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Restaurant Refuses To Honor Gift Card -- I'm Still Dumbstruck

Hoc

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I'm still shocked at the whole situation here. Yesterday, my girlfriend decided that she wanted to go out for breakfast. We decided to go to a local restaurant where I had a gift card, in order to save money.

I had bought the gift card 4 years ago for $100, and used it once last October for about $27. My girlfriend remembers at that time that the waitress showed me the receipt and said, "you still have $XXX (she can't remember the amount) left on it."

In California, gift cards can't expire. What's more, the card said on its face: "Does not expire in California," and "treat this card like cash."

Obviously, they refused to take it. They said that they had thrown out the machine that could show what was left on it about a year ago. I told them that they could accept it as payment for the meal and I would not use it again, or they could refund me the approximately $73 left on the card. They refused. I called the manager over, who said, "I don't know what to do." I told her that she should either accept the card or refund my money. I then wrote up a couple of lines on a piece of paper that said that I tried to use the card, and they refused to allow me to do it.

Her response: "I'm not signing nothing." I told her to call the owner and resolve it, because either she would need to give me a written statement saying that she was rejecting the card, or otherwise take the card or refund the balance.

She made a call and then everyone proceeded to ignore me for the next 15 minutes. I went up to the checkout register with the card and the paper. Suddenly, a police officer showed up. They had called the police!!!

I explained to him what was going on, and he said to her, "Why don't you just sign the paper?" She responded, "I don't have to sign nothing." I told him that I just wanted evidence that they refused to honor their card, and then I would sue them. He said that he would write a police report, which would provide the evidence.

That satisfied me, so I paid with my American Express (no tip, obviously). Yesterday afternoon I wrote a letter to the owner explaining the situation and advised that the conduct was an Unfair Business Practice under California law, entitling me to damages in a minimum amount of $1,000. I offered to settle the matter for half, $500.

In response, I got an email suggesting that I pulled the card out of the trash, falsely stating that the Restaurant never sold cards in excess of $100, and that I "must have" won the card (which allegedly could not have been worth more than $20) "in a raffle." That prompted me to go digging through my credit card records in 2004, and lo and behold, I found the statement with the charge to the restaurant for $106.50. I advised her of that and that my settlement offer was still open until next Monday.

She then responded by calling me "a bold faced liar," and stating that my $106.50 receipt must have been for food (this in a restaurant where the average entree is $8.95), and threatening to have me criminally prosecuted for "defrauding an inkeeper."

I have never sued anyone on my own behalf before, but I don't like bullies or liars, and I finally had enough. I probably would have let the matter drop if she had just signed the paper. Not worth it. But calling the police and threatening to use them again to gain advantage in a civil matter, well that's extortion in California.

What a bully. I sued the company today, for $73 plus a $1,000 penalty under the law. I will be representing myself. The company must hire a lawyer, because it's a corporation. Just to defend itself it will have to pay several thousand dollars in legal fees, which it cannot recover even if it is successful. What a stupid move by an obviously stupid person.
 

djs

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Best of luck to you, hopefully you will win and the manager who is clearly well schooled in the art of customer service will be out a job.
 

rapmarks

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I have started wrapping my gift cards in the last receipt when i put them away. When I used my Appleby's gift card, I discovered that I had lost $8 between my previous meal and the next time I used it. noone could explain it to me, and the management never answered my emails about it.
 

Beaglemom3

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They picked the wrong person.

A little local press would be great. Nothing like word of mouth.

Sorry that this happened to you, but you are in a position to prevent it from happening again to someone who, perhaps, cannot advocate for themselves.

I would not want to go up aganist you across the aisle. I've got 5 bucks on you !
 
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Blondie

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Good for you. In any courtroom this woman will look like the thieving dunce she is. Keep us posted. After you win can you sue her for slander??
 

ricoba

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Bixby Cafe in Long Beach did almost the same thing once to me, except this time it was just a straight coupon. They refused to honor the coupon, which was still clearly valid (the use by date was still on the coupon). They said they didn't use that vendor any longer, and so they didn't have to honor the coupon. To honor this it would have simply been a buck or so...but they wanted to ignorant about it over a dollar. So we left, no tip, and never went back. The place was burned in a fire a year or so after our last visit., and somehow I felt a little bit of small satisfaction.:ignore: ;) :eek:
 

Wonka

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I sure hope you win $1100. What a joke that restaurant must be, and with their bad attitude they surely deserve to lose. I would alert the press, why not? They chose to embarass you by calling the police in a public place, rather than simply settling for a small amount.

What restaurant was this? I'd like to send them an email.
 

susieq

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I called the manager over, who said, "I don't know what to do." I told her that she should either accept the card or refund my money. I then wrote up a couple of lines on a piece of paper that said that I tried to use the card, and they refused to allow me to do it.
Bixby Cafe in Long Beach did almost the same thing once to me, except this time it was just a straight coupon. They refused to honor the coupon, which was still clearly valid (the use by date was still on the coupon). They said they didn't use that vendor any longer, and so they didn't have to honor the coupon. To honor this it would have simply been a buck or so...

