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Expiration dates on gift certificates

As the Raffle Organizer for Ganoksin, let me chime in here.

Many of our supporters give gift certificates. They also know that
by doing so, they will make customers. Your slow months has nothing
to do with a gift certificate. A customer with a gift certificate may
have no other reason to come into your shop unless they have it.

Again, create this opportunity as either a purchase out of your
inventory or as a deposit to something worth even more money. It’s up
to you how you treat your customers. It may not be the ideal
situation and inconvenient, but it is business. More important, it is
YOUR business. You could make an advertisement and have a special
showing of jewelry for gift certificate holders. Get your creative
marketing juices flowing!


School for Jewelry and the Metalarts
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
781 891 3854

It happens to us we honor what we say. For us there is nothing
worse than than having a workshop just make the minimum number and
then a person pulls out a certificate. It's part of business. 

Sorry, I just don’t understand that. The person already gave you the
money. In fact, you’ve been using it and probably should pay him

If I paid for a class which was canceled, I’d want my money back, in
cash, right then.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ

Donated certificates bring in 10 fold the cost in advertising that
you support the community. 

If this was true, we would be ROLLING in customers. Our store has
given away literally hundreds of gift certificates to charities over
the past 35 years of business, totalling over $30,000 in donations.
Not once in that whole period has a customer come into the store and
expressed that they came in from being exposed to our generosity or
civic-mindedness in making a donation. The only time that we even
see the organizers of these events is when they are looking for a
donation - never as customers. Of these donated gift certificates,
less than 5% have been redeemed for more than the face value - that
is, the recipients of the certificates had absolutely no intention
of spending even $1 over the value of the certificate. None of these
’customers’ has ever developed into a ‘real’ customer, willing to
actually BUY something from us for money. The only reason that we
continue to give, is that our owner has a soft spot for local
charities, even when she can’t afford it.

Lee Cornelius
Vegas Jewelers

If this was true, we would be ROLLING in customers. Our store has
given away literally hundreds of gift certificates to charities
over the past 35 years of business, totalling over $30,000 in

I think this might have more to do with the way you are giving out
certificates than how they benefit you. We have found it is far
better to focus in on one or two organizations and to give larger
amounts to them, rather than simply giving to anyone who asks. We
give heavily to the gay community and we do get back long term
benefits from that. For groups we feel pressured to give to, but that
don’t fall into our normal area of giving, we give very small
certificates that in effect force the owners to pony up some more
money if they want something from our store (of course it helps that
we pretty much don’t have anything for sale under $300).

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

Just one more comment regarding Gift Certificates: Has any
experienced the customer who can't find anything in your store that
suits them, but hand you the Gift Certificate you've issued (either
donated or paid for by others) and ask for money instead? It's
happened to me more than once. 

I carry work by more than 80 artists in my gallery…

How does one handle this kind of situation?

We are on the edge of a rural/suburban area, extremely diverse in
ethnicity/religion/employment/age/etc., without any causes
’important’ to a large part of the local community. We see mostly
fund-raisers for local families under hardship, high school sports
events, and very small-time events by small-time chapters of
national charities with limited local support. The gay 'community’
for this area is centered about 30 miles, 50 jewelers, and 4 malls
away, so that would be no help. We do cater to all income and
demographic groups, so our prices start at $6 watch batteries and end
in diamond jewelry in the low $20,000 range.

Lee Cornelius
Vegas Jewelers

Let’s use an example of a keystone markup on an item that retails
for $100.

In the case of a purchased gift certificate if you return the $100 to
the holder of the certificate you are giving up $50 in gross profit.
In the case of a donated gift certificate if you return the $100 it
is costing you an aditional $50 out of pocket over the $50 cost of an
item that could have been redeemed by the certificate. In the first
case you are, esentially, refunding the money, which, may, or may
not, make good business sense. In the second case, you are paying for
the privilidge of giving them the full amount of the certificate
back. I can’t think of any circumstance where I would do that.

Joel Schwalb

When you issue the gift certificate you need to print on it that it
is only redeemable for merchandise at your store. Get appropriate
legal language from attorney.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


Sorry for the late reply… I am so behind on everything lately!

Someone tried this with me in California. There was actually no
expiration date on the certificate. I won it in a contest and when I
went to redeem it I was told it was invalid by the sales person. They
wouldn’t redeem it for any amount (it was only a month after I
received it)

I stood my ground, having worked retail and knowing Cal state law on
the subject. Gift Certificates do not expire. The sales person
finally gave in after the she got the owner on the phone two times,
and gave me half value. Which I felt was not fair because it was a
gift certificate and does not expire. However, I figured I’d better
take what I could get.

I left with my “purchase” and gave it away as a present because my
experience in her store was so awful that I didn’t want a reminder
of it.

I reported her to the BBB and I wrote her a letter telling her what
I felt.

This is a local store and I will walk by it to go somewhere else
because I will not give her my money. I have told all of my friends
the story, and have let them decide whether or not they will
patronize her store.

I make an effort to tell good and bad experiences with retail
stores. But most people will tell more people about the bad stories.
Bad reputations spread quickly and are hard to fix. Make your
customers happy and they will bring their friends. Make these same
customers unhappy and they will tell everyone!

When I worked retail we would do giveaways, a “voucher” with
purchase during special sales… we called it a “voucher” or a
coupon, not a gift certificate so there could be an expiration date.
Got this idea from the big box stores like the GAP… “Spend $100 in
September and get a $10 voucher to spend in December”, that sort of
thing. It was a great way to get people to come into the store in
September (a slow month) and kept us on their radar for December.
Although, we did accept them at half value after the fact, even
though the coupon expired. This made everyone happy.


You should have taken it to Small Claims Court and gotten treble
damages…easy to do.

Wayne Emery
The Gemcutter