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A triumph of marketing - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

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A triumph of marketing [Nov. 3rd, 2005|06:36 am]
Zoethe
[Current Mood |gigglygoofy]

First came gift certificates: handy little slips of paper (and later plastic cards) that say to people, "Have a night out or a shopping spree on me!" (Or, to the more cynical, "I thought of you, but have no idea what you want, and this is a lot less crude than cash.") They were handy, but limited - you had to know at least one store where the recipient liked to shop.

Seeing the limitations of the trend - and not wanting to miss out on a chance to make some dough, shopping mall owners invented the mall-wide gift card. This was great. Now you didn't even need to know whether your giftee preferred Williams Sonoma or Barnes and Noble; all you needed to know was their vicinity to the mall of your choice.

But the pinnacle of brilliance has now been reached: walking past National City Bank's main branch downtown, I witnessed the new display going up in their windows the VISA gift card. Looks like a VISA, and you can stash however much cash you want in the thing and it won't make your back pocket bulge. Now you don't even have to know the recipient's zip code, and you can hand him or her a card with the word VISA on the front. How sweet is that?

There's a reason why places like Barnes & Noble and Mall of America love gift cards: they are known in the industry and "free money." People redeem them at a rate of 75-90%. Meaning a minimum of 10% of Free Cash to the business - not a bad profit subsidy. Why wouldn't VISA issuers want a piece of that action?

And what an opportunity for the cheapskate gift giver! You can hand out cards with $10.00 of credit on them and tell people it's a $100.00 card, betting that they will lose the card, or not have the gall to mention it. And if they do, you can feign horror: "Oh my god, I must've gotten the cards backwards! I gave the paperboy $100!" They'll feel sorry for you, and you will coast.

Just make sure you don't give ALL your friends the same gift...
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: raylenetaskoski
2005-11-03 11:59 am (UTC)
if you don't use it quick enough, a $100 gift card can turn into $10 real quick. some of them have like a $2 a month 'fee' if you haven't used it. Cala got one for $20 last year and by the time she used it it was only work $8.

It's a scam!

...raylene
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[User Picture]From: lacey
2005-11-03 12:10 pm (UTC)
Wasn't there a law passed awhile back that made those sort of 'maintenance fee' illegal?
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[User Picture]From: lacey
2005-11-03 12:13 pm (UTC)
I just love National City. Both of my bank accounts are with them, and they've never been less than stellar, at least to me. I remember walking into my local branch in June of 2003 thinking "What a novel concept! I hope it lasts" and I haven't thought about it since, but I love stuff like that, and am glad to see it HAS lasted. Good idea, for sure :)
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[User Picture]From: butterandjelly
2005-11-04 02:09 pm (UTC)
I got to go on my branch rotation at NCB the December after they rolled out these gift cards. let me tell you - they caught on like wildfire! I think I sold 20 of them to one person who was using them to give Christmas bonuses instead of carrying around cash. It's also neat to pay the extra dollar to have it personalized with the receiver's name on it, but you have to plan ahead for that.
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[User Picture]From: kibbles
2005-11-03 12:19 pm (UTC)
I use one of those myself. I like it.

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[User Picture]From: fujerica
2005-11-03 12:19 pm (UTC)
gift certificates of any sort are a GREAT moneymaker for businesses. At my place of employment, we sometimes have people redeeming gift certificates that we issued back in like 1997. (this is not a bad thing, it's just weird... they pull out this tattered card and ask if it's still good. Of course it is.) We certainly have WAY more certificates out than ever get redeemed, for sure.

In fact, my boss has been offering a 20%discount on gift certificates bought after 12/1 but before Xmas (and they are only valid AFTER Xmas) and she still makes the good money even with a discount.
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[User Picture]From: kibbles
2005-11-03 12:26 pm (UTC)
Every place I ever worked had expiration dates on them (or with cards, a fee after at least a year).

I'm suprised that there are one from 97 still floating out there.

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[User Picture]From: ladyortyger
2005-11-03 12:36 pm (UTC)
I love the pre-paid card idea, (Visa Buxx and the like) .. Manage spending (low fees) and accepted nearly everywhere -- and MUCH safer to carry around than cash. Quite similar to a traveler's check now that you think about it. And they're rechargeable and what not.

Me, I'd rather .. well do a lot of things than give out gift cards as gifts, bleh. How tacky..

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-11-03 01:38 pm (UTC)
Now, for me, a Borders gift card is a treat - it's like they bought me the whole store, until I make the decision - Schroedinger's giftcard.

