Holiday consumer tips from Mercer County Consumer Affairs

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mercer county new jersey - the capital county - brian m hughes county executive

Happy Holidays!

Holiday wreath

A Message from Mercer County Consumer Affairs

The holiday season is here, and as we hustle about, shopping, decorating and spending time with family and friends, we also must be aware of some very important facts. 


What ensures that your gift certificate or gift card doesn’t expire and become worthless? New Jersey has a Gift Card Act that covers not only gift cards but also gift certificates. The Gift Card Act focuses on retailers that issue their own gift card or gift certificate and does not apply to bank-issued cards that have a specific predetermined amount on the card and are usable at a merchant or an ATM. No gift card or gift certificate can expire for 24 months after it’s purchased. A retailer may impose a “dormancy fee,” not to exceed $2 per month, after 24 months. A dormancy fee cannot be imposed within 24 months of the date of sale, or within 24 months immediately following the most recent activity in which the gift card or gift certificate was used.
Consumers can protect themselves by taking these actions:
1. Read the fine print when purchasing gift cards or gift certificates.
2. Not all gift cards or gift certificates can be used to buy merchandise online, so be sure to ask.
3. Being a smart and savvy consumer is always the best protection of all, so it pays to know the law.


Mail order:
If you purchase merchandise by mail order, the law says you must receive your order within six weeks. If the business is not able to send you the merchandise you ordered, the business is required to send you a notice advising you of the delay, and then it must substitute merchandise of equal or superior quality for the merchandise you ordered or offer to send you a full refund.
Disclosure of store refund policy:
Every retail establishment in New Jersey is required to disclose its refund policy. The disclosure must be displayed in one of the following ways:
1. On a sign attached to the merchandise itself
2. On a sign affixed to each cash register at the point of sale
3. On a sign that can be easily viewed by the consumer while standing at the cash register
4. On a sign posted at each store entrance used by consumers


General safety rules:
1. Keep matches, lighters and candles out of the reach of children.
2. Do not wear loose, flowing clothes near open flames of a fireplace, stove or candle.
3. Never burn candles near evergreens.
4. Do not burn evergreens in the fireplace. When dry evergreens ignite, they burn like timber. Flames can burn out of control and send sparks flying into the room.
5. Most importantly, make sure you extinguish any open flame before you go to bed.


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