Published on: March 5, 2008
Responding to Michael Sansolo’s column yesterday about the audacity of the credit card companies in pushing their products that ultimately cost consumers a great deal more money, MNB
user Christine A. Myres wrote:Is it possible that some of those cards are debit, not credit, cards? I’m not sure you can tell by the face of it whether it is or not … I haven’t paid very close attention to the ad because it irritates me, but to be fair, all of those dancing idiots might be using their debit cards. It is currently the only card I carry (despite being issued by Visa, which was all my bank offered me), and is very convenient because a) it is just like cash & debits my account almost instantaneously and b) I don’t have to remember to go to the Magic Wall and get $$$$, since it accepted virtually anywhere. If they actually identify the card as credit, that’s another story.
She’s right. Some of the ads cited by Michael are for the debit cards, but that doesn't make things any better. The fees and the misspending go on there, too…and have long been criticized here on MNB
user Brad Thorsby wrote:Your article on Visa is right on target. We have 2 medium sized supermarkets and last year we paid $150k in fees. There is a bill be introduced (not numbered yet), in the House “fairness in interchange fees” or something similar. Retailers should be knocking down their representatives doors on this bill.
user wrote:Where are the examples of large retailers offering consumers an incentive to use cash? Haven't seen it personally from a chain, but mom and pop stores are often willing to discount a purchase to avoid the credit card fees.
I think the dirty secret is that retailers would rather pay the fees than encourage consumers to stare at the stack of $20.00 bills that they are about to surrender at the cash register. In this case, one audacity begets another. I will not be holding my breath waiting for any retail executives to encourage consumers to budget and spend wisely. Maybe when sustainability loses its luster, consumer fiscal responsibility will be the buzz.
We don't care what people use. It is up to them to decide how fiscally responsible they want to be, and even how to define fiscal responsibility.
What we are arguing for is complete transparency and fairness. And that’s the one thing the credit card companies have no intention of providing.MNB
user David Livingston wrote:For those you play by the rules such as paying off your credit card balance every month, using some credit cards can be quite lucrative. Discover has been paying 5% back on certain purchases while American Express has been rebating 5% of different purchases. Combining the two cards with the right combination gets me $75-$100 back each month on my travel expenses. I realize that I am paying for those rebates with higher prices. But did you ever go to the Holiday Inn and ask for a cash discount? They look at you like you're nuts. I have had the audacity to ask independent business owners for a cash discount and more often than not they will give me one rather than take a credit card. Still for the most part, with the rebate credit cards, it’s less expensive to use plastic than credit.
Responding to our story the other day about Stop & Shop reducing prices on condiments, part of a broader price reduction strategy, one MNB
user suggested that “Stop & Shop equals smoke and mirrors,” and wrote:Don't let the story about Stop & Shop pricing slip under the radar … who feels that Stop & Shop is truly committed to low prices?
Here are some questions to consider:
When a retailer makes a press release about lowering prices, what is the goal?
What does lowering prices at Stop and Shop even mean … Does it mean going from being the highest priced retailer by 25% to being the highest priced retailer by 20%?
Is price being used as an unquantifiable marketing weapon, (as in) “we are the lowest price on a Tuesday at 4 o'clock so we can proclaim price leadership?”
I wrote the other day about the nutritional importance of not eating doughnuts, and one MNB
user responded that such things as french fries and potato chips actually are worse.
Which led another MNB
user to chime in:Next time you get a chance, please read the ingredient list on a Lay's potato chip package and then count the number of ingredients. You will not use all of your fingers on one hand. Nor will you find any ingredients that you cannot pronounce. If you look at one of the seasoned packages, there are still three primary ingredients. The seasoning has a number of ingredients but there are still basically three primary ones. And there is but one gram of saturated fat in a serving and due to the sunflower oil, there are good fats in there. Moreover, there is less sodium than a serving of Cheerios, yet health conscience parents view chips as bad for their kids and Cheerios as good. Look at the package of Tostitos and Fritos - again three ingredients. Now, compare those ingredients and that nutritional label against donuts and French fries. Or even compare against some of the so-called fruit snacks (which can be loaded with sugar).
