The Gift Card Quandary

Last week I saw someone post on Facebook that there’s a good chance that the “Nederlandse Boekenbon” (Freely translated to: Dutch book gift card) might disappear, because people are no longer buying them. Fear now rises that this will also influence book sales as a whole, which, of course, is a big problem for all book stores. This article got me thinking though. I personally despise gift cards and that’s why I decided to write this column about them.

Before continuing I will admit that I have given gift cards and money to people in the past, but it is not my preferred way of doing business. It all came down to my realisation that I found giving people a real, considerate gift is way more rewarding. That was about five years ago. I rarely give people money these days.

Gift cards are lazy gifts

Let’s face it. Gift cards are very lazy gifts, and what’s more, they’re worse than just giving someone money. By giving someone a gift card you’re forcing them to spend the amount on the card on a specific category of goods or services. I’m not saying giving money is better, because it’s still a lazy gift, but at least the one who receives it still gets to choose what to spend it on.

One other problem is that you’re expressing what that person is worth to you with a specific amount of money that’s displayed on the card. When you’re giving someone a real gift, any sane person should be able to figure out what it cost you, but it shouldn’t feel like that to them. It’s the effort that counts most, and gift cards are low effort, and cost zero consideration to buy.

Michael Scott Quote.jpg

Michael Scott knows his stuff.

What happened to putting effort into giving someone a gift?

That’s what I’ve really been wondering about. When I speak for myself, I keep a list of possible gifts for the people that are close to me. Whenever they mention something they’d like to have, I’ll make a note of it, so that I can consult my list of possible gifts whenever I need to buy something for them for their birthday, or any other occasion. It only costs me a couple of seconds to make notes like these, and the rewards are great, because on the one hand that person will think I’m considerate, and it gives me a wonderful feeling to make someone happy with a gift I actually put some effort into getting for them.

Should we feel bad that gift cards are disappearing?

I most certainly don’t. Maybe if they do people will start putting some effort into getting each other a considerate gift. I will keep doing that, because it’s an easy win-win. I’ll make someone happy with a nice, considerate gift, and I’ll be happy knowing I put a little effort into getting it for them.



Categories: Columns

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