If you’ve ever used the iPhone app for Groupon — or enviously watched the app get used by a friend who owns an iPhone, as was the case for me — then you may have wondered why all coupons and gift certificates can’t be redeemed this way. Instead of dealing with losable plastic or paper gift cards, I should just be able to pull up a code on my phone for my discount or freebie!

Giiv logoThat’s the idea behind Giiv.com, which lets you send a friend everything from a dozen donuts to a yoga class via text message to redeem at his or her leisure. Unfortunately, while Giiv.com’s idea is certain one for which the time has come, Giiv.com doesn’t actually make waste-free giving giving easy.

First of all, most of Giiv.com’s gift certificate options are for e-tailers, not brick-and-mortar establishments. If your friend has to go online to shop anyway, doesn’t it make more sense to send an e-gift certificate by email that lets the recipient click directly to the e-tailer’s site? This feature’s especially odd for the Amazon.com gift certificates; buying and sending one via text message not only forces your friend to manually copy the gift certificate code from the text message on a phone to Amazon’s website, it also forces you to pay more because Giiv.com tacks on a 99-cent “convenience fee.”

Giiv.com gifts

But I had high hopes for Giiv.com’s gift certificates for brick-and-mortar establishments. Giiv.com sent me a gift certificate for an Exhale Spa Yoga class to try out — the top photo’s what the text message looks like — so last weekend I got on my bike and wheeled down to Venice’s Exhale studio. There I handed over my Blackberry to the nice guy at check in, who said he’d never gotten a gift certificate “in this format” before, but seemed up to the challenge of helping me use it.

And help me he did — by entering in the code to find that Giiv.com’s gift of a free yoga class at Exhale was actually a $17.85 credit to spend at Exhale. Guess how much yoga classes cost at Exhale Venice? That would be $22. The check-in guy even checked with another Exhale employee to see if anything could be done about the situation — but nothing could.

Now, the Exhale experience itself was great. Once I paid the difference, I got to take a fantastic yoga class. And certainly, I can’t complain about paying $4.15 for the 1.5 hour-long experience.

But if you’d paid the $20.99 — which is what it costs to send your friend a gift certificate for a free Exhale Spa Yoga class on Giiv.com, you probably would be kind of pissed to get a “Thanks for the ‘free’ class” text from her later. Okay — Your friends are probably not that passive-aggressive, but you get my point.

So I can’t recommend Giiv — at least not now, while the site’s still in beta and clearly has kinks to work out — but I do hope more stores and companies will start offering text message versions of gift certificates and coupons for people to use. Have you tried Giiv.com and had a better experience than I did? If so, share what happened in the comments.

Screenshot and logo from Giiv.com

The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.