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Abercrombie Fitch, Hollister Hit with Gift Card Lawsuits

Dec 29, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

Two major clothing retailers face class-action lawsuits alleging they dishonored their own gift card promotions following the 2009 Christmas holiday season.

According to separate reports at TopClassActions.com, Hollister Co. and Abercrombie & Fitch each held promotions during the holiday shopping season of 2009, offering “free” $25 gift cards to customers who spent more than $100 at their stores during a given visit. In fact, a $25 gift card was offered to consumers for every $100 worth of merchandise they purchased. These gift cards had an extra perk, they purportedly had no expiration date.

For thousands of people who took advantage of the promotion, spending the money at the stores then receiving the $25 gift cards, they soon learned the promotion was mostly a scam. They were encouraged to spend more at the stores than they may have originally planned (for example, spending an extra $20 to reach a new $100 plateau just to receive the promoted gift card).

Presumably, the consumers who purchased enough merchandise at these stores would give these gift cards as an additional gift or as a gift to someone else.

In each case, the retailers voided those $25 gift cards after Jan. 30, 2010, about a month after they were likely given as gifts. The stores either eliminated the total worth of the card or the remaining balance on it, despite promoting the cards as having “no expiration date.”

The class-action lawsuit against Hollister is filed in Circuit Court of the 18th Judicial Circuit of Illinois but states no restrictions on who can be considered part of the class. The legal action accuses the retailer of breach of contract because it devalued the gift cards offered through the promotion. It seeks “actual damages, court costs, prejudgement interest and other relief” for consumers included in that class.

The lawsuit against Abercrombie & Fitch is currently limited to Ohio consumers who made  purchases before the Christmas 2009 promotion expired. According to the report on this lawsuit, the gift cards offered at Ohio A&F stores specifically state they have “no expiration date” but because the retailer voided the credit included on the card after a specific date just a few months after they were awarded, it is “impossible for [Class Members] to receive the benefit of their bargain.”

Abercrombie & Fitch is accused of violating Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act in the lawsuit and it seeks “compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney fees and other relief” for those who took part in the promotion.

The lawsuit was filed in Ohio, where the retailer is located. It was filed initially by Beth Seaver, of Richfield, Ohio, who spent more than $300 at an A&F store in December 2009 and for her purchase she received three separate $25 gift cards.

The store’s gift card policy is printed on the back of each card and the last sentence in that policy on these specific cards indicates they have “no expiration date.”



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