And, actually, one of the best gifts Ferrett and I ever gave came in a small envelope with "For You" generically inscribed on the front. We gave it to friends who were new parents, and inside was a gift certificate for their favorite restaurant and a note promising an evening of babysitting.
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[User Picture]From: dreagoddess
2005-11-03 12:48 pm (UTC)
See, the Visa idea ruins the whole gift card love for me. Why? Because with a gift card, I have to spend it on something for me. Gosh darn it, I know I'm broke and need to buy groceries, but this gift card is only good at Barnes & Noble! Guess I'll have to buy books instead. But if I get cash -- or a Visa gift card -- then I feel obligated to use it on all the outstanding bills and necessities of life. Bah. Bring on the store-specific gift cards! I'd rather suffer through one or two to a store I hate (my sister used to always give me cards to HER favorite stores, Gap and Old Navy, where a woman with hips or a chest cannot shop) than lose the joy of spending on something utterly impractical.
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[User Picture]From: kibbles
2005-11-03 01:02 pm (UTC)
YEs you have a good point, I had an Amex gift card and wound up buying something completely boring with it, something I NEEDED.

When I had a Bed Bath and Beyond one I got this AMAZING stockpot, so huge you could cook a baby in it (or a small poodle)! I never would have gotten something like that on my own...or I would have debated about it a VERY long time.
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[User Picture]From: adjust_56
2005-11-03 12:53 pm (UTC)

don't give ALL your friends the same gift...

I have a nephews in other states that givig them a card like this works.....they can spend it wherever they want and I don't have to worry about mailing packages....LOL...yes it's the easy way to give a gift but I'm lazy@@
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-11-03 01:33 pm (UTC)

Re: don't give ALL your friends the same gift...

I am notorius for the "oh, crap I forgot about [name]! Well, there's always Amazon!"
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[User Picture]From: sobrique
2005-11-03 01:48 pm (UTC)
Here, have this token for $10 of cinema shows (regardless that they come in $5.95 doses). Or alternatively, you could use this token, that's usable pretty much anywhere, which we call a "bank note".

I can see why shops and stuff like gift tokens. Free money, guaranteed sales, and if they never use 'em, well so much the better. What I can't see is why anyone ever feels that a gift token worth £5 is in any way preferable to a bank note of the same denomination.

There is a website where they do 1 shot credit cards. That's kind of a cool idea. Credit it from somewhere, it generates you a 'visa number' with the account pre-credited and it's good for one transaction. Now that I can see uses for, but not in the land of gift giving.

Actually, there's a thought. Is a visa 'gift card' the best thing ever for money laundering?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-11-03 01:59 pm (UTC)
Money laundering. Now there's an interesting thought.
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[User Picture]From: ivorygrace7
2005-11-03 02:01 pm (UTC)
And if they do, you can feign horror: "Oh my god, I must've gotten the cards backwards! I gave the paperboy $100

ROTFL! I would never do that...but it is such a tempting idea...
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[User Picture]From: elfwench
2005-11-03 02:11 pm (UTC)
I don't understand this part:
There's a reason why places like Barnes & Noble and Mall of America love gift cards: they are known in the industry and "free money." People redeem them at a rate of 75-90%. Meaning a minimum of 10% of Free Cash to the business - not a bad profit subsidy. Why wouldn't VISA issuers want a piece of that action?

You mean the card doesn't have the buying power of the dollar value it's given? What? I'm confused.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-11-03 02:14 pm (UTC)
Meaning people don't ever bring them back - they lose them, or they use up a portion of them and forget that there's any money left on them.
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[User Picture]From: aehallh
2005-11-03 02:21 pm (UTC)
Those were actually out last year. At least, on a limited basis. One local bank had them, but you had to have an account at their bank to be able to get one. We'd checked because we thought it would be the perfect gift for our (then) pre-teen. Very hard to buy for, that girl can be. I'm hoping to find one more easily this year, though, with the increase in availability I've seen so far. =o)
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From: thetisra
2005-11-03 08:02 pm (UTC)
How weird. I had a dream about this very thing the other night, except it went something like this:

The MasterCard Infidelity Card!
That's right, a stand-alone credit card, "charged" with as much money as you'd like. Keep your mistress in the style she's accustomed to!

Fancy dinner out, while wife is home with the kids: $200
Jewelry on your lover's birthday: $1,000
The little wife never seeing a credit card statement: Priceless.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-11-03 08:13 pm (UTC)
You'd make a fortune.
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