I know that you read packages, so I suspect you will do this exercise, if you haven't already.
I will. But I’m already getting excited.MNB
had a story yesterday about how “a group of religious investors is calling for more than 60 leading food, beverage, restaurant and other companies ‘to protect their brand, reputation and consumer confidence by opposing the spring 2008 planting of genetically modified sugarbeets. The genetically modified sugarbeet crop would be used to make the sugar consumed in thousands of the most widely consumed food products in the US,” according to the statement released by the group’.”
My comment: On first reading, this story might just sound like it is about a small segment of the lunatic fringe, but I’m not sure that this would be accurate. These kinds of groups, and these kinds of opinions, seem to be getting some traction…and the food industry had better figure out how to deal with them.MNB
user Bill Bodine wrote:I noticed the segment today on the campaign against GMO sugar beets. I don’t know much about sugar beets, but I do have experience with other biotechnology crops. Biotechnology crops have been extensively reviewed and tested for their safety. These crops have been grown for over a decade and yet there has never been proof that foods created from these crops are any less safe to eat than foods created from non-biotech crops.
What biotechnology crops have done is allowed farmers to increase yields to meet the worldwide demand for food, allowed farmers to practice reduced tillage and no-tillage farming systems that reduce soil erosion and improve water quality, and have allowed farmers to significantly reduce pesticide applications. There are also biotechnology crops on the horizon that will provide more efficient water use and tolerance to drought, more efficient use of nutrients and fertilizers, and allow for continued improvement in crop yields. Biotechnology is an important key to feeding the world both now and in the future.
I agree with your comment about dealing with these issues. Hopefully providing accurate information to consumers about the safety and benefits of these products can help.MNB
user Jeff Totten wrote:You are right to be cautious in describing this group as perhaps being part of the "lunatic fringe." I am not familiar with ICCR and, while I tend to disagree with fellow Christians who do seem to come from the "right-wing fringe," marketers need to be more responsive to consumers and activist groups who are seeking to practice their religious faith by living more responsibly (e.g., being more ethical, being more earth user-friendly). For example, I am a United Methodist and the general conference of my congregation is meeting this week, I think, in Fort Worth, TX, and the congregation as a whole will be considering whether to pull some investments from companies that do not walk an ethical or socially responsible line.MNB
user Jerry Sheldon, however, thought I went too far:Just because it is a faith based group why do you refer to them as “lunatic fringe” and “these kinds of groups.” I have no idea what their belief system is or anything more beyond what is in your article, but since I espouse to a faith based belief system I guess that would make me religious and part of this “lunatic fringe” too? You reflect this group in a negative light based upon their belief that they do not want genetically modified food, whose full impact on our bodies is not understood, yet I seem to recall you voicing similar concerns in the past. Bad choice of words.
Hey, I think Wal-Mart is running some sensitivity training classes for cashiers who insult Muslims. You might want to participate.
I didn’t exactly call them part of the lunatic fringe…I just said that was my first reaction.
As for sensitivity training…I’m a pundit. Which means that I am an equal opportunity offender.
In the ongoing discussion about corporate naming of baseball stadiums, one MNB
user criticized me for not realizing that two historic ballparks – Wrigley Field and Busch Stadium – actually were named after companies. But two MNB
users leapt to my defense.
One wrote:Wrigley Field and Busch Stadium were named after the families that owned them. Those families also happened to own companies, which they also gave the family name (no denying that it may have been an advertising ploy as well). They did not sell the naming rights to the highest bidder - no matter how stupid it would sound.
Apparently, there are some limits though. A Scottsdale restaurant, Pink Taco, wanted to buy naming rights to the new stadium in the Phoenix area, but were denied…
And another wrote:I have to take exception w/one your reader’s comments that Wrigley Field and Busch Stadium were named for products. That is not true. Each was named for its owner, William Wrigley Jr and Gussie Busch.
I feel exonerated. Thanks.