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In the state of Ohio when you purchase an established business do you have to honor gift certificates the previous owner sold?

Portsmouth, OH |

I received a gift certificate for a service at a local hair salon. I let a month and a half go by without using it. When I called to schedule an appointment I was told the new owner had taken over two weeks previously and was not honoring gift certificates from the previous owner. I was outraged. Not even a discount was offered to me - I complained to a friend of mine and he said in his home state this was illegal. Didn't know if Ohio had a similar law.

Attorney Answers 3


unless the gift certificate has an expiration date that has passed, the new owner should honor it. in ohio gift certs with no expiration date are redeemable any time (ohio revised code 1349.61). the sale of the business does not relieve the new owner of preexisting obligations. you may want to speak with a local lawyer who is well-versed in consumer law.

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It depends. If the new "owner" purchased a corporation or business entity--the entire business--from the previous owner, you have an enforceable contract with the beauty salon. If the new owner purchased only the equipment and is operating an entirely business, the new owner owes you nothing.

Most likely the situation is somewhere in between. I am not a consumer law expert, so do not know the nuances of the consumer protection statute and if it applies to your situation. Perhaps a consumer law attorney will see this question and answer it better than I can. There is one thing you can do: Contact the Consumer Affairs office of the Ohio Attorney General and file a complaint. They will investigate, and if it turns out the new owner has violated the law, they will most likely help you.

I would observe that if the new owner is so short-sighted that he or she wouldn't do anything to make a customer want to do business with the salon, the new owner won't be in business very long anyway.

Mr. Huddleston is an Ohio-Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law, with offices in Columbus and Dayton, serving client families and private business owners throughout Ohio. He may be contacted directly by phone toll-free at 888.488.7878 or by email CLH@HUDDLAW.COM. Mr. Huddleston responds to Avvo questions as a public service to help educate and provide general guidance to questioners, but his responses are not legal advice and do not create an attorney-client relationship.

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It will depend on how the business passed. This business, I am assuming, involved a purchase that related to all things in the business: equipment, space, and list of clients. If it is the same business entitey, example "Hair We Care," then without question "Hair We Care" should honor certificates. A client list passing should be a significant factor. Though, it may not mean the business should honor the gift. The Beach Waterpark in Mason Ohio had a comparable situation when it's owner closed the door after issuing season passes. You should contact an attorney in your area. Maybe he or she will write a letter on your behalf. The problem with seeking legal help is that this situation does not present much value unless this happened to many people who purchased gifts from this salon.

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