New California Law Spurs Change to Book Sense Gift Card Program

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Last month, California passed a new law that affects the redemption of gift cards sold by businesses within the state. California Senate Bill 250, Chapter 640, requires retailers to redeem for cash store gift cards or certificates with a cash value of $10 or less. The bill makes an exception for mall cards and donated gift cards and certificates, and it only applies to those sold in California.

Book Sense Gift Cards are, and have always been, consumer-friendly. The cards have no hidden fees or expiration dates, and the wording on the back of the cards has been crafted to provide each bookstore with the ability to comply with local laws.

To enable Book Sense gift card stores to comply with any law that requires cash redemption, ABA has worked with Givex (the company that manages the transactions) and the integrated POS vendors to provide a solution. A new transaction called Forced Cash Back will be made available to gift card stores in the coming weeks.

If a consumer demands cash back from a store that did not originally issue the Book Sense gift card, a store may refund the money using Forced Cash Back. Givex will handle the transaction via the monthly Compensation Report as if it were a redemption and transfer the funds accordingly.

ABA is working on timelines for launch, as development and certification will be required for the integrated POS systems (WordStock, IBID, Anthology, Computac/Square One/[I]merchant, and BookLog).

Booksellers that process via (the site designed for frontline booksellers at the cash/wrap) will see Forced Cash Back added in a few days. (the administrative/back room site) will also host the new transaction. Stores with stand-alone terminals will be contacted individually.

In the meantime, ABA offers this suggestion for handling cash back:

  • For gift cards (which are a liability, and not a sale, on the balance sheet), the bookseller should log onto the administrative site and adjust the card balance to zero.
  • On the POS/cash register, the transaction is typically called a Paid Out.

Questions about the Book Sense Gift Card program should be directed to ABA's Jill Perlstein at