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Diegnan, Moriarty & Johnson: AmEx Pulling Gift Cards from Businesses in NJ Show Need to Reverse Christie’s Anti-Retailer Law

American Express has begun pulling its gift cards due to changes made to the laws governing the state’s treatment of unclaimed property by Gov. Christie

(TRENTON) – Assembly members Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., Paul D. Moriarty and Gordon M. Johnson today stressed the importance of restoring New Jersey’s unclaimed property law, following news that American Express is pulling its gift cards from New Jersey businesses due to the changes made to the law by Gov. Chris Christie two years ago.

Diegnan, Moriarty and Johnson are sponsoring a bill to reverse the Christie administration’s anti-retailer law governing state treatment of unclaimed property. The bill was approved by the Assembly last month.

“We worried about the impact the governor’s anti-retailer law would have and now those worries have materialized in a company pulling its products from New Jersey. This is a repercussion that our businesses simply cannot afford,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “American Express is the first company to pull their gift cards from New Jersey, but how many will follow? In order to protect our businesses and consumers, we must restore the law to its original intent.”

According to a media report, American Express began pulling gift cards sold through third-party retailers last week. As of today, the only way for New Jersey residents to buy AmEx gift cards, which can be used practically anywhere, is directly from the company.

“As evidenced by the decision by American Express, not all change is good. Our concerns about the consequences of the governor’s revisions went unheard. Now that the company has decided to stop selling its gift cards through businesses in New Jersey, maybe the governor and our Republican counterparts will listen and support our bill to restore the law,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden).

“The governor’s law has claimed its first casualty. The real losers however are the businesses who lose potential revenue under the revised law, and residents who no longer have the convenience of walking into a shop to pick up an AmEx gift card,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “Whatever its intent; the governor’s law has failed. It’s time to restore the original unused public property law.”

The bill (A-1871) reverses changes to the laws governing the state’s treatment of unclaimed property made as part of the budget signed into law by the governor in June 2010.

The bill would remove all references and the operative section for the state’s claim on certain unused stored value cards.

It would also re-enact the 15 year abandonment period for traveler’s checks and the seven year abandonment period for money orders, both of which were changed to 3 years.

The bill would restore the previous statutory standard of unconscionability for limiting service charges on traveler’s checks and limiting fees associated with a failure to redeem a credit balance, customer overpayment, security deposit, refund, credit memorandum, unused ticket and similar instruments.

Additionally, the bill re-enacts certain money order specific consumer protections that had been otherwise configured in statute by recent changes.

Lastly, the bill would grant the state treasurer emergency regulatory authority to implement this act and to reimburse issuers that reported unclaimed property under the recent 2010 changes, which would not have been due reportable otherwise.