Wishing for Gift Cards

One would think that China would love gift cards.  In a society that deals with cash, not credit, it’s the perfect way to take care of an easy gift transaction.  It also shows a bit more forethought for the recipient than perhaps cash would, giving them a pre-paid gift to a favorite place.  Alas, this is not the case.  The best scenario is a gift voucher, but far from all locations offer these.  Even if they do, you sometimes have to play around with the words in order to get what you want.  I actually save the envelopes or extra vouchers to show store employees when I want to re-purchase.

Purchasing gift vouchers is one thing; redeeming them is another.

This time, I was on a quest.  My family won a RMB 1,000 cash voucher for a golf apparel store.  The valid dates of use were only two weeks long, so I didn’t have much time to get out, and I wound up using it on the last day before expiration. 

To find out where to go, I looked up the website…apparently under construction.  I e-mailed, called and texted the contact person on the enclosed business card, but never reached her nor got a response.  The enclosed brochure was mostly in Chinese, but did have several addresses on the back.  I assumed that these were where I could find the many locations of the store, so I ventured out with friends to find it.

The first place wasn’t it, just the business office location.  However, the next location worked.  It was there that we learned this wasn’t a storefront at all, but a brand name within a store.  First, we were told to go on the 3rd floor.  There, the 2nd floor.  Finally, we were told to go to the 4th floor where we found the small section of this particular high-end golf clothing brand. 

Much to my shock, there was only one item in the entire section under the value of my gift voucher.  Browsing didn’t take any time at all.  I found a color I wanted for a men’s golf shirt, paid with my voucher -- no change, of course -- and left (Happy Father’s Day, honey).  I felt a sense of accomplishment at the outing, like I beat the complicated system somehow.  There wasn’t much time to use the voucher, there was no easy way to find out information, and the selection was very, very limited.  But -- I did it, and I left happy.

I do think China could learn more about the whole gift card process, though.  It sure would make gift purchases easier on many levels, especially as returns and exchanges are especially difficult here.  Returns and exchanges – now that’s a completely different topic…