What to do with a Wal-mart gift card?
November 15, 2009 8:40 PM   Subscribe

My daughter, for her fourth birthday, was given a $10 Wal-mart gift card by a girl with whom she goes to daycare. We have not shopped at Wal-mart for more than a decade and would like to keep it that way, and my daughter doesn't seem to care about spending the money. But I really don't want Wal-mart to end up with what would essentially be a $10 if the card isn't used. What should we do?
posted by nbergus to Shopping (41 answers total)
 
Donate it to the daycare?
posted by kthxbi at 8:42 PM on November 15, 2009


Or an organization that takes items for people in need
posted by kthxbi at 8:42 PM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


How about Gift Certificate Swap?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:43 PM on November 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't suppose you could cash it back?

You could also re-gift it.
posted by alshain at 8:43 PM on November 15, 2009


I assume that you don't shop there because you don't support their policies? Well, look at it this way: WalMart already has that money. If you don't spend it, they gain 10 bucks. If you do spend it, then they gain 10 dollars minus the value of whatever goods you buy there. So use the gift card.

If you can't stomach going there, surely you know a friend or family member who doesn't share your moral reservations. Give it to someone who will appreciate and make use of it.
posted by chrisamiller at 8:44 PM on November 15, 2009 [13 favorites]


Give it to a local foodbank or a place that provides blankets/hats/gloves for homeless men and women. It'll get used.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 8:45 PM on November 15, 2009 [17 favorites]


Donate it to a women's shelter, Ronald McDonald House, or any local charity. I'm with you on not loving Walmart, but giving the soup kitchen 10 worth of coffee will make some people pretty happy.
posted by theora55 at 8:45 PM on November 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Perhaps you could use the $10 Wal-mart gift card to pay for most of a $15 iTunes gift card from walmart.com?
posted by RichardP at 8:46 PM on November 15, 2009


Give it as a holiday tip to your letter carrier, newspaper delivery person, etc.
posted by espertus at 8:46 PM on November 15, 2009


Donate it to Planned Parenthood or a local LGBT center. Karmic balance.
posted by yellowcandy at 8:48 PM on November 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


I think most of the above can be summarized as "donate it to charity."
posted by zardoz at 8:51 PM on November 15, 2009


Karmic balance it is. Thank you all for the suggestions.
posted by nbergus at 8:53 PM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Save it and use it to help sponsor a kid's Christmas. You could use it to buy something off their wish list, or you could probably just donate the card to one of the charities. Sometimes the parents just ask for gift cards on the kids' wish lists anyway.
posted by lilac girl at 8:53 PM on November 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Since the question was "what should we do?," not just "what should we do with the card?," I'm going to address other aspects of this.

Rejection of a gift is up there as one of the big things that offends people/hurts feelings. Hopefully the little girl/her parents were warmly thanked for the card.

But also, what is the little girl going to think if your daughter tells her she/you didn't want the card, and gave it away? How is she going to feel?

Also, in our society, we give gifts to strengthen social bonds. The girl gave your daughter a gift, but isn't going to get that bond-strengthening.

Frankly, picking up goods from Walmart that Walmart has already been permanently paid for, does not help Walmart at all. The only possible benefit to Walmart I can think of is the marginal added amount of social acceptability you confer by appearing there. If you can't stomach that, then yeah, I think donating it is the best option.

But I think it's important to think of the other child here, also.
posted by Ashley801 at 8:59 PM on November 15, 2009 [20 favorites]


I really don't want Wal-mart to end up with what would essentially be a $10

It's too late for that, no matter how the card is used. There's no way for you to un-buy the gift certificate. So, WalMart having $10 is not a factor here.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:14 PM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


You should take your kid to walmart and let her buy something for $10.

Say "we don't usually shop here, but you received a gift."
posted by pseudonick at 9:19 PM on November 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


If you don't want to donate the card itself, buy something with it and donate that to charity. Then your daughter won't have to lie. She can say you bought x with it. She doesn't have to include the part about giving it away later.
posted by ishotjr at 9:22 PM on November 15, 2009


Ashley801: That's a good point and the reason I was concerned.

Jaltcoh: I understand that; I left out the word "donation." It should have read: "I really don't want Wal-mart to end up with what would essentially be a $10 donation."
posted by nbergus at 9:29 PM on November 15, 2009


Then, I think the best options are to either spend it at Wal-Mart (and as a serious anti-Walmart-ite myself, I don't think you'd be doing *anything* wrong there, whatsoever), or to donate it and give your daughter $10 "from Chloe" to spend wherever.

