Misleading gift cards


Last weekend, I tried to use a gift card at a local Italian restaurant. When I gave it to the waiter, he was rather puzzled, despite the card bearing the exact name of the restaurant on the front. Then, he asked me if there was enough money on the card to cover the meal, as if I was trying to trick them with it. Finally, he took the gift card away with the bill, and I assumed the issue was resolved.

I was wrong. A different waiter came back with our bill and the gift card. He explained that they could take the gift card to pay for the meal, but I had to pay the tip separately with cash or a credit card. I wasn’t in the mood to argue over it, so I complied with their idiotic policy. Later, I checked the fine print on the back of the card, and there was absolutely nothing about not being able to use the card for tip. So this policy wasn’t just stupid, but it was undocumented as well. Nice job, guys.

The right way to handle this is quite obvious. If you have special terms or restrictions regarding your coupons and gift cards, you need to make those clear right on the document or card itself. Otherwise, people will assume that your coupon or gift card works like everyone else’s, and that can lead to some seriously unhappy customers when it’s time to pay the bill.