Wednesday, October 6, 2010

One Stop

If you can remember from previous entries on my old blog, I have a love/hate relationship with gift cards.  From the beginning, I've always found them to be a bit of a cop-out in the gift-giving department.  Plus companies can put all kinds of restrictions on them (although they're not as bad as they used to be) manipulating the cards so that The Man makes money off of them no matter what.

And now you don't even have to go to the actual store or restaurant to purchase them.  Now, right next to the gum and the lighters in the impulse buy section of your local Mart of Darkness or Walgreens, there's literally a wall of them from which to choose.  Today I saw cards for the following:  Applebees, Starbucks, AMC, Red Lobster, Burger King, iTunes, Subway, Outback Steakhouse (Although I'm not being fair with them.  Because you can design your own gift card on their site! Totally personal that way), Dennys, On the Border, Chilis, Day Spa (Chain spas?  Really?  Of course, why am I even surprised?  The person who came up with the business model for these was probably hailed as brilliant), AT&T phone cards, American Express money cards and Farmville.  

That's right, I said Farmville--that game on Facebook where you obtain a farm and manage it.  That same Farmville that inspired 40+ pages of people starting groups entitled "I don't care about your farm" or some variation thereof.   The game is supposed to be free. And I guess it is, unless you want to upgrade your bovine and chicken collection. 

This trend of one-stop gift-carding strikes me at once brilliant, efficient, and pandering to American laziness.  Not only do you  not even really think about said gifts for recipients of all persuations, now you don't even have to do the legwork to obtain said not-thought-about gift.  Not to mention what it says about the trend of consumerism for the past 50 years: more and more we've been overrun by corporations.  I think that wall of cards speaks volumes on this fact. 

And I wonder what kind of deals Darth Mart and Walgreens are getting from having all these cards from other nation-wide chains on hand?  Because I can guarantee you they're not housing them out of their corporate need for philanthropy.  

Oh, by the way?  Costco offers discount gift cards.  


Carolyn said...

Another interesting way to look at gift cards is how many places can you connect to with just one card. There would be the giant pop corp, who owns this restaurant chain and that family restaurant chain and this fast food enterprise and this other fast food enterprise and ....

Aynatt said...

Interesting thought, Carolyn. There are Corporations that own several restaurants. For instance, Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, Long John Silvers, and A&W are all owned by the same parent company. It's like six degrees away from Kevin Bacon.

tuesday@11 said...

Gift cards are not bought by people who are lazy. They are bought by people who struggle with auto-immune diseases, like, Rheumatoid arthritis. I would love to not be in constant pain and feel like shopping for a special gift and then use my crooked fingers to wrap the gift.

Aynatt said...

Fair enough, Tuesday. But I suspect you're in the minority. And for the record, I buy them too. Like I said..."Love/Hate".