10/15/11 UPDATE: Facebook has updated it's Payment Terms. Facebook credits no longer expire. However, if unclaimed property laws apply to your Facebook Credits, they may be turned over to the state.
Earlier this year, major retail outlets such as Target and Walmart started selling the Facebook Gift Card. We just recently got around to reviewing the gift card and generating a Gift Card Score. There are a few important things to note if you are considering this product.
Facebook Credit Terms vs Facebook Gift Card Terms
The Facebook Gift Card is used to purchase Facebook Credits, the virtual currency used on Facebook to play games and buy virtual goods on Facebook. In short, the Facebook Gift Card does not expire or have any fees. Naturally, this is great to see. However, the gift card may only be redeemed in full to purchase Facebook Credits. After you redeem your gift card and convert it to Facebook Credits, the terms governing the value held by Facebook is significantly different.
Here are a couple of important thing to know when looking at the Facebook's Payment Terms:
- Facebooks says they "may redeem those credits by sending virtual gifts to your Facebook friends or donating the credits to a nonprofit organization of our choice..." if the Facebook Credits have been unused for three years.
- "If you deactivate your [Facebook] account and do not reactivate it within 6 months, or if you delete your [Facebook] account, you will lose any accumulated credits."
In other words, the value you place on a Facebook Gift Card could expire before the Federal minimum of 5 years.
I've sent a note into Facebook, but have not heard back. I'll update this post if I hear from them.
Gift Card Law Loophole
Such a policy begs the question: can a company circumvent gift card laws with simple semantics? Instead of calling the value held on behalf of the consumer credits and not dollars?
The laws covering virtual currency are unclear and on the cutting edge. In fact, Facebook is not alone in thier policy of expiring virtual currencies: While writing this post I received an email from iStockphoto informing me:
"This is just a reminder from us at iStockphoto that your iStock credits will be expiring soon. iStock credits expire within 1 year of the date of purchase. So the 2 credits that you purchased on 2010-10-01 will expire on 2011-10-01. "
That's just one year from purchase date. And while I never purchased a gift card to be converted into iStock credits, it's easy the similarities.
What are your thoughts on this matter?