Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Probably my biggest pet peeve that doesn't have to do with my ex: redeeming book gift cards. For a person like me, these are the best possible gift. I spent $20 at Barnes and Noble the other week, and I have $40 in potential/future books sitting in my lap. So since Borders redirects to Amazon.com, I get excited thinking maybe I can use these cards there and not have to brave the mall to get books. So I look through the gift card pages, and find out that just like at BN, Amazon/Borders only lets you use one gift card per order. This is ridiculous. If my friends all know how I love books and we're using $5 or $10 limits on shopping, they know this is the best gift--but I have to drive a long way to find a Barnes and Noble or a Borders where I live (there is a Waldenbooks). So I want to shop online. I realize this does increase company income--if I have to pay for 5 orders separately with $10 giftcards, even if the orders are all exactly $10 there's none where they eat the shipping--and most people are either going to leave extra money on the cards, or shop over so they've sold more than the gift card--but, hell, I'd do that, anyway. In fact I'm more likely to spend $75 when $40 is from gift cards than when I have 3 $10 cards and 2 $5s, since that frankly just ticks me off and makes me less inclined to buy from the company, or at least its online incarnation.

Dear online bookstores,
You know your overhead is lower, and your discounts from retail often reflect this. However, the way you treat gift card users is cheap and underhanded, and there is no reason whatsoever you cannot take multiple gift cards per purchase or order. I work for a major restaurant chain, and gift cards are the thorns in the sides of every employee who has to deal with them--administrators, managers, and waitstaff in particular--but we sell them and we take them no matter how inconvenient the bulk. If you're happy to take my money if I buy these as a gift for someone, then you need to be happy to redeem them in a manner that's convenient and reasonable. These are your future, guaranteed sales, and if you make it inconvenient to use them just to keep a little extra in the company coffers, eventually a company will come along and point out that there's a better way, and no matter how big you've gotten, they will take enough of your business to hurt. Amazon's own gift certificates can be applied directly to a user account, with the total amount applied to purchases as the user desires, so why can't they set up their partnership with Borders similarly?

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