the daily doyle

Never Ever Ever Give a Gift Card. Ever
May 6, 2011, 11:27 pm
Filed under: Family stuff

Sixty-two percent of consumers plan to give gift cards this year. I looked it up. Gift cards are the most-desired gift amongst women. With men, they are not quite as popular, coming in at number three.

Gift cards are a big deal.

I am way out of the mainstream on this subject; in our house we never give gift cards. We rebel against gift cards.

Getting presents is fun. Giving presents is more fun, for me at least. I like the challenging game of choosing something completely unexpected yet welcome. Even if the gift is a huge failure, it can be really funny, and educational. Once I bought a sweater from the designer’s showroom in Milan for someone. I paid $270. She hated it. Never wore it. Wonder if she still has it. Many would say I should have bought a gift certificate to the Gap. Maybe. But then I wouldn’t have a story and I would have wasted that chance to learn what she liked and didn’t like.

A gift card just seems so pointless. If you don’t know me well enough to guess what I might like or you just plain don’t have time to shop, just skip it. I’ll take an honest hug over a gift card given because the calendar says you have to. I’m just not touched that you went to Publix and stood in front of that wall of gift cards and invested thirty seconds deciding between Bass Pro Shop and iTunes.

And how come somebody doesn’t just give money? Cash is the ultimate gift card, you can redeem it anywhere.

If you’ve ever given me a gift card, it’s ok – I do not hate getting them. I like buying stuff and I appreciate it if somebody buys me a gift card. But I’d rather have a regular gift, something you had to think about and stick your neck out a little. Even if the present wasn’t so great, I’d be happy that you tried.

I’ll be happy if every person who reads this article resolves never to buy another gift card. The above information should be enough. But just in case some of you are afraid to give up your crutch, I’m pulling out the big guns.

The retailers are screwing you with this gift card scheme.

First, once they convince you to buy their gift card, they get their money up front. You have basically become an investor in the store, but your investment never goes up. With inflation, your value actually continually goes down.

Second, the stores know that some cards will never be redeemed. People just forget, or they lose the cards. I looked this up too. A research firm, estimated the value of unused gift cards in the USA was about $8 billion in 2006. Eight billion dollars. In the same year, Best Buy reported a $43 million windfall from cards that are unlikely to be used.

Third, the stores know that you’re going to buy a little bit more than the gift card amount because you can never get a purchase to hit a dollar amount exactly. You may get a $25 gift certificate to Williams Sonoma and walk out with a $200 coffee maker. The stores know that it’s always good to get you in the store or on their website.

Do what you want with this information, but I have a request. Actually two requests. Search and find all the gift cards you have and go buy something with them. Then resolve never to send a gift card ever again. If you’re looking for something for me (Fathers’ Day is coming), I wear size medium and I look good in blue. I like anything Harley-Davidson and I like every kind of music. I LOVE food-related stuff. My point is, get to know people. Then you’ll know how to create the effect you want with a gift.

Mother’s day is in two days. No gift cards!



4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Wait a minute… wait a minute… I got hung up at the point that you said you had a problem with a Bass Pro gift card. What’s with that? I thought I knew you! I can’t even read on! Maybe later when I chill a little.

Comment by KarenH

I’m so out of step with the world on this gift card thing. I recognize that. It’s a difficult stance to take because I really wouldn’t mind terribly having a $500 gift card to BPS. You can wrap your mind around this one, I know you can. 🙂

Comment by doylemills

I have to admit that I gave people gift cards before. It was mostly when I had no time to think about a gift or didn’t really know the person. In most cases I prefer to give flowers or chocolates if I have no idea, but if someone is really important for me I would take time to make something for them, something cool and handmade.

Comment by Je

Hey there, totally agree with this one.. not a fan of Gift Cards…

Comment by Scott

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