Sunday, June 21, 2009

The difference between a coupon and a gift certificate

Over the weekend, I shared a limited time only deal being offered by World Market and Outback Steakhouse on my Facebook page.

According to its Web site, World Market was offering $10 gift cards to Outback with any purchase through Father's Day. As it read, that was a deal too good to pass up.

So, I headed to World Market today while the boy and his daddy were settling in for a nap. I found a fun kids' arts and crafts kit for much less than $10 and headed to the checkout.

I walked out feeling quite proud of my dealmaking, until I took the time to study the so-called Outback certificate.

It wasn't a gift certificate at all. It was a coupon, good for $10 off the purchase of two entrees. Nothing to complain about, certainly, but that wasn't the deal that World Market and Outback were advertising.

A coupon has conditions. A gift certificate doesn't. You should be able to use a gift certificate like cash and order anything you like.

Personally, I'd been hoping to use my $10 Outback gift card to buy my favorite meal there -- soup, salad and breadsticks. I was figuring on a free meal. Now, I'll have to spend more if I want to the coupon.

A $10 dining coupon is pretty generous, but it's no match for a gift certificate.


  1. I agree. I had a bad experience with a home repair company. When I got an email offering a $25 gift certificate to my choice at area restaurants to fill out their survey, I dove in.

    After bringing back the feelings of disappointment in the service, I was further disappointed to find that the "gift certificate" required a $50 minimum purchase.

    Later that evening, the home improvement company contacted me about the poor service I had received. I explained how the "bogus" gift certificate made me feel even worse about them. They were completely unaware that the offer was not a real gift certificate and apologized.

    I think that many businesses get roped into these promotions offered by marketing companies without reading the details. Pity it can result in more disappointment from already irate customers.

  2. I agree that's very misleading. A gift certificate is a form of payment; a coupon is a special offer (i.e. the two entree deal). I'll be Outback will be getting some negative feedback about this..may be worth your time for a quick email to them? Maybe they'll send you a real gift certificate!