Dundrum Shopping Centre Gift Cards: The Futility of Small Print

My wife received an email today. It was a round robin warning potential patrons of the Dundrum Shopping Centre that their gift token cards might not be all they seem. I usually ignore email round robins, on the grounds that they’re rarely accurate. However, this time it seems that Dundrum Shopping Centre themselves have confirmed its content.

Unlike other gift cards, which basically act as tidy plastic versions of traditional paper vouchers, Dundrum’s gift card has ideas about itself.

To quote the excited email

Basically when you buy one of these new “GiftCards??? you are CHARGED a “MAINTENACE FEE??? of EUR3 PER MONTH for the privilege of having the “GiftCard???. You are charged this fee every month (its deducted from the money you put on the card), from the second month [actually the third-SMcG] after the card was purchased and until the card balance reaches ZERO! (Unless you have paid an “INSURANCE FEE??? at the time of purchase – whatever next insurance for gift tokens!)

In other words if you bought a card at the beginning of the year for say EUR40 and didn’t use it til the end of the year you’d have very little left as most of it would go on the maintenace fee!!

Now two things seem clear from this.
Firstly, don’t buy a Dundrum Shopping Centre Giftcard.

Secondly and more generally that, even in an only partially online Ireland, information spreads. Hiding things in the small print, on the assumption that only one person in a thousand ever looks at it doesn’t work if that person can tell the other 999 people by the end of the week. This is a big change, and one that will have an increasing impact on whether Irish consumer businesses succeed or fail.

As one of life’s readers of Terms and Conditions, I salute the anonymous emailer.

UPDATE: Dundrum’s notice has changed since I first linked to it. When I posted this on Tuesday it confirmed that the €3 a month charge was being applied. Today (Wednesday) it says
“Dundrum Town Centre has negotiated for the removal of this recurring €3 fee on behalf of its customers and it will no longer be applicable to the card. This in no way affects the balance on the card and customers will be entitled the full value of card with no deductions.”

Now I take my hat off to our emailer. That’s a result.

UPDATE 2
: I love stories of companies promising you they’re committed to your happiness as they smack you in the face. It somehow verifies my sense of how the world works. So I wasn’t too surprised to find that Dundrum’s giftcard has been in the news before. Here’s the Irish Times from June of this year. (no sub required) I wonder if all the kinks have been ironed out yet, or will we have a sweep of well heeled disgruntled gift card holders popping up after Christmas?

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