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Tony Zizza

Should This Christmas Present Be Returned To Sender?
By Tony Zizza
Dec 25, 2008 - 12:43:59 PM

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The cold weather and a plethora of other things tell me Christmas is just about here. I've lived in the South for over a decade. I'll tell you this. My blood has thinned out big time. The cold that reminds me I grew up in the North now chills me to the bone. A wind chill of fifteen degrees is extremely unpleasant in Tennessee. Up North, I guess those degrees could be called quite balmy.

Let's put aside the cold winter temperatures for a moment. With Christmas upon us, we face - let's just say - interesting decisions when it comes to presents sent to us by loved ones. In fact, you have to ask yourself if they really love you based on what they sent. Sometimes you have to wonder: What was their thought process in sending me this? I mean, the process appears to be anything but thoughtful.

While basic civility says you should be grateful for any present you receive, six words came to my mind yesterday when I opened up a Christmas card: "You got to be kidding me!" OK. I'm grateful for the present and a thank you card will be mailed out. But should this Christmas present be returned to sender? It's an American Express gift card that actually costs me $4.95 to use. What a system. And what a joke.

First of all, what's the deal with American Express? Why are they charging the recipient of their $50.00 gift card $4.95 once they try and purchase something with it? Aren't they grateful someone purchased the $50.00 American Express gift card to begin with? Something doesn't add up too nice. Perhaps the bean counters at American Express who came up with this asinine $4.95 fee are in cahoots with the lovely folks at Ticketmaster who tack on an insidious "convenience charge" in addition to the base price for each ticket purchased.

Second of all, why would someone buy someone else a gift card that comes with a fee? That is, the gift card amount really isn't what it is. Or is it? Well, the American Express gift card comes in a slick envelope that does state on the front in black and white there is a $4.95 activation fee. Merry Christmas, huh? Right.

Whoever has the audacity to purchase an American Express gift card for someone they supposedly love must be aware of the fee passed on to the recipient. Perhaps they don't care. That's a thought. Maybe they purchase a bunch of these gift cards to quickly complete their Christmas shopping. They use their own American Express card at checkout and await their cash reward on the very credit card that seals the deal.

Yeah, what a deal. We're right back to those six words: "You got to be kidding me!" A part of me does want to return this alleged Christmas present to sender on principle alone. Why should I be charged $4.95 for having received a Christmas present? It's almost as silly as AIG and GM receiving our tax dollars for their failures.

But I won't as much as I really want to. An old adage remains 100 percent true.

It's the thought that counts.

Tony Zizza is a free-lance writer who lives in Hermitage, TN. He writes frequently about popular culture. Email:

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