Gift Registries

August 11th, 2007 by Potato

Gifts for a couple at their wedding is a cute tradition: stock them up on all the things they’ll need for their new lives together… and to avoid ending up with 5 breadmakers and a baker’s dozen fondue kits, or to get a matching set of china or silverwear one piece at a time, gift registries evolved. These days, it gets harder as a lot of people getting married already have the stuff they need to start their lives together, because they’ve already been living on their own (and, since there are two of them, may in fact have two of everything they need to start their lives).

But that’s a rant for another time.

What I want to complain about today is the HBC (the Bay, Zellers, Home Outfitters) gift registry. A friend of ours is going to get married later this month and registered there, and I can’t believe the very basic features that are missing. First, the upside: my understanding is that they get to visit the stores (the Bay and Home Outfitters) and just go crazy-go-nuts in the store with a bar code reader as though they were on a shopping spree (which, essentially, they are), and it all gets added to the list. Guests can access the list online and buy things right off the website. However, there is no mechanism that I can find to cross gifts off the list except by actually buying them from the registry. If you get the same item at another store (for example, Caynes), you’d be hard pressed to get someone at the Bay to take it off their list. Heck, even if you got the item at the Bay and forget to tell the cashier that at the time, I don’t know if they would let you go back and cross it off the list unless you did a full return and rebuy (or at least that’s the vibe I’m getting, I haven’t tried it). That’s pretty stupid in my opinion. Yes, it helps force guests to buy at the store where the registry is kept, which gets more business for them, but I think the increased probability to shop there should be enough incentive for a company to host a registry, and as a courtesy should make it easy to scratch off items bought elsewhere (after all, if the couple gets two of a particular item, they may very well assume that the store didn’t properly maintain the list, and not recommend them…).

What’s even weirder is that even though Home Outfitters and the Bay are all part of HBC, they maintain separate lists for the couple. Even though (some) of the same items are available from both stores, if an item appears on the Home Outfitters list, we can’t buy it at the Bay. Furthermore, when Wayfare did buy an item in store, the saleslady seemed to have real trouble comprehending the concept of taking it with her and wrapping it. She was all keen on pushing the service where they can ship it to the store nearest them where they registered, and they can pick all the gifts up together (granted, it’s probably more convenient than trying to get one of the groomsmen to stay sober enough to be responsible for trucking the gifts after the reception, but it’s a lot less personal).

I’m sure somewhere out there (and I haven’t looked, not even a quick Google search) there’s a decent web service that will let you register for an arbitrary number of items at as many competing stores as you like, and guests can knock items off the list at their leisure (perhaps even before leaving to pick them up)… or at the very least a PHP/SQL script… Actually, something like that might come in handy come next Potatomas…

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