DEAR ABBY: I bought my aunt, uncle and two teenage cousins gift cards from an online retailer a year and a half ago. I checked with them in advance to see if this might be something they'd use. Six months ago, I noticed in my order history that only one of the cards had been redeemed. I hate to see the money go to waste.

Should I call my relatives? If I do, what do I say? It's possible they just haven't gotten around to using the cards. Should I reprint the cards and send them with a reminder note? (Maybe the cards were lost?) Should I send my relatives a check and use the cards myself? Chalk it up to a loss? That one kills me!

I suppose if I hadn't seen the order history, I would never have known whether the cards had been used. What do you think I should do? -- CONFLICTED IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR CONFLICTED: Use the direct approach. Contact your relatives and tell them that while reviewing your account history, you noticed that three of the four gift cards you sent have not been used. Ask if they would like to have them printed out again, if by chance they were lost -- or if they would prefer you send them a check for the value of the cards.

To contact them isn't rude, and it shouldn't be awkward. In fact, it may be appreciated.

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