Really, when it comes to the donating option, what's the difference between a charity picking up stuff from Wal-Mart, and you picking up stuff from Wal-Mart?
posted by Ashley801 at 9:35 PM on November 15, 2009


Dittoing Ashley801. It's not like this was a gift for something illegal. Let your daughter spend it there, then send matching funds to support a candidate who might do something to help the working class.
posted by shetterly at 9:37 PM on November 15, 2009


This exact thing happens to us every birthday and Christmas. Father in law always gives gift cards to Wal Mart to our two sons. So twice a year they go to Wal Mart and try to spend exactly the amount on the card without going over or under.
posted by leetheflea at 9:42 PM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd try and talk to your daughter and let her pick a charity or someplace to give it to. There are lots of needy places at this time ( Christmas). If you can bring yourself to shop there ( I'm not so sure I could though), maybe pick something out and donate it to a Christmas Care or something similar.
posted by Taurid at 9:49 PM on November 15, 2009


FYI: Wal-mart does not have this 10 dollars.

Under Unclaimed Property laws, Wal-mart holds onto this 10 dollars. If you don't use it, at the end of a certain amount of time (1-5 years) it gets turned over to the state to give back to you. Or the woman who bought it.
posted by politikitty at 10:02 PM on November 15, 2009


You probably can't cash it in, but I bet you could get away with buying something for $10, then "changing your mind" and bringing in the receipt to return it for cash the next day. Then take your daughter to a better store and let her pick out something for $10 there.
posted by giggleknickers at 10:45 PM on November 15, 2009


Nthing donating it to charity. Local women's shelters and food banks are probably collecting similar cards right now (for Christmas) to give to women and families who have absolutely nothing. Many of us are lucky enough to think nothing of $10, but there are some people who could have no food, clothing, or access to health goods. I just saw that a local (to me) thrift store that benefits a women's shelter is looking for all sorts of gift cards to give out for Christmas, and I was just thinking that I should buy a few to donate. Local (to you) thrift/charity shops, libraries, and even restaurants and supermarkets might be collecting gift cards for the holidays right now. Or a church might be collecting stuff. Point being, it's never too early to teach children to care about those less fortunate than themselves.
posted by Mael Oui at 11:23 PM on November 15, 2009


Under GAPP accounting standards a firm can't recognize to revenue for the funds received for a gift card until goods or services are exchanged.
posted by Dr.James.Orin.Incandenza at 11:25 PM on November 15, 2009


Arg, that would be GAAP, not GAPP...
posted by Dr.James.Orin.Incandenza at 11:27 PM on November 15, 2009


Make sure you clarify your story with your daughter, here. Little kids aren't tactful and if your daughter says something about the card and how your family doesn't shop at Wal-Mart, this will get back to the other child's parents, who will no doubt interpret it as rudeness or classism and it will hurt their feelings, which is a horrible outcome for what was on their end, simply a thoughtful gift.
posted by twistofrhyme at 12:24 AM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


What happens in states where there is no expiration date on gift cards?
posted by june made him a gemini at 12:29 AM on November 16, 2009


I'm afraid I'm in the accept the gift, spend it at wall mart and get over yourself camp. I have all sorts of ethical views - but one of the strongest is that good manners trump a lot of things. So, for example, while I might always buy free range meat, if someone cooks me a meal, I'm not going to interrogate them over the source of their chicken and refuse to eat it if it's battery farmed. The same goes for WalMart gift certificates. Get something your daughter wants (do it online if you can't bear to step into walmart) and thank the givers nicely for their generosity. When it comes to returning the favour, you can buy them a gift certificate for a shop that sells Fair Trade organic yak wool shawls from a Nepalese women's co-operative or whatever.
posted by rhymer at 3:21 AM on November 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Jaltcoh: I understand that; I left out the word "donation." It should have read: "I really don't want Wal-mart to end up with what would essentially be a $10 donation."

Well, that's what I meant too, but apparently I was wrong. If politikitty is right, then you should just not use it. Don't even donate it to charity if WalMart is so horrible, since you'd be encouraging the people at that charity to keep shopping there. If the post has inspired you to donate to charity, do it directly.
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:44 AM on November 16, 2009


Little kids aren't tactful and if your daughter says something about the card and how your family doesn't shop at Wal-Mart, this will get back to the other child's parents, who will no doubt interpret it as rudeness or classism and it will hurt their feelings, which is a horrible outcome for what was on their end, simply a thoughtful gift.

