One of the biggest pushes that you will see around the later half of each year is that of retailers and their gift cards. Gift cards are essentially a credit to a store that is void of any identification so it can be given to someone else as a gift to spend as they like.
I loath gift cards. I think that if it really is the thought that counts, gift cards are the closest thing to not thinking of someone. It’s an afterthought, a cop-out, a lazy checkout-line makeup call and the reasoning behind my stand isn’t completely based on my own upbringing or traditions.
Gift cards were created by retailers in order to skew sales numbers. They created them so they could sell a credit that could be redeemed any time of the year but paid for when they wanted. That way they would have a high revenue number for that time period yet still retain the same amount of physical goods in their store; it’s the perfect scam.
By skewing their numbers in this way, they can fool stock holders, management, whoever they like because they are basically printing money. A gift card to you is an interest-free loan to them that you aren’t even guaranteed to collect on.
Retailers do everything they can to portray gift cards as a novelty, a toy and anything but cash. They make it as difficult as possible for you to check balances, get customer support, know how much is on the card and if you lose them, there is nothing they can do.
Where do I get my information? I worked in retail for some time, around when gift cards really started to take off. We knew what we were doing and gift cards were the answer to bad sales numbers. We could attach them to anything as a bonus to get you to spend a little more and they almost guaranteed that you would come back to the store and shop some more, especially when we threw them in in small quantities. Giving a $10 gift card to a place where nothing was under $10 insured that you came and spent more money.
Then someone at [insert major credit card company here] thought, “wow this is working out great, people are giving their money to retailers for nothing, we better get on this!” and the gift card/credit card was born. This card is even worse than a traditional retailer credit card, harder to manage and comes with a fee to activate and reload! Who knew the perfect scam could get even better?
The worst part about all this? For some reason, we think this is a good idea! It’s almost as if the world has been brainwashed into thinking getting slapped in the face feels good. Please, can I have another? Retailers, the epitome of insincerity, are now who we look to for gift giving advice. How is that a good idea?
And the case against returning merchandise is flimsy. You give a gift card so the recipient doesn’t have to return to the store, wait in a long line and return the bad gift, yet you give them a gift card so they have to return to the store to spend it and wait in a long checkout line? What’s the difference?
To those of you that ask for gift cards; I know you are difficult to shop for, you are independent and hate returning things but open up a little bit to those around you. Express your interests and you may be surprised when you get something that completely blows away your expectations.
Cash has been looked at as a tacky gift for ages, but if that cash is put in a pretty envelope and tied to a specific retailer, it’s now perfectly acceptable. I’m saying stop! Stop giving retailers your guaranteed business. Stop falling right into their clever little trap. You can do a little detective work and find out what those on your list are interested in. You can show them that you actually care and know them just a little bit.
Do you follow the Pied Piper or walk to your own drum beat against the cry for effortless gift-giving?
Image by KE-TA br>