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View Full Version : RANT: What the hell is the point of gift cards?



Govtcheez
11-30-2004, 06:53 AM
On my way into work this morning, I was listening to the radio, and a commercial came on for Walmart. They had their standard line up of ethnically and age diverse-sounding people saying things like "I'm gonna buy my favorite video game!" "I'm gonna get the latest tunes!" "I'm getting some really cheap off brand cereal!" "I think I'll pick up clothes that fall apart after being washed once".

It was a commercial for their gift card, which they described as "the thoughtful choice this holiday season". That doesn't make any sense to me (especially at Walmart). If you really don't have any idea what to get someone, just give them cash, for chrissakes. Gift cards sell for cash value, so there's no savings either way, and it's just more convenient for everyone involved.

First, getting someone a gift card forces them to shop at one place. If they find something similar at another store for a cheaper price, they're just SOL, since I doubt Circuit City will accept Best Buy gift cards. Also, you rarely get a chance to use the whole value of the gift card. Have you ever gone to a store and spent exactly $25? $50? It's possible, but really rare. Most places don't give change until you're under a dollar left on there or something equally pointless.

For some reason, people seem to think that giving cash isn't very thoughtful. That may be, I mean, you didn't go into a store and say "oh yeah I think Bobby might shop here, give me that $20 gift card that's so conveniently placed right next to the checkout line so I don't have to look for it". Cash has way more advantages than gift cards; it can be split up and spent however or wherever you want. It's pretty and green. Strippers don't take gift cards. It's just as easy for the people working to process, too.

In summation, if you're not really going to put any thought into gift-giving anyway, just give cash, it's at least as thoughtful as a gift card.

GanglyLamb
11-30-2004, 07:08 AM
Totally agree with Govtcheez.

anonytmouse
11-30-2004, 07:11 AM
Companies love gift cards (aka gift vouchers).


People take a long time before spending them and the company earns interest off the money in the mean time.
People never spend them. They either lose them, they expire or they don't shop at the selected store. Company takes face value as pure profit. I would take a bet that this is surprisingly common.
As mentioned, people don't spend the exact amount. Either way, the company wins.
They force the consumer to spend at the selected store.

With all these advantages, you would think that gift cards would sell at a substantial discount. For obvious reasons they don't. Moral of the story: gift cards are a rip-off and a massive boon for companies.

Bah humbug: Gift cards that stop giving (http://www.consumerreports.org/main/detailv4.jsp?CONTENT%3C%3Ecnt_id=359187&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=162679&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=333147)

Govtcheez
11-30-2004, 07:13 AM
I didn't even think about either of the first two, that's a good point.

Gangly whenever you post I hear it read by Homestar in my head, heh.

ober
11-30-2004, 07:16 AM
Interesting indeed, anonytmouse. I agree totally with you, Govt. Gift cards are a bunch of crap.

Govtcheez
11-30-2004, 07:28 AM
I did think of a good use for gift cards. They're a really easy way for people to shop at online only stores. Amazon's the only one of these I can think of right now where it might be preferable to do that over cash, since they carry pretty much everything under the sun and draw prices from a ton of different stores. A couple months ago I got a book there that had a cover price of $50. I paid, I think, $11 including shipping, brand new.

adrianxw
11-30-2004, 07:53 AM
Here, we have several "gift tokens" which are for a type of item rather then for a particular shop. A "book token" can be used in any book shop which is a member of the scheme, (most of them), same is true of a "music token", they can be used in most "record" shops which these days also sell DVD, some still VHS.

Govtcheez
11-30-2004, 07:56 AM
I guess that makes a little more sense, but I still don't like the idea that you're locked into buying a specific type of thing.

How does redemption for those work? Is it just like 1 token = 1 book, regardless of price?

ober
11-30-2004, 09:04 AM
Well, here's another way to look at it. They could have just bought you something you really hated. At least this way, they're giving you the option of getting something you at least like.

Govtcheez
11-30-2004, 09:21 AM
Right, I realize that, but at least if they buy you something you'll hate, they at least, y'know, thought about what to get you.

With gift cards, they're usually right near or next to the checkout lane, so 90% of the time the person just picks it up and says "hey, now I'm done shopping!" At least with cash you're a little more flexible.

VirtualAce
11-30-2004, 09:39 AM
Ok cheez so which store do you want us to buy you a gift card from?

;)

adrianxw
11-30-2004, 11:49 AM
>>> How does redemption for those work?

Works like your do. You buy them to a certain value. The other objections still apply, but you are not linked to a particular shop/chain.

RoD
11-30-2004, 11:56 AM
i agree, but what about those visa checkcard things? Its a gift card "credit card" thats good like almost everywhere visa is.

Govtcheez
11-30-2004, 12:01 PM
Visa is accepted pretty much everywhere, but it'd be better if there a way to combine the remaining value with your other money.

B0bDole
11-30-2004, 01:02 PM
>remaining value with your other money.

at almost every store you can pay for stuff using a couple credit cards, or a credit card and some cash, or a check and a credit card.

Cash registers are set up that way. FME

Govtcheez
11-30-2004, 01:03 PM
That's a valid point, but it makes it a pain in the ass.

jlou
11-30-2004, 01:25 PM
Unlike cash, a Best Buy or Circuit City gift card has no chance of going directly into the joint checking account where it can be used for placemats or pillow coverings. Gift cards are great!

CornedBee
11-30-2004, 01:37 PM
What would be good would be a tasteful way of packaging money as a gift.

Thantos
11-30-2004, 01:50 PM
I would say origami :)

adrianxw
11-30-2004, 02:23 PM
Unlike cash, a Best Buy or Circuit City gift card has no chance of going directly into the joint checking account where it can be used for placemats or pillow coverings.

