• Report: #1147035

Complaint Review: Viva Terra

  • Submitted: Thu, May 15, 2014
  • Updated: Wed, July 09, 2014

  • Reported By: BG88 — Portland Oregon
Viva Terra
Internet USA

Viva Terra ,www.vivaterra.com, Refusal to honor Gift Certificates after a change in ownership of the company. Oregon

*UPDATE Employee: Response from VivaTerra International, LLC

*Consumer Comment: Inaccurate Report

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My wife and I were given $500 in gift certificates to www.vivaterra.com as wedding gifts back in 2010. On numerous occasions, we went to redeem them and were told that one of the certificates for $100 had been redeemed. But we had that certificate in our hands, and had not redeemed it. The customer service people said they would look into it and get back to us. On several occasions, they phoned me to tell me they were working on it. This went on and on but no one ever sorted out the issue. 

Once in a while I'd call them to find out the status, and they'd act like they'd forgotten about it and would look into it and get back to me. Again, this went on and on. 

This last week (5/13/14, 3.5 years after we were given these certificates), I wrote them and asked that they finalize this once and for all, and send us a refund for the $500. [continued below]....

..... (I knew they'd not want to do this, but I thought I'd try). 

I got this in return: 

"We are sorry to hear that you are having problems with gift certificates that you received off your gift registry.  VivaTerra  recently launched as a new company after being purchased.  The purchase was finalized, and the new company took ownership on April 1, 2014.  We have implemented new policies and procedures due to this change.  The new company has advised that they will honor gift certificates purchased from the old company from the date of 04/01/13 with a one year expiration date.   Our records indicate the gift certificates you received were purchased in 2010 and we are unable to honor gift certificates that were purchased prior to the 04/01/14 date.   We suggest that you contact the purchasers of the gift certificates and have them contact their credit card company.  We are unable to issue any refunds for purchases from the old company.   We apologize for any inconvenience this matter may have caused."

Printed right on the gift certificates in question are the words "Valid for purchases from VivaTerra - No Expiration Date."

When someone buys a company, they buy their assets and liabilities. So any outstanding gift certificates would go onto their liabilities. 

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, "In 2009, Congress passed the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, which set consumer protections for gift cards based on many state laws. The law provides that gift cards cannot expire within five years from the date they were activated and generally limits inactivity fee on gift cards except in certain circumstances, such as if there has been no transaction for at least 12 months. The federal law creates a floor for regulation and leaves room for state regulation on redeeming gift cards for cash and unclaimed property provisions."

WHile these are not credit card-sized gift cards, they are gift certificates, and the company name and basic product offering was not changed. Therefore I'm fairly certain what they are doing is highly illegal. 

If anyone has any insight to this, please contact me or post comments. A gift certificate is a contract, a promissary note to pay in merchandise the agreed-upon value. They are refusing to honor these, even though when they bought the company, they acquired their debts. 



This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 05/15/2014 02:42 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Viva-Terra/internet/Viva-Terra-wwwvivaterracom-Refusal-to-honor-Gift-Certificates-after-a-change-in-owner-1147035. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 UPDATE Employee

Response from VivaTerra International, LLC

AUTHOR: VivaTerra - ()

3/4/2014 VivaTerra entered into a transaction called an "assignment for the benefit of creditors" (or an "ABC") which means that the assests of the company were being sold to repay some amounts owed to creditors.

General assigment, or ABC process is similar to liquidations administered under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. However, California law controls the process rather than the Federal Bankruptcy Code.

3/31/2014 VivaTerra assests were purchased and company relaunched under new ownership 4/1/2014.

As a courtesy, VivaTerra new ownership is honoring gift certificates that were purchased on or after 4/1/2013 for a period of one year from the date of purchase.

These gift certificates were purchased in 2010. 

We suggest that the "purchaser(s)" contact their credit card company for additional assistance and/or direction.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.


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#2 Consumer Comment

Inaccurate Report

AUTHOR: 1234564321 - ()

As a consumer advocate lawyer who is also trained in business law, I would like to point out a few errors in the above complaint. 

The complaint states that their gift certificate was not honored when the business was sold to a "new owner". Here is a quote from the complaint: "They are refusing to honor these, even though when they bought the company, they acquired their debts." This is factually INCORRECT. The process that VivaTerra went through is similar to bankruptcy and thus there is no liability for the debts on the part of the "new" owners. Actually, VivaTerra LLC no longer exists as only the brandname and assets were purchased, so there are no "new" owners. Rather, the current brandname is under a completely new business entity. All of this is in compliance with conventional business practices and laws.

Additionally, contrary to what this complaint states, refusing to honor this gift card IS NOT ILLEGAL as the original business is protected from liabilities by federal and state laws.

While I understand that this consumer is frustrated. I would encourage him/her to first clarify their understanding of the facts before posting erroneous and misleading statements. In order for consumer advocacy to be effective, consumers themselves must first collect the correct facts and information. Inaccurate claims will only undermine the goals of consumer advocacy.

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