Fun with Gift Cards in California

Have you ever, as a consumer, visited a retail outlet in California, armed with a gift card, and been told, when the balance dips to below ten dollars, that you are totally insane to ask for the balance in cash?

Happens all the time at Starbucks and Jamba Juice. For amusement, we used a gift card today, hoping to cash out as per California State law on a balance of $5.61, so we could at least go to Taco Bell and have a bite to eat. Lo and behold, the staff displayed complete ignorance that the statute even existed.

If you ever find yourself in this ridiculous nickel-and-dime situation, just cut and paste the letter below, which I sent off to Jamba Juice (as though I have nothing else to amuse myself with, right?).

* * * *

Dear Jamba Juice,

I visited a Jamba Juice outlet on Thursday, April 17, 2014, located at 4848 San Felipe Road, San Jose, CA 95135. My gift card contained $10.00, and my purchase amounted to $ 4.39. When I requested that the remaining balance of $ 5.61 be refunded to me, as California state law governing gift cards dictates, the staff at this outlet claimed ignorance, and refused to refund me the remaining balance on this card in cash.

I am advising Jamba Juice that according to Section 1749.5(b)(2), merchants are required by this statute in the State of California to “redeem or cash gift cards with balances less than $10.00 upon request.” It is my understanding that Jamba Juice is fully aware of the existence of this statute, and of the landmark case Marilao v. McDonald’s Corp. I have included an easy-to-read link defining the case for you that prohibits Jamba Juice and like corporations from being “unjustly enriched by (its) practice of refusing cash redemptions.” Please refer to this LINK for further information

Proof of my gift card and a copy of the receipt can be furnished to Jamba Juice upon request.


Karen K Samoranos

* * * *

I’ll let you know what happens. I sure could use that $5.61…



About karenkennedysamoranos

I am an author based in Northern California, and co-manage a small music education business specializing in jazz performance for students ages 5 through 18.
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