Friday, June 01, 2012

Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth

I heard that the meaning behind "Looking a gift horse in the mouth" has it's roots in looking at a horse's teeth to determine how healthy it is. Therefore, if someone gives you a horse as a gift, and you quickly look in it's mouth to see how healthy it is, that is kind of demeaning to the person who gave the horse. I was guilty of this today, but I think I was somewhat justified.

A family member gave my husband a gift card to "Macy's" store. We don't normally shop there because their prices are high. The only things I ever buy there are things I find on the clearance racks. My husband never had time to use the gift card, so told me to use it for myself. I decided to try to find something for him. But he is on the large side, and they didn't have anything in his size. I finally found two shirts that looked like they would fit, even though they were a size smaller. Alas, no, and I had to return the shirts today.

I knew they didn't have any shirts in a bigger size, so I decided to just return them. I had hoped that they would give me the money back, but no, they insisted on giving me another gift card. This was upsetting, because I knew they didn't have anything I could buy for my husband that he needed. I decided to do what he suggested and use the money on something for myself, and let him buy something another day. I found a pair of pants on clearance, and thought they would give me the leftover change. But it turned out that the pants were on an additional sale, and there was $10 leftover. The store would not give me that $10 in cash, so I still had a gift card.

I was really frustrated because I didn't want to pay their prices for anything, even though the money card was a gift. Finally I just went and bought some socks for my son, even though I normally wouldn't have paid that much for socks.

My parents have always said that they don't like gift cards very much because it's difficult for them to get to a town that has the stores where the gift cards were bought. At the time I thought they were also guilty of looking a gift horse in the mouth. But now I realize that a sick horse really isn't that great of a gift. ;)


Rummuser said...

This is more than just a small matter for Michael Sandel in his book, What Money Can't Buy. If you read that book with particular reference to the modern phenomenon of gift cards, you will be shocked at how much of Market thinking has gone into it and how big a racket it is now.

shackman said...
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