‘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.