Friday, November 21, 2008

Should we avoid giving gift cards this Christmas?

Cindy Swanson, CyberSnoop, investigates

As part of my radio job on 101QFL, I do a feature called "Cindy Swanson, CyberSnoop."

Basically I take an e-mail rumor and do my best to verify its accuracy or inaccuracy. This week, the subject is an e-mail that I've gotten from several people, warning not to buy gift cards this Christmas because of a long list of retail stores that may or may not be closing:

The Case of the Useless Gift Cards?

Are a large number of retail chains planning to go out of business by the end of 2008—meaning you should not buy gift cards from them for Christmas?

That’s the subject of an e-mail that is currently making the rounds…I received it from no less than three people in the past few days, and CyberSnoop has been asked to verify its accuracy.

Some of the stores mentioned are Ann Taylor, Disney Store, Eddie Bauer, Foot Locker, Home Depot, Macy’s, Sharper Image, and Talbot’s…the list goes on.

According to several sources, including and, the e-mail is a mixture of accurate, inaccurate, and outdated information. Quoting truthorfiction:

“It is true that some of these companies are facing tough times
financially, but not all of them are going out of business. Bankruptcy
sometimes means they are closing their doors. But sometimes it also means
that they are reorganizing and intend to continue. Sometimes other
companies may purchase them out of bankruptcy.”

As Snopes mentions, business information like this tends to be volatile, especially during tough economic times. Some of the chains in the e-mail have closed some of their stores or have intentions to close some. Some have closed a relatively small number of underperforming stores…some have sought bankruptcy protection but remain open…some have come through bankruptcy and emerged re-organized.

Probably the only way to be on the safe side? Avoid giving gift cards this Christmas. Either take the time to choose a gift…or if you really don’t have time, give cash!

Shedding light on another Internet rumor, this is Cindy Swanson, CyberSnoop…reminding you to check it out BEFORE you hit that “send” button!


Ann-Marie said...

Oh my goodness, I JUST got this e-mail. What a timely post. Thanks for clearing that up, Cindy! I think the Rockford Chamber was sending out an e-mail. Hope they were listening!

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

I received this one, too. I usually check snopes myself and then reply to the person, but I didn't have time for this one. So thanks, Super Sleuth Cindy --or whatever that title was! You're always so fun.

Randy said...


Well, I hope Barnes and Noble Bookstore doesn't go out of biz soon! I bought Rosemary a gift card for her birthday. I would guess that they would be solvent. But, then again, these days, who knows? Maybe I should have warned her to redeem the card quickly! Ha.


Barbara said...

I think the problem is the gift cards. Citibank is having problems. I have 3 - $50 cards my husband got from them with points he earned. He chose to get them for Penney's. I've had them about 1 month. I'm going to try and spend them tomorrow. So I guess I will see what is going on. There is a new Penney's in our area, but I do worry about them accepting these cards.

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