Why do gift cards expire?

April 29th, 2010

Hello everyone and welcome to another incredible episode of The Thursday Blog, packed fulled of anticipation, goodness and a $100 gift card to one of those stores that you don’t go to often (so you put the card aside only to discover it 2 weeks before it expires so you end up spending $100 on pillow cases).

That segway’s nicely into this week’s episode called:

Why do gift cards expire?

Birthdays, weddings, farewell’s and welcome home’s are all great opportunities to be given that universally recognised gift: “The Gift Card”

Before the invention of the Gift Card the world was really in a bad state. People had two and a half options. Option 1 was to spend hours thinking about something they would like and go and buy it. This sounds like the best option in theory but there are some complications that dampen it’s effects. It is fine if your best friend is giving you the present because they probably know what you want; but what about your strange Uncle Lou that gives you a calculator every year and says it is the latest technology and then screams “what is that” when your mobile phone rings. Option 2 was to give cash. This option was reserved for the elderly as a reward for many years of buying presents for their children, once they became grandparents it was all cash from there on. Also uncle and aunties who were interstate or in another country could use this as well for their nieces and nephews because no one wanted good present money to be wasted on postage. The half option is also cash and it could be used by those not in the categories mentioned above. This was cash given for a specific purpose, generally when the person wanted something large and expensive and might have to wait for Christmas and do a few more paper deliveries to get it. This was a golden way out for parents, relatives, and friends as there just needed to be a side comment “it’s to go towards that bike you really want”.

Now all these options still exist but the gift card has added a whole new dimension. Finally we have a quick and easy solution to getting a birthday present. Simply find out what store the person likes and get them a gift card. Better yet, if you can’t be bothered finding out what store they like, get them one of those network chain gift cards that can be used in a variety of stores, or at a certain shopping centre. This is what we call the machine gun approach. Come out firing with as many options as possible and hopefully one will hit the target that you can’t even see.

Suddenly the art of gift-giving has been thrown out the window as people flock to grab a gift card. But is it the the best option? It does have a lot of positives but it has one major flaw. Most of them have an expiry date.

This doesn’t make sense. Shops should be grateful that instead of someone receiving a gift of cash that can be used anywhere in the world, they have been given a gift that has to be used at that one store. So why do they only give you a year to use it? It is like your boss on payday saying “now don’t spend this all at once, but also make sure you use it by December otherwise I have to take it back.”

I am not a big fan of gift cards because I am constantly buying things from the stores that I have a gift card for and paying cash; and then realising later I could of used that stupid card I was given. This is all because the person thought cash was unthoughtful. Cash is not unthoughtful, cash is useful! Saying I have to buy something from a certain store or group of stores by a certain date is slightly unthoughtful. Saying I have to carry around another card in my wallet along with my credit cards, medicare (australian health system) card, driver’s license, and my 42 different rewards cards that I have only collected between 1-3 stamps each on (and have to get 7 more to get a free burger/sushi roll/sandwich/cookie/hot chocolate/dvd rental); is slightly unthoughtful. Why would I want another card????

There has to be another way. Well there is.

I have worked out a new way to get the reaction of the original giving, but the convenience and time-saving of the gift card. In some cases it can even be as good as cash. Are you interested now?

Step one: Go to one of those big department stores with a blanket return policy.
Step two: Buy something, anything to the value that you would spend on a gift card.
Step three: Give the gift with a big smile on your face.

The person will open the present and probably looked shocked. The chances are that they will not like your gift but they will give you that fake charity smile. But very soon their fake smile will turn into a real smile when they find the receipt with the note “feel free to exchange”. They can take it to the store and get something they like or even exchange it for a gift card or credit or they can even get cash for it. It is up to them. So instead of a gift card or cash you give them something they can turn into anything they choose; but it let’s them know that you actually care because you have tried!!!

Have Fun


This entry was posted on Thursday, April 29th, 2010 at 4:54 pm and is filed under The Main Event!!!. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Why do gift cards expire?”

  1. kirsten stellato Says:

    Hahaaha. About a quarter way through this article; I wondered ‘why am I reading this in view of my current daily activities that may need attending to; mmm, last quarter of the post, I was grateful for the advice. I was also relieved that for a free read, I was able to take a trip through an untraveled mind way; I gained a new strategy for birthday gift time in my household. Danke schoen!

  2. Dan lee-Archer Says:

    Thanks for sharing the journey of reading this episode.

    I hope the daily activities got attended to as well :)

    Have Fun.


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