Gift Cards May Come With Certain Limitations - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

12/27/04

Gift Cards May Come With Certain Limitations

Consumers bought $17 billion worth of gift cards this year, but you may want to redeem it sooner rather than later.

One woman returning two sweaters at JC Penney said she would've liked a gift card, "that would be better than this you know, you wouldn't have to bring this back. Just come buy what you need." Dozens of shoppers alike would have been much happier with gift cards, so they could take advantage of post-holiday sales. "Because, then I can just pick out whatever I want to," said one shopper.

Retailers like gift cards as well...it guarantees post-holiday business. JC Penney Senior Department Manager, John Forcey said, "we want customers to come in and redeem the gift card so we can get sales from them and also so they don't forget about using the gift card later on down the road." Therefore many retailers offer incentives, such as big sales immediately following Christmas because a gift card isn't money in the bag until it's redeemed.

If you have a gift card to the South Plains Mall, you may want to use that one pretty quickly. After a year, they charge you for every month you don't use it. One South Plains shopper said, "I think it's stupid because it's someone else's money they already spent."

On the upside, you can redeem a card from South Plains at 62 affiliated malls across the country. On the downside, the person who bought it pays a $2 up-front activation fee. Still, many consumers reluctantly give in to the limitations and buy into ploys, such as clearance sales. "I guess it would kind of motivate you to go in, but I still don't think it's fair you would have to pay extra," said the South Plains shopper.

Many people at the return counter wish they had just received a gift card. "I think a lot of customers are realizing gift cards is the way to go, especially to avoid all the exchanges," said Forcey.

Many gift cards have expiration dates, but not all. Each individual company has a different set of guidelines.

Getting What You Want Out of Holiday Gift Exchanges
More helpful advice before heading for the stores to return your unwanted presents.

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