Friday, July 27, 2007

Are we not idiots?

A perennial favorite during the TDF is the annual 'most annoying commercial' whineage. And of course, I'm not immune. The worst-ever in my memory were those reeking Lincoln Navigator ads a few years back, so this year's contender is only modestly annoying by comparison. Still, the premise is that American consumers are basically morons.

You've undoubtedly seen the ads. Some schmuck wanders into a happily spinning business and gums the whole thing up by trying to pay for his purchase with - gasp! - cash. Think about it for a moment. If you were running a business, would you turn away a potential sale because the buyer offered cash? Of course not. Businesses exist to make a profit and in order to do that they must have satisfied customers. Otherwise they'll be gone from the marketplace in short order.

Now, it's been a while since I worked in a retail shop, but back then the credit card companies charged the store a transaction fee of about 3%, if I recall right. I'd suspect that hasn't changed. We lost 3% on each credit card sale in order to give the customer a convenient way to pay. Any business owner would rather take cash or checks. He makes more money.

So the assumption in these commercials is that the world runs more smoothly in its groove when we all use our convenient plastic debit cards, and somehow only the truly benighted Luddites among us insist on using real money. What kind of moron, other than an advertising executive, would believe this nonsense?

Tomorow morning, I'll pay for my coffee with a couple of crumpled dollar bills, just like last weekend and the weekend before that. Sandy will take them and smile. Maybe we'll share a joke or two. But we both know that if I or any other customer felt unwelcome in the shop because we chose to pay with cash, well, next week we'd be drinking our morning cuppa in a different coffee shop.

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Blogger danc said...

Totally agree, using a credit card for any petty purchases (< $25.00) is idiotic.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Ian said...

Great post! I work in retail and the scary part is that every once in a while a cashier will be asked if we accept cash.
The transaction fees are still there and getting worse for the stores.
I'm with danc, anything below $25 is moronic.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Ed W said...

Well, folks, I'm that Luddite that doesn't like using plastic - at any time. I watched a piece on marketing that showed how direct marketers buy information about our purchases, and use that to target us for more advertising. A couple buying diapers, formula, and baby food will find their mailbox filling up with tantalizing offers. A guy like me would find himself in that coveted beer-pasta-and-bike-magazine demographic.

I'm just trying to stay out of their databases.

11:17 AM  
Blogger A Midnight Rider said...

I'll be the wrench in the soup here. I use my credit card for just about everything. The air miles I earn pay for many of my flights.

I always pay the card in full each month to avoid charges.

On the business side. Many do not accept the cards that charge them excessive amounts. Discover, Diners Club and American Express are three that come to mind. I have been told by restaurant friends that some deduct as much as 8%.

And yes, you do become a marketing target. Just look at the coupons you get next time you go to the grocery store, if you use credit or debit cards there. They are always something you use.

7:33 PM  

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