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CoinStar and Amazon.com. Two great tastes that taste great together.
We did a Secret Santa thing on the Lakanen side of the family this year. Candy and I ended up having to buy presents for my cousins Linda and Brin, who live up at The Farm in Negaunee, Michigan. I talked to both of them and got some ideas about what they wanted, but by the time I needed to make a decision, I still wasn't sure what would be best. So I opted for America's favorite backup plan: gift certificates.
But I ran into a little problem. Fortunately, though, I MacGuyver'ed my out of it, by doing what my friend Richard called "workin' the system."
If you are my cousin Linda or Brin, you are going to be receiving a Christmas card with a long white strip of paper that looks like a grocery store receipt along with a little slip of paper with this printed on it:
I didn't feel too comfortable buying something for you that I wasn't sure you would like. So I decided to get you a gift certificate for Amazon.com. The problem, though, was that Amazon does not provide any way for me to buy a gift certificate and print it out to put in a card. I can have them e-mail you a gift certificate or they can send you a gift certificate in the mail. There aren't even any chain stores (Borders, BestBuy, WalMart, etc.) where I can purchase an Amazon gift card. I wanted something I could put in a Christmas card to you.
On the verge of frustration, I finally figured out how I could include a gift certificate with your Christmas card. Earlier this year, CoinStar partnered with Amazon to offer Amazon gift certificates at CoinStar machines. If you don't know what CoinStar is, they make these machines (found at grocery stores down here) that you can dump your change into and get cash back. The problem is that CoinStar normally charges 8.9 cents per dollar for providing this service. But if you get an Amazon gift certificate, there is no processing fee!
So I got some rolls of quarters and went down to the grocery store and spent a few minutes feeding them into the CoinStar machine and -- Presto! -- instant gift certificate for you.
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