Company’s employee bonus is gift cards to its own store


Too many corporations have missed the point of Christmas this year. They’re less about being Santa than being Jacob Marley and pre-transformation Ebenezer Scrooge, two miserly money-grubbers, one of who is doomed to wander the afterlife burdened by the very chains of his greed.

Like the companies that offer me a gift that’s not really a gift. It’s insulting that they even call it a gift. They barrage me with emails that say, “Click this link to see your We Love You So Much Thank You Gift!”

I click it, wondering what my gift could be. An ebook? A Starbucks gift card? A digital pony?

No, it’s a coupon for $10 off any order of $50 or more.

A coupon? That’s not a gift. A gift is a product or a service (“one free backrub”) that’s given freely. It’s not something I actually have to buy myself. The only thing more irritating than this is receiving a $5 gift card to a store where the cheapest item costs $10.

“Our Very Special Holiday Gift to you is, if you buy one book, you can buy a second book for 25% off the full retail price. Does not apply to new releases from the last 12 months. Must be used within 36 hours of issuing date. Not available Sundays and weekdays after 3 p.m.”

At best, it’s a small savings, but only if I spend money in your store. It’s less of a gift than a marketing stunt that makes you believe you’ve done something nice for your customers.

Not only do corporations look for every opportunity to slip their hands into your pocket, they’ll do anything they can to claw back the things they’ve already given you. Or their employees.

One recent example is online media conglomerate Vox Media.

Vox Media is expected to rake in $700 million in revenue next year, with a profit of $100 million. It also bought another online media publisher in 2021. Its CEO makes $4 million per year. So it’s doing pretty well for itself.

And what did the leadership do to thank their employees for the company’s wonderful fortune? What sort of beneficence did they shower upon the people who helped them get rich?

Last year, they gave a year-end bonus of $1,000 per employee. So you know it’s got to be something just as good this year, right?

Of course not. Rich companies don’t get rich by being kind and generous. They could not have been more miserly than Scrooge begrudgingly giving Christmas Day off to Bob Cratchit.

Vox gave each employee a $75 gift card.

To the company store.

Yes, Virginia, according to, Vox’s year-end bonus was free swag from their own store. If that isn’t the biggest bag-over-the-head punch in the face. It’s not like the company store even has great stuff. It’s your typical, run-of-the-mill blandness for companies that think Jeans Friday is a perk.

Armed with their $75 gift card, employees can choose from a zip-up fleece for $62, a sweatshirt for $54, a hat for $17, a coffee mug for $20, or a Moleskine hard-cover notebook for $30.

Shipping and handling are free, but your gift won’t arrive until Jan. 24, 2022.

Man, talk about getting your eye shot out.

As an added benefit, if your total order is less than $75, you don’t get to keep the change.

Sorry, the added benefit is for Vox. Only Vox benefits from this gift. Remember, rich companies don’t get rich by being kind and generous. They get it by charging their own employees to use the “gift” they received.

That’s because all Vox products are being sold at full retail price and not the wholesale price Vox is charged by their supplier. So that $60 soft-shell vest really only cost Vox $30 or $40. So your $75 gift card really only costs the company half that amount.

And if you want to buy $85 worth of Vox-branded swag, you have to spend the extra $10 of your own money.

And who gets the extra $10?

Vox, of course! Remember, this bonus only benefits Vox! Haven’t you been paying attention?

You’ll give Vox $10 of the salary they paid you, so you can use the bonus they gave you, to pay full retail for gifts, which they’re buying at wholesale prices.

And how long do Vox’s valued employees have to take advantage of their overlords’ rampant generosity? They have from Dec. 21 through Jan. 5 to wade through the 15 — yes, 15! — choices of jackets, vests, hats, umbrellas, T-shirts and a coffee mug.

God bless us, everyone!

Look, Vox, these are not the actions of a company that actually values its employees. This is not how you express gratitude. It feels like you not only stole Christmas, but you knocked Tiny Tim over and stole his crutch. You could not have made a more pathetic attempt at generosity if you had given your employees a 20% off coupon, too.

I only hope your heart finally grows three sizes someday.

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