Consumer Watch: holiday gift buying


by Andy Treinen

Posted on December 8, 2010 at 4:39 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 8 at 7:06 PM

(WHAS11)  Not that any of you need additional pressure, but there are only 16 shopping days left before Christmas, and last minute gift ideas are often a flop.

In this week’s Consumer Watch, WHAS11’s Andy Treinen says buyer beware.

Let’s face it fellow procrastinators… the closer the deadline gets, the more desperate we last minute shoppers become; and the more desperate we become, the more likely we grab a hand full of gift cards at the mall and call it good.

The door buster sales are over and let’s face it, the hot toys only stay hot for a while.  Remember last year when people were paying as much as $75 Zhu Zhu pets?

This year, Dance Star Mickey, Stinkey the Garbage Truck, and the Fisher Price Bat Cave top the hot toy list; and maybe those are perfect for the person on your list, but maybe not.

Gift cards allow them to decide for themselves and this year they offer new protections for consumers, as a result of the new credit card law.  According to the new rules:
1. Gift cards can’t expire for at least 5 years from the date of purchase
2. Inactivity fees can’t kick in until at least year three, and cards need to come with a clear discloser of expiration dates and fees

If you’re buying for kids, keep in mind that hundreds of toys have been recalled in 2010.  You can find a list of them on the Kentucky Attorney General’s web site; but with re-gifting, yard sales and charitable gifting, many of those toys are still out there.

Organizations like W.A.T.C.H. (World against Toys Causing Harm) lists the most dangerous toys.  The most dangerous gift for adults is the gift cards that stop giving.  

If you get a gift card follow these simple rules
1. Read the fine print for information about restrictions
2. Use it as soon as possible so you don’t lose it or forget about it
3. And treat it just like you would cash in your wallet.

Some companies don’t replace lost or stolen cards, others do for a fee.