Same person?? ~ You go ~ win your case and give them all the bad publicity that you can!! :D

Sue
 

dgdbloe

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Don't back down and good luck. Keep us posted
 

DeniseM

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Bixby Cafe in Long Beach did almost the same thing once to me, except this time it was just a straight coupon. They refused to honor the coupon, which was still clearly valid (the use by date was still on the coupon). They said they didn't use that vendor any longer, and so they didn't have to honor the coupon. To honor this it would have simply been a buck or so...but they wanted to ignorant about it over a dollar. So we left, no tip, and never went back. The place was burned in a fire a year or so after our last visit., and somehow I felt a little bit of small satisfaction.:ignore: ;) :eek:
This happens quite often with Entertaiment Book coupons. I found out that the E book automatically puts a merchant in their next book (without a new contract for the next year) unless the merchant specifically cancels.
 

ricoba

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This happens quite often with Entertaiment Book coupons. I found out that the E book automatically puts a merchant in their next book (without a new contract for the next year) unless the merchant specifically cancels.
This was a discount coupon 10% I think on the back of a Von's receipt.

I've only purchased the Entertainment book one time here, and never found it really to be of much value to us.
 

MRSFUSSY

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Several years ago my husband received a gift card for $100.as a birthday gift. We went to the resturant about 10 days later and were told that the gift card was no good. The restaurant had changed hands during that short period & the new owner would not honor it. We never told this to the person who had given the card to my husband. I wonder how many other people this happened to?
 

dmharris

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It amazes me how service businesses forget what their business is. SERVICE! They have lost a couple customers, created ill-will and the word-of-mouth will be damaging. The manager was short-sighted. She should be fired, but more and more I see this. What happened to "the customer is always right?"
 

Egret1986

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Unbelievable!!!! Well, I do believe YOU

I hope you do reap satisfaction out of this. It is truly amazing that businesses conduct themselves in this way. We have a local program on our news channel called "10 On Your Side", that brings things like this to the forefront for other folks to be made aware of. Not accepting gift cards and coupons from the business is wacko. It leaves a bad taste in the patron's mouth and repeat business has been nipped in the bud. Also, the negative word of mouth also can stop otherwise new or current customers from patronizing the establishment. The potential in lost revenue would far exceed the amount (especially the amount of that little coupon). Please do let us know what happens!!:D Get em!! Get em!! Get em!!
 

pjrose

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Grrrrr...my blood pressure is up just reading this! I echo everything the other posters above said. Good for you for sticking up for yourself.
 

normab

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Seems to me that customer service is lacking in many establishments nowadays. Several times we have been in situations where we could not believe the reaction of the manager when there was an issue. They lose a good customer when they are unreasonable and or/lack a customer service attitude. Sometimes they seem to be arguing a point instead of letting the customer be right when it costs them very little.

I applaud you for taking the time to take them to court. :clap:
 

gmarine

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I loved hearing that your fighting them. Well done. Please post the outcome.
 

Hoc

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Good for you. In any courtroom this woman will look like the thieving dunce she is. Keep us posted. After you win can you sue her for slander??
I wouldn't, because it's not worth it. But, technically, because she communicated her abusive feelings only to me, it's not slander. It becomes slander only if she tells someone else.
 

Hoc

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A little local press would be great. Nothing like word of mouth.
Not my style. I'll deal with it directly between her and me. I really dislike bullies, but you can bet that everything I do will be without ability for her to sue me.
 

Hoc

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Bixby Cafe in Long Beach did almost the same thing once to me, except this time it was just a straight coupon.
Coupons are treated differently under California law. But California Civil Code Section 1749.5 provides that a gift card or gift certificate that is purchased cannot expire.
 

Hoc

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Hoc. No tip?
Yeah, the tip is don't try to bully someone who knows the law, knows how to exercise his rights, all to steal his money and save $25.

The waitress told us that several people had already tried to use their cards and were refused. So, this at least might cause them to think twice in the future before they try to steal the money others paid them for their gift cards.
 

Icarus

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The waitress gets the tip, not the restaurant or the manager.

-David
 

dougp26364

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Yeah, the tip is don't try to bully someone who knows the law, knows how to exercise his rights, all to steal his money and save $25.

The waitress told us that several people had already tried to use their cards and were refused. So, this at least might cause them to think twice in the future before they try to steal the money others paid them for their gift cards.

It's to bad you can't locate the others who lost money and help them get their just deserts as well. ;)

Glad your taking them to task on this. Most of us don't have a firm enough grasp on the law to know how to proceed and the business just gets away with this bad practice.

What do you think the odds are that anyone from corporate will even show up? If I were a betting man, I'd almost bet that they won't show up and judgement will be rendered in their absence.
 
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