I run adventure tours on west coast. I want to offer services in Ohio during summer (July thru Oct only), then resume out west over winter. I'd like to utilize online ticket vendors like Groupon to market our tours for these months. Ohio Revised code 1349.61 states gift certs cannot expire in less than 2 yrs, but we'll only be in area thru Oct 2012. Is there any way I can utilize Groupon and stay within parameters of Ohio law? My concerns are; 1 I don't want to oversell more tours than I can service, 2 inevitably some won't redeem - if they were refunded by Groupon would that satisfy 1349.61?
I am not familiar with Ohio law, but my initial thought is......are you really selling a gift certificate or is it a coupon or advance ticket or some other characterization that would allow you to get around this statute. I have purchased items off Groupon before and they all have limitations, including time limitations (can only be used during the months of X-X, etc.) so you may be able to impose similar restrictions. I also think you can limit the number of Groupon offers.
You also may want to shop around for these services. I know a lady who marketed her laser services this way and she said they take 50% of the price (so if you sold a tour for $150, they would automatically get $75), and that the vendor (you) only gets the money once the coupon is used. So if people do as you think and not redeem it, you never get that money. She could have been wrong in her understanding, but make sure you do your homework to understand how their services work.
Ultimately, you should discuss this with an Ohio attorney who may be able to give you more ideas as to whether or not you need to comply or ways around the statute.
Ms. Peddy Berg is licensed to practice law in Arizona and California (currently inactive); and her office is located in Scottsdale, Arizona. You can contact Ms. Peddy Berg by calling her office at (480) 382-3109; or contacting her through her website www.thepeddyberglawfirm.com. In accordance with AVVO terms and conditions, this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied upon. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship with Ms. Peddy Berg or The Peddy Berg Law Firm, PLLC. Each state has different laws, every situation is specific to its given facts, and it is impossible to evaluate and provide advice on a legal issue without first doing a full analysis of the facts and documentation via an individual consultation.
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I agree with Attorney Berg. Though I am not familiar with the Ohio law, I wouldn't think that coupons are treated the same as gift certificates. If the Ohio law is like California law in this regard, the "gift certificate" rules apply when someone purchases a gift certificate at full value from the relevant store, restaurant or other vendor. (It should be noted that in California, when that occurs there can be NO expiration date -- though companies that have issued unredeemed gift certificates have certainly gone out of business, which makes the gift certificate worthless.)
Moreover, the fact that you aren't offering services during a particular timeframe doesn't mean the coupon has expired -- there is just nothing available to apply them against -- which is different.
As my colleague suggested, you should check with an attorney licensed to practice in Ohio, but I don't think you would be running afoul of the Ohio code based on the facts that you have presented.
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