Gift card consolidation deserves some exploring
By Naomi Ambrose, Staff Writer
For some of us, every week is gift card receival week. One week, we might get a $20 card from our colleagues. On week two, we might have received a $25 one as a token of appreciation for our volunteer work. Before you know it, you have a treasure chest full of them.
To save yourself the hassle of carrying a 20-pound purse full of gift certificates, you approach the barista, the cashier, or the server to ask whether you can transfer the credit from one card onto another. You have high hopes, but then you get this unexpected response: “Sorry, we don’t do that anymore. We don’t want to commit fraud.” I’m sure we have witnessed this scenario or heard this response at some point at a retail outlet. I recently observed this situation and then began to wonder.
Is it fraud if a customer is just trying to reduce the number of gift cards in his or her wallet? Who wants to walk around with dozens of cards from the same retailer? The point to take away in this consolidation situation is that the supposed fraudulent nature of gift card consolidation is questionable—if the customer’s sole intention is to decrease the weight of his or her purse, wallet, or handbag.
Maybe retailers can look at the act of gift certificate consolidation as an unconventional way to recycle. Although I’ve never seen the creation of a gift card, in this age of advanced technology I’m sure it’s possible to recreate, reactivate, reset, or reload one that previously had some credit. This reuse of previously activated gift certificates could eventually help to reduce the number of plastic items that fill up our landfills.
On the other hand, maybe some retailers are not concerned about the environment. Maybe the retailers are only concerned about generating profit. Consumed by their quest for profit maximization, some retailers may be quick to cry fraud—if a customer’s request may result in a loss of credit. If a customer wants to transfer his card balances onto one gift card, this request would mean that some would be left empty, without credit or balance.
However, retailers shouldn’t despair because the buying and receiving of gift cards won’t decrease, according to marketing scholar Dan Horne. In an article from the Journal of Consumer Marketing, Horne wrote, “Consumer interest in giving and receiving gift cards continue to grow.”
Horne states that many more cards will be used and sold. Retailers kindly take note: No worries if a few customers request to transfer their card balance onto one card, because your profit pot of gold still awaits you.