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The ethics of expired gift certificates

 
 
Mame
 
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2010 09:01 am
I either gave or received a gift certificate to a book store that had an expiry date on it. Who reads the small print (well, I will in future!) but is that not unethical since a gift certificate is basically the same as cash? Should they not tell you this at the time of purchase so you can opt not to purchase it or warn the person you're giving it to?

I received a pedicure certificate from a friend and didn't know there was a time limit and it had expired by the time I went to use it. There was no expiry date on the card, so they actually honoured it, but why would they have an expiry date? Cash doesn't expire, so why would these?
 
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2010 09:05 am
@Mame,
Was it a card or certificate?

They're not allowed to put expiry dates on gift cards in Canada now. Not so sure about certificates.
djjd62
 
  3  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2010 09:08 am
@Mame,
that's the great money making scam of gift certificates, not only the expiration dates, but the fact that a good number of folks never use them because they lose them, put them away and forget about them or are given a card to a place they might not want to shop at

i read an article once that quoted the amount of money in unused gift cards, i can't remember the amount but it was substantial
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2010 09:09 am
@ehBeth,
It was a gift card to a large bookstore chain. I was very surprised.
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2010 09:09 am
@ehBeth,
the article i read was before they stopped the expiry date on cards
0 Replies
 
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2010 09:10 am
@djjd62,
Yeah, I can believe it. I gave Alex one for Christmas and he still hadn't used it by the following September so I urged him to either use it or give it to someone else (preferably me - ha) in case there was an expiry date.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2010 09:10 am
@djjd62,
There's a great site where you can trade gift cards or donate them to charities.

hmmmm, maybe more than one site, but in an case, I think it's a great idea.

All those book store cards - donate them to a school or after-school kids' club

Grooming certificates - donate them to a woman's shelter or one of the agencies that helps people get back to work.

Brilliant.
manored
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2010 09:11 am
I think its better to give someone money than to give then something that can be traded for the gift, but its not the gift.
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2010 09:12 am
@ehBeth,
we're lucky in our family, can't go wrong with, Chapters, HMV or Teaopia gift cards
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2010 09:15 am
@manored,
the problem there is, will they spend it on a gift or just spend it, i realize it's their money to do with what they want, but at least a card means they have to get a physical object and not just piss it away on general things
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2010 09:21 am
@ehBeth,
ehBeth wrote:

They're not allowed to put expiry dates on gift cards in Canada now.


Good to know, thanks!
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2010 09:34 am
@Mame,
It varies by jurisdiction - Ontario did it in 2007, Alberta in 2008.

Some stores will now even accept old cards that expired before the laws changed.
0 Replies
 
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2010 09:35 am
I'm an atheist, I don't believe in charity, I never give anything to anybody.
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Jun, 2010 09:37 am
Stores make a huge amount of money on gift cards, which are essentially interest-free loans on your part. They take that loan, invest it, and make profits off of nothing.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
manored
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Jun, 2010 10:25 am
@djjd62,
djjd62 wrote:

the problem there is, will they spend it on a gift or just spend it, i realize it's their money to do with what they want, but at least a card means they have to get a physical object and not just piss it away on general things
But a card means thay they need to go to the shop and choose something, and, depending of the local laws, that may be even within certain time constraints. I dont want people to trouble themselves going somewhere and choosing something to get their present. Im the one giving the present, so im the one who should have all the trouble =)

dyslexia wrote:

I'm an atheist, I don't believe in charity, I never give anything to anybody.
Charity is not the only reason to give things. You may want to give something to someone merely because you like then, for example. Or maybe you want to encourage someone towards something.

I also dont believe in charity and... I dont remember then was the last time I gave someone a present =)

I dont celebrate holidays nor birthdays, so there is nothing to make me want to give presents except feeling like it.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Jun, 2010 10:33 am
@Mame,
Mame wrote:
I either gave or received a gift certificate to a book store that had an expiry date on it. Who reads the small print (well, I will in future!) but is that not unethical since a gift certificate is basically the same as cash?

I would have said it's basically the same as checks. And checks can have expiry dates, too.
0 Replies
 
jessicaCW
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2011 12:33 pm
@Mame,
Yes, unfortunately a huge chunk of gift cards that or given/received are not redeemed or are expired upon attempt. You really want to "use em before you lose em!" Basically for a $20 gift card that someone forgets about, the store just pockets that money and the only inventory sacrificed is a little plastic card... no wonder EVERYONE offers them!

I'd recommend always keeping them in your wallet so you don't risk forgetting about them in a drawer somewhere.. which has happened to me a couple of times!
0 Replies
 
smithsophia
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jun, 2017 04:54 am
Good to know, informative thanks.
0 Replies
 
giftcardsuite
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Mar, 2018 06:02 pm
I noticed this post is a little dated in 2010. But if your reading 8 years later lol today this is important to know.

I can't speak for other countries,

But in the United States its a law that gift cards can't expire. It was passed awhile back. So if you get a gift card from amazon or macys you don't have to worry about it expiring.

Its good for life Smile
0 Replies
 
giftcardsuite
 
  1  
Reply Sat 7 Jul, 2018 12:41 pm
@ehBeth,
Interesting. They have the same law in the United States.
0 Replies
 
 

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