Gift Cards

Exceptional Gift Card :)

‘Tis the season for buying people a bunch of crap they didn’t already buy for themselves because…well…it’s crap. I’m surprised Christians don’t skip Christmas to protest the fact that marketers have stolen their most sacred celebration. But I digress, that is not what this post is about.

For a long time I’ve loathed those little bits of plastic which had to be spent before the expiration date and could only be spent at one store. Gift cards. Several times I’ve found a gift card in my junk drawer and discovered, after an internet query or call to the cardcenter, that it had a $40 or $100 balance. Luckily I’ve never discovered this on the wrong side of the expiration date. How much money, I wondered, is left in the pockets of retailers when these balances go unused past the expiration date. Or how much do people not spend trying to get close, but not exceed, the card value? And how much money do consumers spend in excess of the card value?

You see, I don’t like shopping. I presume neither do the people who give me the card. The gift card compels me to shop. It also locks me in to a single retailer, in most cases. If I find an item for a lesser price at a competing store, I can not take advantage of the better price.

It’s a bad deal. What is the advantage over cash? We’ve seen the disadvantages. Do people really feel like they’re putting the effort of thought into the gift when they lock you into a single retailer? If so, it’s a stupid argument.

Do I sound like Scrooge yet? My apologies. You can imagine, then, how glad I was when a good friend of mine, Steven Pam, sent me the link to a blog post by Seth Godin regarding this very issue. Seth, it seems, pulled the words right out of my mouth. I love when people agree with me.

So please, send cash. I take checks, too. Better yet, keep your money. I don’t need any more junk.

4 Comment

  1. I’m sorry to say I disagree with you. Gift cards are the best. Last Christmas I got a $100 Victoria’s Secret gift card and it was sooo convenient. Cash is so… impersonal, and besides, I would have been forced to buy something I want.

  2. FYI-
    In the state of Maine, it’s illegal to put an expiration date on a gift card. On the other hand, the state is greedy and requires that retailers hand over 60% of unclaimed gc’s to them after 2 years (you may have heard of the controversy in the local news lately). Not sure what hoops one would have to jump through to claim the money after the state gets a hold of it.

  3. […] Gift Cards Brent Danley, The Rhetoric, November 27, 2007 […]

  4. I know in Canada they are getting rid of expiry dates for gift cards. Accept in Quebec. I think that gift cards are ok, as long as you put thought into buying one. You cannot know someones size when they are not with you, so why not buy them a gift card to get the shirt or whatever you wanted for them. Its better then having them return the item in the wrong size or because it was the wrong one or whatever. There is a website in Canada http://www.cardswap.ca where you can sell unused gift cards to other users looking for a discount. So there are ways of retaining some value from them even if you do not want anything at the store. I think it is priceless that the state takes the money in maine after two years. What if people use their gift cards after two years? Does the retailer just end up out of pocket?

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