire, Pheasant Lane Mall and the Mall at Rockingham Park violate state law because they have expiration dates and charge fees that cause them to lose value over time.
But Attorney General Kelly Ayotte said that even with the ruling, the Simon Gift Card still may be sold in New Hampshire because the court put off any enforcement pending the outcome of a case pending in federal court. In the federal case, Simon is challenging the state, arguing that its cards are not subject to New Hampshire’s gift certificate law because they are issued by a national bank.
New Hampshire’s Consumer Protection Act forbids the sale of gift certificates that expire or that have fees associated with them that reduce the value of the gift certificate. The court ruled earlier this year that the Simon Gift Card is a gift certificate under New Hampshire law, Ayotte said.
“My office will do everything it can to enforce our consumer protection laws,” Ayotte said. “The state’s position is that the Consumer Protection Act is not pre-empted by federal banking law, and that it in no way affects interstate commerce in a manner that is prohibited by the Constitution.”
Ayotte said that people who bought the cards in New Hampshire have lost nearly $1 million through card fees. – JEFF FEINGOLD

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