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Apr 10, 2011 10:48 AM
Discussion -- Thoughts for a first-timer?

I never used certificates before, but when I saw a store promo (for Scott's lawn products, of all things) which kicked in a $100 credit, I thought that seemed like a good deal. Now I get home and online to register the credit, and I find two things disappointing:

1. The certificates are not like gift cards but instead a sort of discount card, whereby you get, say, $25 off of a meal, but only if your order is above $50. Now that I see the business model here--apparently the restaurants are not reimbursed, but instead eat the cost as their return on advertising through the site--I don't blame the restaurants (in fact, I pity them). But then, also,

2. There are hardly any restaurants I care to go to here! In the South Bend region (which for includes places even 30 miles away), there is only a handful of places, maybe up to 10 or so. I suppose I can hang on until I go to a really big city with more options, but this area has tons of restaurants, really, and I'm disappointed that so few are available to me.

Frankly, it's not going to be easy to use this credit in a way that I find immediately exciting. Anyone have advice about the best way to work the situation?

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  1. If therer are no local restaurants of interest adn you have no plans to travel, use the credit to buy certificates for friend and family in other cities and stick them in the mail with a note that says "I wish we could be dining out together, so think of me when you use this"

    1. I haven't had great experiences with It only seems to be a decent deal for higher-end restaurants, since most of the coupons cannot use sodas or alcohol towards the minimum purchase amount. I've also seen coupons / restaurant policies that automatically add up to a 25% tip on certificates,. or some where the credit is towards entrees only.

      I've also seen restaurants refuse to take the coupons people have bought there and should still be valid. I've called two places to make sure they take the certificate, and they said that they stopped taking them months or longer ago, but the won't stop selling the coupons.

      It never ends up being as good of a deal as you think once you factor in the cost of the certificate, excessive tip, and having to over-order and pay for drinks or appetizers separately.