Mar 4, 2008

Sharper Image Gift Cards - The New Collectors Item

My intent was to lambast the mean corporations that cheated their customers out of a few bucks by refusing to redeem the gift cards they had sold them and turning them into collector items. As it turns out a gift card is “loan” to the company to be repaid in merchandise at a future date. So if you have a gift card the company is not allowed to “repay” your loan until the court decides who gets what. But then I have never heard of a bankruptcy proceeding where the customers who were cheated were also represented.

We need a change in the bankruptcy law that puts employees and customers before other financial creditors.

As it turns out the
Sharper Image story is interesting. Wikipedia takes a good look at the company along with some links to background stories. The building of this brand started in 1977 and their growth was based on adult gadgetry, soon after the Ionic Breeze hit the store shelves it dominated their product line. That same product turned out to contaminate the environment with the very agent that it was designed to remove; ozone. Law suits ensued and the Ionic Breeze was discontinued. With the loss of their numeral uno product to drive traffic to their stores a steady decline in customer counts and sales was initiated.

Journalists familiar with the company have estimated that they will shutter about halve of their stores. But at the time of the bankruptcy they only had $700,000 in cash, without significant additional funding they just don’t have the bucks to close only halve. They will be forced to do an over-night skedaddle leaving customers, employees and vendors on the hook.