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Monday, December 3, 2007

Gift Card Rip Off, A Rant by any name.

Gift cards are an easy and often thoughtful gift. What fries me is that the retailers act as if they are doing you a favor by selling them to you. Well over 10% of gift cards are never used. That works out to about an $80 billion dollar gift to the retailers. You would think they would be more interested in selling them to you, knowing that 10% of them will never be used.

I went online last night to purchase a couple of restaurant gift cards. I got all the way to check out for an Outback gift card when they added in their fee. FEE! They were charging me a fee to buy a gift card and charging me to mail it as well. I have no objection to any business making a profit. However charging a fee and shipping on a plastic card that 10% of will never be redeemed seems WRONG.

After much searching through many restaurant sites, I found that Olive Garden is waiving shipping for the holiday. Their card can be used at the Red Lobster, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 or any other Darden restaurant. The Olive Garden card NEVER expires and there are now zero fees. In addition, Olive Garden will sell cards at a discount, but most of us aren’t going to buy enough of them to be able to do that.

MetroMedia Restaurant Group doesn’t appear to every charge a fee or shipping. Best of all they have Bennigan’s, Bennigan’s Sport, Ponderosa, Bonanza, Steak and Ale, 29 Degrees Tavern, the Plano Tavern and the Southlake Tavern where you can use the card. No fees, no shipping and lots of places to use it. They have no dormancy fees, which some cards reduce the value for non-use, imagine that! They do expire, but then so do gift certificates. MRG cards have a minimum life of three years.

Gift cards are a nice gift, perhaps if we patronize those business that act as if they want our business and charging no fees for the privilege of spending money with them, the rest of them will start making their gift cards more attractive.


Rybu said...

I think you'll appreciate the post I made on unredeemed giftcards. I look at the astronomical numbers retailers are gaining after the chance a gift card will be redeemed becomes "remote". I also compare it to the amount a few companies pay in dividends to their share holders.

Let me know what you think!


Anonymous said...

I agree that they shouldn't be charging a fee, but it's not their fault that people may not redeem or fully redeem their gift cards. Give me a break, hippie.

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