Monday, January 30, 2012

The Gift Certificate Story

When I lived in Columbus, Ohio at the turn of the century, the head of the organization where I worked gave me and my colleagues a $25 gift certificate to Columbus City Center. I worked at that particular organization for two years meaning that I received two $25 gift certificates. Between working several jobs and going to graduate school, I never made it to the mall before I left Columbus in 2001. Although I visited Columbus a few times since I moved to DC, I never made it to Columbus City Center. Of course, I also didn’t bring the gift certificate with me since it only seemed to appear when I packed before moving to a new place. Columbus City Center closed in 2009.

When I rediscovered the gift certificates last year, I noticed a card stating that “we will be happy to honor the enclosed gift certificate at any of these Taubman managed shopping centers.” It turns out that one of those Taubman shopping centers is in Northern Virginia. Score! Unfortunately, there was a note on the gift certificates stating that after three years of inactivity, 40 cents would be taken off the gift certificate per month. By my calculation, I would have needed to pay the mall in order to use the gift certificates.

Recently, I visited the Northern Virginia mall and took the gift certificates to customer service. They had no idea what to do with these paper gift certificates, so they had to take it to the important people upstairs (wherever that is). When I returned about 45 minutes later, the mall informed me that they accepted the gift certificates, but that I would need to exchange them with the current plastic gift cards. Although there was a $2.95 service fee to set up the gift card, I now have a $47.05 gift card to a local mall. Just think about how many slices of Sbarro pizza I can get with $47.05!

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