Consumer Reports looks into websites designed for group gifting

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Consumer Reports looked at several websites designed to make group gifting easier. (Consumer Reports)

It's the holiday season. And chances are you and a group of people plan on giving a gift that's from the entire group. 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney partnered up with Consumer Reports to find an easier way to make it happen.

Holiday giving often means chipping in for gifts to family, friends, teachers and coaches. Pooling money might mean better presents. But it can be a logistical nightmare to organize. Well, there could there be an easier way. Consumer Reports reveals several websites that promise to take the stress out of group gifting.

Holiday shopping can be stressful, particularly if you're organizing for a group gift.

Just ask Mio Hinckson. She's heard every excuse in the book when it comes to collecting money.

"I have to run to the bank, or I don't have cash with me right now, or I'll give it to you later," said Hinckson.

Consumer Reports looked at several websites designed to make group gifting easier.

HipChip sells Visa gift cards as well as gift cards for dozens of restaurants and retailers. It sends out invitations and reminders for you -- charging each contributor a 50 cent processing fee. The Visa gift cards carry an additional $5 to $35 fee, depending on the denomination.

GiftStarter goes beyond gift cards. How about a Sennheiser headset for a gaming co-worker; an Apple Watch for the recent graduate, or a solar travel bag for a friend out to save the planet? But the 8 percent fee can boost the total quickly, especially on high-ticket items.

"The fee can be a bit pricey, but people need to decide if the convenience is worth it to them," said Nikhil Hutheesing, Consumer Reports.

Another site, eGifter charges no fees -- and offers gift cards for more than $250 retailers, restaurants and travel partners. You can invite people by Facebook or text message -- and each person can add a photo or record a video message, that will be sent with the gift.

Meaning you and your crew can be big spenders, with very little effort.

Consumer Reports says one important thing to note about these websites is that they don't offer refunds. And, if you're buying an actual gift, be sure to shop around and compare prices on the item, so you don't end up paying more than you realize for the convenience. And remember to always read a site's privacy policy before placing an order.


Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.

(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2014. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

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