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Stop with the stare: Paying with gift certificates should never be uncomfortable for consumers

Gift Certificates, or GCs, are one of the best things you could ever receive as a, well, gift. You just go to its issuing store or establishment, exchange it for what it is worth, and be on your merry way.

However, there are occasions where the process can turn dreadful for some, especially when one gets the “stare.” Those who have experienced it will know–soon as you hand them the gift certificate, you get that uncomfortable look from the cashier, waiter, or just about anyone from the crew, which will get you thinking:

“Bakit parang kasalanan ko?”

It gets your mind racing. “Did I do anything wrong?”

“Was I not supposed to use those gift certificates in exchange for your products or services?”

For some, it can be an unnerving experience.

This is what influencer and brand ambassador, James Deakin, expressed in his post, that as of writing has already gained 52k reactions, 3.6k comments, and 6.8k shares on Facebook.

 

“A friendly reminder to establishments that offer GCs. Please please, please don’t give people “the look” when they use it to pay. You know the one. The “Ay, GC pala’ (Oh, it’s a GC.) look that makes them feel like a 2nd class customer.”

Deakin described how uncomfortable he felt after being constantly asked questions, saying that the whole process felt “so degrading”.

“The main purpose of a gift is to make the person feel special. And this type of treatment is the complete opposite of that. If you don’t want people to use them, don’t sell them.”

James Deakin added that what he encountered was an isolated incident, but his followers beg to differ, given how many Facebook users in the comment section were sharing their own personal horrors in using gift certificates:

 

james deakin gift certificate

james deakin gift certificate

james deakin gift certificate

james deakin gift certificate

james deakin gift certificate

 

The use of gift certificates should not be that complicated, but why do people always find themselves in this unfortunate situation of getting “the look” when presenting these pieces of paper or cards to merchants?

Gift certificates, under the Philippine law, are “any instrument issued to any person, natural or juridical, for monetary consideration, honored upon presentation at a single merchant or an affiliated group of merchants as payment for goods or services,” and could come in the form of “paper, card, code, or other device.” As long as the issuing establishment or brand is in business, gift certificates remain valid and should be honored. Some gift certificates do come with a list of terms and conditions that one must check before using, such as “valid for one-time use only” and “valid only on holidays and weekends,” but nothing really extensive that could actually negate the very value of the gift certificate. It could be that most crews or cashiers are never really trained on how to handle gift certificates as payments–hence “the look” + lengthy call to manager–in which case, establishments and businesses must make it a point to orient their staff so as not to embarrass both staff and customers.

Perhaps, these establishments and businesses can learn from other businesses that are known to handle gift certificate distributions and transactions very well. Take the case of The Bistro Group, which operates some of the well-known casual dining restaurants in the Philippines such as TGIFridays, Italiannis, Hard Rock Cafe, and Olive Garden, for example–their restaurant line accepts issued gift certificates at face value. Lisa Ronquillo, Chief Marketing Officer of The Bistro Group, shares in a nutshell their best practice that enables their customers to use their gift cards and certificates with ease:

Bistro Gift Certificates are accepted as another form of payment. They are good as cash. We accept them without prejudice. We already have a system in place and our restaurant staff know how to settle payments using our GCs. They don’t have to call anybody to verify their use unless they are torn or there’s a missing signature, which sometimes happens. Sponsored GCs are given to those with whom we have partnerships. We welcome their use so they can try out our restaurants.

As the message of the aforementioned statement goes, it really should that be easy to use gift certificates. It should not present an inconvenience to use them. If a business is not yet ready to distribute gift certificates, then they should not give these out. It’s really that simple. /VT

 

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