CardWoo: Gift Card Recycling
CardWoo: Because all the good domain names are taken
Long ago, Grog the Cave Man (Cave Person?) invented gift giving. He found himself with too much Mastodon meat after a New Years' Eve celebration. Grog knew his meat would spoil before he could eat it all. Instead of tossing it into the Olduvai Gorge, he elected to give it away.
History doesn't tell us the gift recipient or where Grog purchased his wrapping paper or if he included a greeting card. Overly bored historians insist that Hallmark stores were not yet invented, therefore Grog would have been limited to the limited selection of folded cardboard bromides at Walgreens and CVS.
Gift giving changed and evolved throughout the ages. Early pioneers on the American prairie fashioned dolls from corn silk. Hand-made items predominated until personal income exceeded personal outgo. An enterprising fellow named G. Roger McCaveman realized one day that the spare change in his breeches pocket could be leveraged to purchase a gift. Rather than spend hours building a stereo by hand, Roger simply strolled into the local CVS and selected a wonderful product from the As Seen on TV kiosk. Gift-giving changed forever.
Gift Cards Become Popular
Spending money to secure gifting paraphernalia solved many problems. Givers no longer spent hours lovingly crafting hand-made gewgaws and tchotchkes that would end up in dusty dresser drawers. Strolling into retail establishments with fistfuls of cash became the new standard of generosity.
Unfortunately, purchasing a gift actually required some foreknowledge of the recipient. Shoppers actually had to think about their target. Entire stores packed to the rafters with potential gifts presented both a blessing and a curse. The simple act of selecting a gift soon became overwhelming.
To the rescue came the concept of gift cards. Instead of actually knowing something about the recipient, busy (but still considerate) givers now had the option to stuff a colorful plastic debit card into a lovingly selected Hallmark card: problem solved. Some gift cards even came with custom envelopes, therefore obviating the need for third-party Hallmark cardboard enclosures.
Nothing could be easier. Actually, something could be easier. That 'something' turned out to be online gift cards. The advent of the Internet virtually eliminated the need for any human contact whatsoever throughout the process of gifting. Grateful givers simply browsed to a web site, ordered up a gift card, loaded it with cash, and directed it to be mailed to the unsuspecting recipient.
Gift Cards Miss the Mark
Alas, many gift cards simply failed to deliver the emotional cachet of a handmade corn silk doll or a custom painted necktie. Recipients found themselves in uncomfortable situations. For example, receiving a Starbucks gift card when the nearest store was over 2 blocks away presented virtually insurmountable challenges.
What could be done?
CardWoo Fills the Void
Modern technology once again intercedes to solve mankind's greatest problems. The website CardWoo.com joins gift card buyers and sellers, therefore eliminating the glut of unused plastic debit cards accumulating in desk drawers purses, and wallets.
CardWoo acts as a gift card broker. Laundering the cards on behalf of bored buyers and lazy sellers, the company reaps a tiny percentage of the value of each card that passes through their clutches. Should you find yourself in possession of Victoria's Secret gift card while concurrently thirsting for overpriced coffee, you may sell your card to CardWoo for real money, then exchange the cash for life-sustaining liquids at Starbucks. The choice is in your hands.
Does It Actually Work?
It probably works. CardWoo lists many cards for sale on their site. We observed a veritable plethora of gift cards for virtually any unemotional occasion. Evidently folks have been selling their unwanted cards to the good people at CardWoo for a discounted price.
The site offers many useful features for slicing and dicing the inventory of gift cards. We had fun sorting by price. Topping the list was a Callaway Golf Gift Card with a face value of $775, on sale for $682. That will pay for a putter or two. A 12% discount isn't a bad thing.
What's In There?
We found the steepest discounts applied to a gift card from something called "Metropolitan Theater". A $20 card was discounted 28%, reduced to $14.40. We don't know what's on sale at Metropolitan Theater, but given the wide reach of the Internet, certainly an avid theater goer somewhere in cyberspace will find this to be a wonderful opportunity. If the Metropolitan Theater sells popcorn and soda, this gift card might finance one attendee's gluttony.
CardWoo also lets us search their inventory according to 'Merchant.' Many national brands were represented on the day that we visited the site. Obviously, cards will come and go on a daily basis: checking back frequently will yield nuggets of bargain.
How does it work?
Send your unwanted gift cards to CardWoo and in return they promise to send you a check for real money. You won't realize the entire amount of the cards: CardWoo intends to make a profit from their benevolence. You can download a shipping label from the site or request a physical envelope to be mailed to your physical hands so you can fill it with your orphaned gift cards and mail it back again. Either way, CardWoo wants to see and touch your plastic money before making you an offer. It's the high-tech equivalent of a bartender biting down on a gold coin before accepting it.
You have 14 days to cash the check or ask for your cards to be returned. We estimate that 93.75% of sellers will keep the money. The allure of spendable dollars will prove too alluring for most people, regardless of the pound of flesh extracted by CardWoo as they expedite the process.
Your cards, actually the cards that were formally yours, become part of the CardWoo inventory. Someone else in cyberspace will give them a good home.
Is There a Downside?
Several problems present:
- CardWoo does not operate in real time. Exchanging cards for cash requires two trips through the mail. You mail the cards to them, they mail a check to you.
- CardWoo takes a cut. Profit isn't a bad thing, but don't expect to get a check for the face value of the card.
- Your cards are unavailable as soon as you drop them in the mail. Given that you're obligated to physically mail them back to CardWoo, you can't change your mind in midstream. Getting your cards back requires yet another round of mail exchanges.
Would We Do it?
We'd probably do it. We don't play golf.