Tuesday's Tips: Gift certificates




Posted on March 10, 2010 at 12:25 AM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 10 at 12:25 AM

Tina Brown loves eating out and saving money.

"The economy is tough and everybody is trying to save a little here, and save a little there," she said.

In addition to buying coupon books, the SeaTac woman got turned on to a Web site called Restaurant.com. Users can buy gift certificates for a fraction of the price.

"So even if you go to a place where your dinner might be $100, saving $50 isn't that a good idea? To me it is," said Tina.

Tina bought a $25 gift certificate for a Kent restaurant called Gators. Price: $2.

"Told my friends about it, told my kids about it, and then I went to use my first one and that didn't work so well for me," she said.

Turns out Gators backed out of the program leaving Tina with the full bill. We contacted Restaurant.com about this and they admit they dropped the ball. They were supposed to take Gators off their Web site. To make it up, they gave Tina $25 for her to use at places that will honor them.

"I will definitely call ahead and double-check just to be sure so it doesn't happen to me again," said Tina.

We checked with the Attorney General's Office about gift certificates. In general, state law says there's no expiration date. But if a third party issues one without an agreement, that's different. The restaurant doesn't have to take them.

So, before you buy, call ahead to make sure your deal will be honored.