THIS BLOG IS MY BLOG. THIS BLOG IS MY BLOG. Welcome to the Home of Hyperopia.: On the Gift Card Phenomenon - Part 1

Saturday, December 23, 2006

On the Gift Card Phenomenon - Part 1

So there is this new fad in gift giving sweeping the nation: gift cards. A search for the phrase "gift card phenomenon" on Google News turns up over 60 stories. Including this one in the Baltimore Sun and this one from a TV news station in the Twin Cities.

I got a few gift cards already this holiday season.

We had our "Christmas" with my wife's parents at Thanksgiving. And they blessed me with a gift card to Barnes & Noble.

And then I was at Barnes & Noble today shopping for gifts for my family and friends. And, being borderline frugal these days, I went into the store intending to use that gift card my in-laws had given me to make my purchases for people on my gift list.

But I didn't. I forgot.

Then afterwards I got to thinking ... if I use a gift card someone gave me to pay for gifts I am buying to give to someone else, wouldn't that be regifting (socially unacceptable in some circles)? Same logic applies to a gift of cash, I guess. Though cash is more fungible.

Someone gave me the gift card intending that I would use to buy something for myself. If I then use it to buy something that I am going to give to someone else aren't I effectively transferring the benefit of the gift given to me to that someone else? The exact same result obtains when I get a widget from my in-laws and pass it along to the next victim. I suppose it's a little different -- and a little more morally tolerable -- because presumably I don't actually want the widget (otherwise I would keep it) whereas with the gift card I could get anything I wanted so I am actually giving up a genuine benefit.

Unless it was a gift card to Bass Pro Shops or something ... because that store is for rednecks.


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