Money matters

December 05, 2004

Gift cards may have fees, expiration dates

Gift cards are the perfect gift - they always fit, and never cost a fortune to send, right? But consumer advocates are cautioning that we need to be slightly more careful when it comes to such gifts.

In its December issue, Consumer Reports Money Adviser examines gift cards issued by both stores and banks and found that many come with fees, for purchase and for replacements. Also, many issuers impose maintenance fees and expiration dates.

Before you grab such a card for a friend or relative, keep a few caveats in mind:

- Check expiration dates and all fees.

- Use such cards quickly.

- Stick with store cards rather than bank-issued cards.

- Consider a cash gift. No fees, no expiration, and people really like it.

Americans fill out financial to-do lists

Affluent Americans have a small financial to-do list at year's end, according to a periodic survey of the moneyed class.


Nearly half (41 percent) said they will make charitable gifts before the new year, and almost a fifth (19 percent) will rebalance their asset portfolios, with an equal number planning to contribute to retirement accounts by then.

Almost 10 percent, projecting their 2004 taxes, planned to defer income until 2005.

The findings are from the quarterly McDonald Financial Group Affluent Consumer Confidence Index, which is based on interviews with about 800 people who have annual incomes above $150,000 and at least $500,000 in investable assets.

Company recalls snowsuits, jackets

Meijer Distribution Inc. is recalling about 14,400 children's snowsuits and jackets.

These snowsuits and jackets have decorative compasses and corded zipper pull tags that can come off, posing a choking hazard to young children.

The snowsuits and jackets were sold in children's sizes 2T through 5T and 12M through 24M under the brand name "Falls-Creek."

The snowsuits and jackets were sold at Meijer retail stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois from August to October. The snowsuits sold for between $15 and $43.

Consumers may call Meijer at 866-280-8419 anytime or visit the firm's Web site at

Swiffer vacuum cleaners recalled

Procter & Gamble Co. is recalling about 175,000 Sweep+Vac by Swiffer vacuum cleaners.

In some cases, when the vacuum cleaner is left in the "on" position, the rotor might lock up and cause the unit to overheat. This poses a smoke and fire hazard.

The recalled units are battery-operated, upright vacuum cleaners used to vacuum floors. They are about 4 feet tall and have a green base and silver pole. The name "Swiffer" is printed across the front of the base in white letters. UPC numbers included in this recall are 37000-46522 and 37000-02553.

Consumers may call 800-487-5915 daily between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. or visit to receive shipping materials to return the unit to Procter & Gamble and receive a refund.

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