From the Office of Congressman Charles Bass
Washington , D.C. - U.S. Representative Charles Bass (R-NH02) today received a written response to his December 20, 2005 , letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in which he urged the agency to undertake an investigation into the marking, sale and usage of consumer gift cards.
"The FTC shares my concerns and has now issued a Consumer Alert to warn of the many inconsistent policies and lack of notification standards that remain present in this largely unregulated market," said Bass. "This is a vital first step in ensuring that consumers are aware of the potential problems with these cards, and I believe we can do more."
As the gift card market grows at a rapid pace, issues regarding their marketing, sale and usage continue to arise. Questions still remain as to whether state consumer protection laws apply to all gift cards, including those issued by traditional banking and financial service institutions, and consumers continue to report instances of retailers assessing undisclosed fees, setting expiration dates and preventing purchases of any amount over the card limit.
As a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Bass will be requesting a hearing to further evaluate the gift card market and to look into establishing uniform guidelines for all gift card issuers to follow.
Bass has remained actively involved in unearthing the many problems associated with gift cards experienced by New Hampshire consumers. This issue first surfaced when the State of New Hampshire filed a lawsuit against a gift card issuer who claimed their cards were not subject to state consumer protection laws. Bass has worked with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) to ensure that these inconsistencies are relayed to the FTC. The FTC report requested by Bass and Barton noted the concerns outlined by the two Congressmen, and the FTC Consumer Alert is available online at www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/giftcardalrt.htm .
"I will continue to work toward ensuring that consumers are protected from the uncertainties and deceptive practices that have been associated with certain gift cards," stated Bass.