Regular readers will know I like Fat Face. Casual clothes, watch some of the patterned excesses if you're my age but good quality, nice design. You get the picture. So I went online to the site and found they had a rather nice pair of black Chelsea Boots (I'd have preferred the brown but they'd sold out, fair enough). Casual, slightly beaten-up looking, really nice for casual wear.
I haven't got them though. And why not? Because like so many other retailers they don't allow you to use gift cards over the Internet when the cards were bought in a shop. This is far from unique to Fat Face. Last year I had a WH Smith gift card (by now a useless shop I'm afraid; when I asked on the week of its release whether they had the Blu-Ray of "The King's Speech" they didn't, whereas every other DVD retailer in the universe had made damned sure they had loads - WH hadn't even stocked it in the first place) and once again, I could only use it in actual premises.
I'm sure there are technical reasons it's difficult to have a preloaded and top-uppable card working online. No doubt someone from IT would be able to explain it to me.
But as a tech journalist since 1989 guess what - I don't care. If you're a High Street retailer you're going to be under threat by now from the online world, and if you have an online presence as well then your gift tokens need to work seamlessly - or else I'm going to start buying my gift tokens elsewhere next year.
A stereotype says men hate shopping. Personally I don't - but I do like a business to accept genuine money when I offer it regardless of the channel. It's now 2012 - retailers, your New Year's resolution needs to be to make buying with you a seamless experience, whether the customer is in front of the computer, on a smartphone or in your shop.