The Consumers’ Foundation yesterday said the restrictions imposed on stored-value cards issued by chain stores were “unreasonable,” with 60 percent of the stores it surveyed not allowing refunds of a card’s cash balance.
The foundation released the results of a survey it conducted from late last month to early this month on 10 stored-value cards issued by coffee shop chains, convenience stores and movie theaters.
Among the unreasonable restrictions it cited were that eight of the stores required a fee of NT$80 to NT$100 or an advance payment of more than NT$1,000 to purchase a blank card, and six stores set a minimum value limit for reloading each time.
In addition, seven of the stores claim no responsibility for lost cards and only two stores provide after-sales service for damaged cards, while others charge a fee of NT$80 to NT$200 for repairing or replacing a card, foundation chairperson Joann Su (蘇錦霞) said, adding that two stores did not even inform consumers of their surety obligation at purchase.
“Why do consumers have to pay an extra fee for the tool — a blank stored-value card — to establish a long-term consumer relationship with a store that will secure more profits from customer purchases in the future?” the foundation’s secretary-general Chen Chih-yi (陳智義) asked.
“We think it is downright unreasonable,” he added.
“The most unreasonable regulation is no refunds for the cash balance on the card. Consumers should have the right to stop buying from these stores anytime without loss of the cash balance,” Chen said.
Some stores stipulate that the value stored can only be redeemed for goods, not cash, he added.
“Add in the rule of a minimum value of NT$500 or NT$1,000 for reloading and it becomes even more unreasonable,” he said. “What if consumers felt they want to end their relationship with the store?”
The foundation called for changes to the rules to protect consumers’ right to redeem the remaining cash stored in the cards.
The foundation also encouraged issuing companies to charge lower fees for blank cards, Su said, adding that consumers should weigh the pros and cons of stored-value cards before purchasing one.