:D :D :D

iain
11-30-2004, 02:27 PM
>>What would be good would be a tasteful way of packaging money as a gift.

A jigsaw! - cut it up and pop it in an envelope.

(some form of sticky tape would have to be included aswell, which would provide an excitin gift to open, it would also while away some of those dull hours on chrismas day!)

Govtcheez
11-30-2004, 04:35 PM
What would be good would be a tasteful way of packaging money as a gift.
Put it in my wallet. Ta-DA! :)

Lurker
11-30-2004, 05:09 PM
If you don't know what to get someone for christmas, ASK them. Then get them money. I find it easier to crush the spirit that way.

B0bDole
11-30-2004, 06:43 PM
>If you don't know what to get someone for christmas, ASK them. Then get them money. I find it easier to crush the spirit that way.

I just ask them really excitadly, and when they answer I say "AH HA! hmmmmm, and rub my chin."

Then I don't get them anything at all.

The sign of dissapointment on their face is oh so sweet.

Govtcheez
11-30-2004, 06:45 PM
You tell them to rub your chin?

I'm suddenly unsure that the hundreds of miles between us is enough.

B0bDole
11-30-2004, 09:58 PM
>You tell them to rub your chin?
AHAHHAHAH

when a typo makes things REALLY different. I got a laff out of that one

KneeGrow
11-30-2004, 09:59 PM
I disagree, gift cards are important in many ways. It provides as a last minute resort if you haven't had the chance to buy a decent present. Also, it is more polite than giving cash because it shows that you've acutally undergone some effort to get this person their present. The person might not like what you got him so giving a gift card allows that person to choose. So what if its not exactly 25$ or 50$. If something is like $54 dollars, they spend only $4 cutting the burden off something they really wanted as well. So all in all, gift cards serve as good presents for not the closest of friends

Govtcheez
11-30-2004, 10:10 PM
> you've acutally undergone some effort to get this person their present.

BS. Whenever I'm in line at Best Buy I can just grab one, and when I worked at Blockbuster we were trained to ask people if they wanted them. It doesn't take much effort to say "sure"

prog-bman
11-30-2004, 10:29 PM
Dude you worked at blockbuster cheez.

Govtcheez
11-30-2004, 10:42 PM
Um... yeah, those student loans don't pay themselves.

PJYelton
11-30-2004, 10:56 PM
Gotta defend gift cards vs money, at least a little bit here. With a gift card you know its going to end up as being an actual gift assuming they use it. Give someone a fifty dollar gift card for Best Buys you know they will buy a cool gadget they wanted and possibly couldn't afford. Give them a fifty dollar bill and it'll end up being used for bills, groceries, etc.

But yeah, way better is actually figuring out yourself what they want and getting it for them.

prog-bman
11-30-2004, 10:58 PM
I was just saying that cause Im currently working there :)

ober
12-01-2004, 06:59 AM
Govt, I'd like to make you look funny for your statements now. I talked to my wife about this thread and she noted that you gave us a gift card to Home Depot for our wedding. And she also noted that we live in an apartment (not that it really matters to me... I can always buy tools). Regardless, your typing is wasted on the fact that you failed to meet your own requirements.

Heh.

Govtcheez
12-01-2004, 07:10 AM
> I talked to my wife about this thread and she noted that you gave us a gift card to Home Depot for our wedding.

Guilty as charged. :( I use my tools in my apt, though. Sounds like you've got fascist landlords.

I heard a commercial on the radio this morning for Bo Rics (which is a barber shop, for those without it in their area). The premise of the commercial was that two wives were going to buy gift cards for their husbands for Christmas. These people must be stopped!

edit:
> I was just saying that cause Im currently working there

I just applied there again for a second job






:(

VirtualAce
12-02-2004, 09:35 AM
I'm suddenly unsure that the hundreds of miles between us is enough.


You only think that there are hundreds of miles between you.

:)

B0bDole
12-02-2004, 12:07 PM
>You only think that there are hundreds of miles between you.

I'm pretty sure its at least a couple hundred.

ober
12-02-2004, 12:19 PM
Um... yeah, those student loans don't pay themselves.
Student loans! HA! You have room to talk... you had a full ride for 4 years! Imagine paying for your entire career (or most of it) on loans! :mad:

Govtcheez
12-02-2004, 12:27 PM
> you had a full ride for 4 years!

When was I going to find out about this?

(i had a scholarship, but it was nowhere near a full ride)

ober
12-02-2004, 02:41 PM
well... at least you had something :(

manofsteel972
12-02-2004, 02:55 PM
You should be more frugal with your money buy a savings bond instead of cash that way they can't touch it for years lol.

B0bDole
12-02-2004, 06:21 PM
>You should be more frugal with your money buy a savings bond instead of cash that way they can't touch it for years lol.

I would but I'm in college, in debt, and if I used my cash for savings bond that means I wouldnt be able to buy my Ramen noodles for a couple months . IE I would starve.

ober
12-03-2004, 07:22 AM
IE I would starve.I fail to see the problem here. :confused:

major_small
12-03-2004, 07:43 AM
It provides as a last minute resort if you haven't had the chance to buy a decent present. Also, it is more polite than giving cash because it shows that you've acutally undergone some effort to get this person their present.
haha... I feel bad for your friends and family if you think last minute == effort...

gift cards are pointless... a gift check or visa gift card are not as bad, but if you really don't know what to get somebody, throw some money in a card.

if it comes down to paying my bills and living in an apartment or going to walmart with a giftcard to buy a CD I always wanted, I think the apartment would keep me warmer. I'm sure if you cared you'd rather have me under a roof than listening to a cd outside in the snow until th e batteries on my player died... or would you get me another gift card for batteries because you felt bad?