Recently, I received an email from Metropark, a retailer which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2011. The company's gift cards ultimately became worthless and this email was to announce Metropark was relaunching.
I did some quick research and asked if they were accepting Metropark gift cards; the answer was, no. According to their support staff, they are "a brand new company and do not have any records from the previous owners."
So, if you bought a Metropark gift card for Mother's Day last year, it's still worthless. While I don't believe the lack of records is why they are not accepting Metropark gift cards, I do believe this is a new company who is under no legal obligation to honor the old Metropark gift cards. In fact, it appears Skye Associates LLC purchased the assets of Metropark from the bankruptcy court.
This happens a lot when a company goes out of business. The defunct company's assets are sold to the highest bidder and the proceeds are used to pay off some of the old company's debt holders. The new owner of the brand leverages the company's history and brand recognition to generating sales.
Unfortunately, Metropark is also selling egift cards on it's website. And while it's not nearly as offensive as what Dish Network did when it started selling Blockbuster Gift Cards less than a year after all the current Blockbuster Gift Cards became worthless, it's in poor taste and not good for the gift card industry as a whole.
That's because it generates confusion for consumers and makes them feel ripped off. The reality is, consumers don't really care who owns the brand or if the company doesn't have a legal obligation to honor gift cards issued by the previous company. If they have a gift card with a Metropark logo on it, they expect the gift card be honored and it's a lot worse when the company is selling new gift cards while not honoring the old gift cards.
A best practice here would be to refrain from issuing gift cards after acquiring the assets of a brand from the bankruptcy court. Also, when acquiring assets such as a mailing list (they did send me an email), it would be good to ask for gift card records and be prepared to offer something to consumers when they present a gift card issued by the previous owner. It's also a good idea to document the policy and not simply use it as in internal policy to calm an outraged customers.