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Elf's Shelf: Giving Gift Cards

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They've been called the lazy man's gift. But for some Christmas shoppers, gift cards just make sense. "You don't have to return things, you don't have to wait in line, and also the after Christmas sales are a lot better so you can get more for that same gift card," said Robert Costen, who just bought a gift card for a co-worker. Rather than guess what she might like, he says he'd rather let her decide. "I know that she'll use this gift card and then come in and select something that she's really happy with," Costen said. He's not alone. Between 2005 and 2006, gift card sales increased by more than six billion dollars. This year major retailers like Starbucks are getting more creative. They've started selling custom gift cards--same value but with personalized designs. "Normally if I get just a gift card from someone I'm kind of disappointed," said Megan Henry, who works in a retail shop in Mayfaire Town Center. Henry says she understands that gift cards are usually more practical. But when it comes to giving, it's the thought that goes into the gift that counts. "Even if it's not something you wanted or you really like at least you know the person who bought it from you took the time to really think about you and what they thought you'd like," Henry said. For shoppers like Katie Fischetti on the other hand, gift cards are better to receive than to give. "I feel kinda like it's impersonal," Fischetti said. "Like I wasn't trying hard enough to get them something." "But I actually do like getting them." That is, only if they're for certain stores. "I have a lot of gift cards in my wallet that I've never used before," she said. In that case, they're like every other unwanted gift - quickly and easily forgotten. The National Retail Federation predicts that Americans will spend more than $26 billion on gift cards this holiday season.

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I don't buy gift cards

I don't buy gift cards anymore. It's a tactic to get the giftee to spend more than what is on the card. It's also easy to forget that you have a balance on a card when you have 5 gift cards to use, and after a period of time, a monthly "service fee" is deducted from the amount. One year I gave gift cards to a couple of friends who never even used them. I had very little money, and to discover a year later that they'd never used the cards really made me think twice about giving gift cards again. Gift cards are pretty, but you can put cash in a pretty card just as well, and no one will forget to spend cash.

Gift Cards, the not so perfect gift!

I recently received a $ 150 gift card from Best Buy, but when I attempted to use the card in Raleigh, NC, it was denied. The card was purchased from the Best Buy store in Cary, NC. They (Best Buy in Raleigh, NC) were shown the receipt, which they verified and then told me that I had to go back to the store where the card was purchased because it was denied. Does this mean if the card had been purchased in California, I would have been expected to travel across the county to get this issue corrected? Basically, they had no interest in determining what the problem was with the card. I returned to the Best Buy store where the card was purchased. (Yes, I had to drive several miles to another store!) They told me that the card was voided shortly after it was purchased. Of course the purchaser immediately contacted the credit card company who verified that the card's purchase price was indeed charged to his account. It had not been voided as the manager had boldly stated. After the manager was informed of this, he left to check information on their computer system. Why didn't he do this first, I don't know. He then returns and informs us that, yes, the card was purchased from them. He was able to tell me who the cashier was, what time the card was sold, who brought the card and what store denied the card. He had the entire history of the card on their computer system. He also told me that there was an activation problem with some cards purchased on that date. I asked to have the card activated or replaced, but they refused. Why, after all, he just informed me of an activation problem with some cards purchased on that date. I was told I had to contact a third party, because they don't actually back the cards that they sell, even though it has their name on it and was sold in their store. After three hours, I am finally told that yes your card will be replaced, but that it will take 10 business days. But what about the item that I needed that day, well you can purchase it now and come back later and use your gift card. This means I have to spend even more money in a store that doesn't seem to care about its customers. I of course you can't get your money back from a gift card, even if you are unsatisfied with the process. Gift cards are not a good thing, they just another way the man can get your money and then treat you poorly, because there are not cash refunds on gift cards.

Your not the only one. Our

Your not the only one. Our company bought $30 gift cards for the sales department but none will work; store says they're not activated. Since when do gift cards for a particular store need to be activated?? I sent your comment to the gal that purchased them so she knows what she's in for when trying to work with them but I'm hearing a lot of this is happening with BB cards. So frustrating. I can't believe that even with a receipt the person who gave you your card couldn't get their money back, afterall, it was a purchase and should be returnable for a refund just alike other merchandise.