This. I'm with those who say let her spend the card at Walmart. I understand your feelings about Walmart, but for many people shopping there is a necessity. This could really hurt the little girl's feelings if it got back to her. I don't think being socially aware is an excuse for being rude.
posted by weesha at 5:18 AM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the gift was probably given in the spirit of "this is something I'd like to have, so I'll give it to my friend." It's a really sweet gesture on the part of your daughter's friend. On some level, those interpersonal relationships trump political ideology. If it had been an actual toy or somesuch that was purchased at Wal-Mart, wrapped, and given as a present, would you take it back, or otherwise divest yourself of it?

Maybe you could strike a bargain with karmic balance by allowing your daughter to use half of the value for something she'd like (and there's plenty of $5 crap at Wal-Mart) and using the other half to buy canned goods or gloves or something for donation. That way, your daughter can report that she bought X with the card, and she can also learn a little bit about charity and giving back.
posted by Shohn at 5:29 AM on November 16, 2009


I'm in the "let your daughter pick out something she likes" crowd. It's not like it's Hitler-mart...

(And, it's *her* gift, not yours. There is plenty of time for her to develop her own retail-moral-code later. Let her enjoy it.)

I don't really care for Wal-Mart either, but I do occasionally shop there for certain things- usually their loss-leaders. And the one by my house is generally a nice store, not nearly as shabby as they used to be. And they take my used oil-change oil happily, which is a rarity.
posted by gjc at 5:47 AM on November 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


We rarely shop at WalMart for a lot of reasons (quality of goods and store location*, leaving aside any moral judgement) but Gramma gives the kids W*M gift cards every year, because that's where she shops. We go to the next nearest W*M (the closest one is one of the sleaziest stores I've ever been in, and I won't go there); spend the value of the gift card and as little more as we can (usually on name-brand stuff that we can be reasonably sure won't fall apart in six months), and go away for another six months until Gramma gives another gift card.

Go spend the gift card, thank your daughter's friend for the gift and the thought, and move on. If you know the friend's parents well enough, you may want to mention at some point that you rarely shop at W*M (no need to say why), and it was a bit of an effort to redeem the card.

(*) to get to the nearest W*M, I have to go past six discount stores, all of which have easier access to the parking lot from the road I'm on, and comparable or better prices. To get to the W*M I will shop at, which is in a different direction, I go past eight other stores. )
posted by jlkr at 7:00 AM on November 16, 2009


Give your kid ten bucks cash and take the gift card to the Murphy's gas station in the Wal*Mart parking lot and buy gas with it. Wal*Mart doesn't get the money, your daughter has ten bucks, everybody's happy.
posted by torquemaniac at 7:58 AM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seconding torquemaniac!!
posted by 2legit2quit at 8:35 AM on November 16, 2009


To get the most from it without giving Walmart your money, you should figure out what their current loss leaders are (items they lose money on but which lure shoppers), buy $10 worth of them, then donate the goods to a good cause.

But I'd probably just let my kid spend it.
posted by crabintheocean at 1:02 PM on November 16, 2009


I'm all for donating it, but if you want to go another route.... Know anyone in California? State law in CA requires retailers to cash out gift cards if the balance on the card is $10 or under. So if you have friends or family in California, send it to them and they can get the cash for you.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:35 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


> We have not shopped at Wal-mart for more than a decade and would like to keep it that way

I feel strongly about this for some reason and so I want to elaborate.

The reason I think you should go spend the $10 at Wallmart is because that's basic social courtesy you owe to the kind people who got your daughter a gift.

I understand not wanting to shop at Wallmart and generally directing your business elsewhere, but if you are maintaining some sort of not shopping at Wallmart streak, that can only be because to you it's about maintaining your status as a Non Wallmart Shopper. You not wanting to go is your concerns about class and social status, not the $10 going to Wallmart's coffers.

The right thing to do is go to take your kid to Wallmart and thank the other girl or her family for the gift.
posted by pseudonick at 4:20 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


> We have not shopped at Wal-mart for more than a decade and would like to keep it that way

Take your daughter to Wal-mart and allow her to buy a gift of thanks to her friend from daycare.

Also, I must agree with the earlier poster that indicated that it is important for your daughter to understand the social tact needed to live in a world where stores like Wal-mart are prevalent. As she grows up and develop socially, she will quickly be labeled a snob if she expresses that she doesn't shop at Wal-mart without having a justification.

Teach your daughter to be a gracious gift-recipient, and take her to Wal-mart to buy her friend a gift. Explain to her why you prefer not to shop there, and make sure she understands why it is important to express those opinions in a way that doesn't hurt or offend other people.

Or give it to a charity.
posted by Draccy at 6:33 PM on November 16, 2009


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