Cookie banner

This site uses cookies. Select "Block all non-essential cookies" to only allow cookies necessary to display content and enable core site features. Select "Accept all cookies" to also personalize your experience on the site with ads and partner content tailored to your interests, and to allow us to measure the effectiveness of our service.

To learn more, review our Cookie Policy, Privacy Notice and Terms of Use.

clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Impersonal Personified: The Giftcard

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, sales, television, new shops, the recession, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls and getting blasted for Racked for over two years. Well, we think it's time you got to know him and his quirky-irreverent views on life and fashion even better with his column: Love, Frank. Taking the form of an open letter and always signed with love, Frank will rant about whatever style-related conundrum he encounters in a given week. So buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, it's going to be ? Something.

Nothing says lovin' like a Quizno's giftcard, via ORBA blog

Dear Giftcard Gifters,

You're not all bad.

Truly, more often than not, I'd rather receive a giftcard than a gift. Despite the fact giftcards tend to be a bit impersonal, not to mention the fact that they’re frequently picked up while waiting in line at CVS—they’re safe.

And maybe that's just me—appreciating the safe; but I’ve had a bit of a bad gift history. So the most generic giftcard (Walgreen’s) can be a real improvement over even the best worst gift ever.

I feel those on the receiving end of a giftcard can appreciate your candor. Not only your willingness to let a person get what they want when they want it; but your unabashed, if non-verbal, admittance that you don’t have time, don’t care, don’t know, just want to check that shit off your list.

Full disclosure, though: Giftcards are not without folly.

They can be a bit of a double-edged sword. First, you’re essentially forcing your loved one to spend just a bit more than your card is worth. Because, well, nothing is $25. While this is certainly a boon for retailers, it can add up.

Second, there's the issue of occasionally having to run a transaction across multiple plastic cards. This is especially a problem with those universal Visa or American Express giftcards at high-end boutiques. What invariably happens is: The clerk won’t know how to process it, they won’t realize they have to input the card’s value rather than just swipe it and/or not be familiar with the process of splitting a transaction between multiple forms of payment.

Next thing you know, it’s 12 minutes later, there are six people in line behind you, and the entire staff of the store is pecking at the register.

And me? I’m in a sweating panic because someone might think I can’t actually afford to even be in the store and I’m one of those ridiculous people who are unashamed of running a purchase—which, obviously, is already on sale—across a debit card, a Visa, and a dusty, old Discover, before finally paying the balance in cash (all singles, wrinkled).

Without even totally realizing it, I start making desperate, hopefully not unfunny comments to other line-waiters. I tell the staff to forget it. I try and help. I probably too loudly announce that getting rid of giftcards before they expire can be such a hassle. And when I finally leave I realize I haven’t exhaled in 30 minutes and have to go sit down somewhere.

But at least I saved $50 on a $400 Margiela cardigan! Thanks Giftcard Giver!

· Love, Frank [Racked]