Fortunoff gift card woes

Seven On Your Side
February 26, 2009 2:19:31 PM PST
It was sudden and unannounced. Customers who went to fortunoff yesterday found that their gift cards are no longer being accepted. fortunoff filed for bankruptcy two weeks ago. This has left store customers with nowhere to turn. Vicki Georgiou figures she lost close to $1800. "These are gifts that were given to me," said the newleywed. "They're worthless now."

When Vicki got married last October, she registered at fortunoff and got gift cards. Yesterday, she went to the store in Westbury, Long Island and got a shock. "They basically told me that fortunoff is no longer accepting gift cards and there was nothing they could do."

When we went to fortunoff in Westbury, Long Island, we found signs at the store entrance and cash registers. Only a few forms of payment will be accepted and gift cards are not one of them.

And Vicki is not alone. Maria DeVivo was told she had weeks to use her cards. Until she went to fortunoff yesterday.

fortunoff told us, "As a result of fortunoff's bankruptcy filing...fortunoff can no longer accept gift cards as payment?"

Greg Doherty of Consumer Reports Magazine advises, in this shaky economic time, if you have gift cards from any store...

"Our advice to people is if you get a gift card, get out and spent it and spend it to the last penny."

So you don't end up like Vicki and Maria holding hundreds of dollars of worthless plastic.

In Westbury, Long Island, Tappy Phillips Channel Seven Eyewitness News.

UPDATE FEB 25, 2009:
The New York attorney general says customers who have gift cards or credit slips from Fortunoff can use them - at the store's going-out-of-business sale.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says the chain stopped accepting gift cards earlier this month as it sought bankruptcy protection and unsuccessfully tried to find a buyer.

Customers complained.

Cuomo said Wednesday the liquidators who now own the store's jewelry and furniture merchandise have agreed to honor gift cards and credit slips - but only until March 8.

Cuomo said there was an estimated $8.5 million in cards and credit in circulation. The chain has stores in Westbury, White Plains and Nanuet, N.Y., and elsewhere in the Northeast.