Fri, Mar 30, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Movie certificates given Hollywood treatment by CPC

GIFTS Movie certificates were exempted from new regulations on gift certificates which the consumer protection body approved yesterday

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Strong opposition from movie theater operators led the Consumer Protection Commission (CPC) to grant concessions regarding the redemption of movie certificates yesterday.

At a public hearing held at the Legislative Yuan yesterday movie theater operators and representatives from the CPC debated whether movie certificates should be considered as gift certificates and thus become subject to a set of new regulations.

A set of regulations on gift certificates were announced by the CPC yesterday in which issuers would be prohibited from setting an expiration date on the certificate and from limiting the locations where certificates can be used.

In addition, issuers will also be required to provide a financial institution as the guarantor for gift certificates, according to a news release by the CPC.

"Movie certificates are certainly different from other gift certificates," Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator John Wu (吳志揚) said.

"Gift certificates are considered as cash, which you can use to buy anything. But with a movie certificate, you can only exchange it for a movie ticket, regardless of the price," he said.

"If you don't limit the place of validity, people could buy movie certificates at lower prices in central or southern Taiwan, and use them at movie theaters in Taipei where ticket prices are higher," Wu said.

Movie theater operators agreed, while highlighting additional concerns.

"A lot of us sell certificates at discount prices during promotion periods, I believe it's reasonable to charge a small additional fee after the promotion period if people come with certificates bought at discount prices," Tsai Sung-lin (蔡松林), chair of the Motion Pictures Association of Taipei (MPAT), said.

In addition, Tsai said it would be impossible to find a financial institution who would be willing to act as the guarantor of movie certificates.

A statement from Chen Chin-chang (陳錦章), vice-chairman of the Bankers Association confirmed Tsai's concern.

"Unlike other gift certificates, movie certificates don't have a face value. No bank would be the guarantor of something that doesn't carry a face value," Chen said.

After negotiation with the deputy secretary of the CPC, Huang Ming-yang (黃明陽), who attended the public hearing, agreement was reached with the CPC agreeing to compromises regarding movie theater operators.

The compromises included charging certificate holders an additional fee after a set promotion period, allowing reasonable limits to where certificates are valid and allowing movie theater operators to discuss among themselves a solution to the guarantor issue, according to Wu's secretary.

"The MPAT, which has over NT$100 billion in its bank account, may be able to act as the guarantor of movie theaters," Tsai said.

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