The recent closure of the last two Georgia House restaurant locations in Milford and Selbyville left many upset customers holding gift cards that were no longer worth the paper they were printed on.
It happens a lot in an area with such a strong restaurant culture. But what happens when you have a gift card to a place that winds up shutting its doors?
Mat Marshall, the Communications Director at the Delaware Department of Justice, sent us this in an email:
"If the restaurant owner filed for bankruptcy, a gift card’s balance becomes one of the company’s unpaid debts, specifically a ‘general unsecured claim’ – if the card owner chose to file a claim -- that would be in line after secured creditors and unsecured creditors with priority claims. If the owner shut down the restaurant, but did not file for bankruptcy, and refuses to honor the gift cards, the gift card owner could pursue a claim in Justice of the Peace Court. A criminal charge of fraud could only be brought in this or another case if there was evidence that a business owner accepted payments knowing they would be unable to deliver the service paid for."
So it looks like you might not be entirely out of luck. I heard from some people on air last week who had $75 gift cards to places that no longer even exist. That's not an insignificant amount of money--it might be worth filing a claim over.