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Just about all of us have been there at one point or another, we get a gift card to a store that is across town or one we don't shop at much, so we let it linger there in our desks, wallets, or purses. Then when we finally get around to using it, turns out our gift card had an expiration date!
Skype tried pulling that same little trick on their SkypeOut users, only things didn't go so well for the company.
It seems that those who had opened up a SkypeOut account, which allows users to make calls to landlines and cells unaffiliated with the service, but who had not used that money for 180 days or more, found it missing. Apparently, Skype had decided just to keep the monies. Apparently, lawyers for Skype realized that such an action might just run afoul of various recently passed state laws providing "gift certificate" protections to consumers.
In fact, the matter was settled out of court, though it seems unlikely the VOiP carrier would have settled if they had any anticipation of winning. The class action suit filed by Holly Barker and Brian Carness was settled on January 12th of this year. Users who bought SkypeOut credits prior to December 31, 2009 who wish to cash in can complete an internet claim form or can still retain their right to sue.
Of course, the company denies any wrongdoing as part of the settlement, which comes out to the tidy sum of $4.00 for each user so caught up in the practice. This ruling, however, only applies to Skype users in the United States. Users in other countries may wish to seek clarification regarding their own unused credits.