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Never look a gift horse in the mouth: Making the most of gift cards and credit notes during lockdown

There have been several businesses taking advantage of the Coronavirus lockdown, some insisting that ‘the best gift’ is a restaurant gift card, an iTunes or Dymocks voucher, or anything else that can be ordered online and delivered to your door (delivered by a brave postie with kit gloves, of course).

But what about all those gift cards you already have stacked up in the third drawer from the top in the kitchen? The credit notes from K-Mart, Target and Big W that are set to expire in a fortnight? The gift cards for Myer and David Jones which will be ‘used by’ within a month?

Since we’re being told to avoid unnecessary outings, it would hardly seem sensible (or sensitive) to rush out to suburban malls with cards in hand, shopping for non-essential knick-knacks like lamp shades and camping utensils, especially when the food pantry is half empty.

So if you stayed put and waited till the chaos is over, will department stores do the right thing and offer fair grace periods to customers; extensions on their card expiry dates?

The short answer is yes, most will likely do so but it’s probably best to get in touch with the appropriate business to ensure your card’s expiry date can be extended. Sanity, for example, offers a grace period of about 30 days on a used-by gift card, with or without a pandemic in place. And smaller businesses, like beauty parlours and hair salons, are also usually generous enough to provide date extensions.

Keep an eye on your subscriptions and memberships, too, not just your retail coupons.

Check with your local gym to ensure that the one-year membership you’ve recently purchased isn’t going to waste thanks to gyms being shut down and you being shut in.

And the same goes for entertainment vouchers.

Palace Cinemas is offering all its movie club members extensions on annual memberships for the duration of the current lockdowns in place. All gift cards and passes will also be extended for the length of their cinemas’ closure. Palace is also sending out weekly newsletters to keep consumers updated with incoming film news, including confirmed release dates of movies that have been postponed.

It’s just one small way to (a) let customers know they are being cared for during tough, stringent times, and (b) see that the cash registers are operating again when this whole corona mess settles down.

If the supplier of your gift card or credit note isn’t automatically offering a grace period during current lockdown rules, see if you can try and use that credit up as soon as possible – perhaps by ordering goods online or even offering these to a friend who might need them more than you do. Use that Dymocks credit to buy a book for a friend who might be bored! Shout a meal for a friend in isolation using your Uber Eats gift card! The potential is big and the results so much better than wasted credit.

On the dining front, some suppliers who featured on Groupon and have been told to stop having patrons in their restaurants and cafes are still honouring Groupon coupons but asking customers to come pick up their order instead. It’s like Uber Eats with discounts, but you end up being your own Uber driver… if that makes sense.

Anyway, here’s hoping you have plenty to do while stuck indoors. We ourselves are keeping busy with cooking, yoga, painting, meditation, gaming, DJ-ing and dancing. Oh, and plenty of Netflix streaming. And on that note, if anyone is feeling generous, feel free to send us a Netflix gift card!

Antonino Tati & Lisa Andrews

 

MAKING THE MOST OF GIFT CARDS & CREDIT NOTES

01. Go through all wallets and drawers and sort out cards with valid expiry dates.

02. Contact each business and ask if there will be a grace period on the expiry date.

03. If none is automatically applied, ask if there can be for the duration of current lockdown rules.

04. If this isn’t possible, do your darnedest to use up that credit as soon as possible; perhaps by ordering goods online or even offering these to a friend who might need them now more than you do.

 

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