Rich Cullen: You wrote about gift certificates [April 12]. Well, the Walt Disney Co. has something like that called, ‘Disney Dollars,’ which is a printed currency that can be used in their theme parks and Disney Stores throughout the world. Of course, people use this currency. But many, especially ‘Disneyana’ collectors, hoard their ‘character cash’. Now how’s that for marketing?!”

George Berger: “My own pet peeve about gift certificates is that most of them have expiration dates. If you don’t use them within a year or two, the company gets to keep your money without rendering any services. I won’t buy them if they have expiration dates.

“A nice alternative I figured out is American Express Gift Cheques. These are basically pretty travelers checks, intended for use as gifts. I recently wanted to give a friend a Harry and David’s Gift Certificate, but since I wasn’t sure she would enjoy Harry & David’s, I instead sent her a gift cheque along with a Harry & David’s catalog. I included a card explaining that I was sending the cheque in lieu of a gift certificate (so as to make it seem a little less like just a cash gift), but explained that if there was anything else she would prefer to buy for herself she could feel free. She ended up ordering from the catalog, but this way she got to keep the change. (Disclaimer: Believe me, it is purely coincidence that I am currently working for American Express as a consultant.)”

Michael Roxborough:  “With the current market cap of etrade [about $12 billion last I looked, roughly triple the value of United Airlines], you could own controlling interest of every listed company on the stock exchange of Thailand. Would you like to own all of etrade or control an entire country??”

→ Well, would I actually get to control the country? Could I make all its citizens buy my books?


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