>  If you have gift cards, hurry up and use them!!

If you fell for the most current scam being blasted over the internet and to an in-box near you…well, you are not the only one!  The latest web-hoax has hit the WWW and is scaring shoppers away from buying gift cards this holiday season by posting a very ominous list of retailers closing their doors.

Ann Taylor? Gap? Home Depot…could it be? Could all my go-to places to shop be closing their doors? Will my gift cards be worthless in the weeks to come? I was (as you probably were too) “warned” that over 30 of our favorite retailers are all closing shop and that we should NOT buy gift cards from them. As of January 1, 2009, they will no longer have a value. Over thirty companies – even our friend Disney.  Are you smelling a skunk yet? I am.

Come to find out, majority of this list is just plain garbage – a stunt, no doubt – concoted by a marketing genius at one of those gift card swap companies (or even credit card companies wanting to increase pre-loadead card sales). Moral of the story is, do your research and buy gift cards from stores you know and trust.  Truth in the list – sure, some retailers have closed – and they have made it clear for a long time coming – CompUSA, Sharper Image, Levitts…we have heard the bleak news for months now. 

To ensure I was giving my readers GOOD COUNSEL on this topic, I did some Nancy Drew sleuthing and got in touch with my friends over at Ann Taylor.  Here is what they had to say about their current state of affairs – which quite frankly, is good news and not anywhere near the doom and gloom as stated in the hoax:

Ann Taylor is a financially strong Company with a healthy balance sheet. We already communicated early this year that we are closing a number of stores through 2010, but we continue to open new stores and have close to 1,000 stores in our fleet. Ann Taylor and LOFT Gift Cards are a great idea for gifting this holiday, and they can be redeemed at any of our stores or online. Although the source of this viral email is questionable, we felt we should clarify the misleading information because we want our clients to always feel confident in their Ann Taylor purchases. 

With that said, I am hopping over to Ann Taylor and buying myself an early Christmas treat- a gift card…and I am not going to use it until January 2009 – the inside scoop is it will contain a bounce-back for 15% off my entire purchase when I use it. SCORE!

Our advice – hit “delete” when this e-mail invades your in-box and tell your friends NOT to believe the hype…Spread the word.

Drama should stay where it belongs – in the next episode of The Hills…not in your holiday shopping experience!

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