An Interview with Pattie Dillon
Who’s on the grill today? Pattie Dillon, Director of Swap A Gift at GiftCards.com.
Gift Card Girlfriend, sits down with Pattie Dillon who oversees the buying and selling of discount gift cards for GiftCards.com. Discount gift cards are part of a booming secondary market that gives customers the opportunity to sell gift cards for cash or buy gift cards for less than face value. Some call the practice, “gift card swapping” or “gift card trading.” Pattie Dillon calls it, “an opportunity to save.”
GCG: The holiday rush is over for many of us in the gift card industry, but you seem busier than ever. What’s the climate like in the gift card secondary market this time of year?
Pattie: January and February WAS our Christmas. We shipped discount gift cards out nearly as quickly as they came into our processing facility. We have seen a growing trend in consumers buying gift card codes in favor of plastic gift cards, since launching the feature to do so last year. We have seen a very health spike in this trend and don’t see that changing.
GCG: Tell me more about the Gift Card Codes. Why the switch and what’s the benefit?
Pattie: Previously, when a customer wanted to sell us a gift card, they had to physically put the plastic in the mail and ship it to us. Then we, in turn, would mail the plastic gift card to the person who bought it. That method is still an option, but we have the technology to speed up the process turning gift cards into codes and transacting instantly over the internet, completely eliminating the need to package and ship eligible plastic cards. Last year we were granted a progressive Patent for our technology that accepts a gift card code and PIN, then deactivates the plastic gift card itself. We’re excited about the benefits this technology will provide our customers, clients, licensees and merchants.
GCG: That’s great because I love shopping with discount gift cards, but I don’t want to wait a week for the plastics to arrive. I’m not always thinking that far in advance. What prevents someone from selling the code to GiftCards.com and then quickly running out to use the plastic gift card?
Pattie: That’s a good question. We have fraud technology and process controls in place to prevent that from happening. Additionally, we have a fraud department actively monitoring all discount gift card activities, ensuring potential loop holes in the process are closed before we’re exposed. At service centers, we implemented a best practices process to assist cashiers in knowing what red flags to watch for and which gift cards to accept. Our guidelines are quite thorough and many of the service centers have adopted our “red flag” warning sign recommendations for the other transactions they complete.
GCG: When back to school time and other big shopping needs arise, I typically look at a couple of different sites to find the discount gift cards I want at the best price. Why should I consider GiftCards.com my first and only choice?
Pattie: Our gift card code technology allows you to plan, shop, and save all in the same day. Our fraud prevention technologies are patented, ensuring the best possible protection for our customers. In addition, we buy gift cards and codes from customers online plus service centers all across the country, giving us access to inventory some of our competitors just don’t have.
GCG: What gift cards are traded the most at GiftCards.com?
Pattie: Our inventory fluctuates, but this recent holiday season, Target, Best Buy, Home Depot, and Macy’s traded well. Overall, our top traded gift cards were:
|Top 10 Gift Cards Sold to GiftCards.com||Top 10 Discount Gift Cards|
Purchased at GiftCards.com
*Sears gift cards can be used at Land’s End and Kmart.
GCG: There are some surprises on that list. I would not expect to see people turn in Target cards when it’s so easy to shop Target. I’m also puzzled by the influx of JC Penney and Pier 1 Imports. Why do you think inventory on those ranked so high?
Pattie: As part of our best practices, we encourage our service centers to purchase gift cards that are in high demand by discount gift card shoppers. Target certainly fits that category and could explain why we received so many. Other times, we get a spike in a particular card’s popularity because of in-store promotions. Pier 1 Imports, for example, gives gift cards as part of their customer reward program. Last year we discovered JC Penney stores gave employees gift cards as part of an incentive program. We always get a bump in Victoria’s Secret gift cards during their semi-annual sale.
GCG: What about merchandise credits? Do you accept those?
Pattie: We announced late last year that we are no longer accepting merchandise credit gift cards. While some merchandise credits are acquired legitimately, others are obtained by returning stolen merchandise. We look at this effort as protecting our service centers, our business, and supporting our retail partners by not rewarding this type of activity.
GCG: What’s the best kept secret about buying or selling discount gift cards?
Pattie: I don’t think people realize how much money they can save by stacking coupons from our Instant Savings Club onto discount gift cards. Combining coupons with guaranteed savings from discount gift cards can be a fabulous way to save on purchases for clothing, food, entertainment, and home improvement.
GCG: I agree with you. I stack discount gift cards with store promotions and store coupons all the time. And it’s a great way to budget your spending as well. Now for the hardest question of all: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
Pattie: My Nikon Camera! I haven’t had it out nearly enough in the past 12 months, but it is such a great way to express my creative side. When I moved to Pittsburgh, although my family is much closer than where I lived previously, I’m still 3 ½ hours away from my closest relative. Photos help keep them closer.
Thanks so much for the interview and I hope your audience takes time to check out our sites for savings! We buy and sell discount gift cards on GiftCards.com and link those cards to coupons with our Instant Savings Club on MyCoupons.com.
GCG: Thanks Pattie!
Happy Gift Carding!
~ Gift Card Girlfriend (GCG)