retail news in context, analysis with attitude

On the subject of a proposed rule that would limit the interchange fees that banks can charge retailers for debit card transactions, one MNB user wrote:

Please do not publish my specific store or company, but I can tell you for November, my one grocery store, was charged $23,000 in debit transaction fees.  I am always amazed when I get my Profit statement that this is the average I pay each month to the banks for my customers to pay with Debit/Credit cards.

I really hope the law passes to stop this gouging.

If my math is right, that means a 100 store chain could pay almost $3 million in interchange fees just on debit card transactions. Yikes.

MNB user Clay Dockery wrote:

My hope is that the cap on fees will result in a reduction of advertising…..after all, how many times do we really need to see, “What’s in your wallet?”!

That’d be nice.

Responding to my debate with another MNB user yesterday, another reader wrote:

Nice job on calling someone out of the facts. I particularly like your take:

“We have to get past the point where every regulatory proposal gets seen as a liberal/socialist threat to all that has made America great ... just as, by the way, we have to get past the point where every problem is seen as an excuse for a new set of regulations.”

It is interesting that we find ourselves trying to strike a balance between these two forces.

I guess it doesn’t seem to amaze me any longer that there are people that have opinions regarding certain matters to which they have for one never felt the direct impact of it on their own personal life. Or, don’t bother to consider or research the impact the matter has on the actual people it does affect before drawing their own conclusions. I don’t know who said it first but one of my favorite quotes is, “Where you stand depends on where you sit”.

Having family members in small businesses that are affected by these fees I have seen first hand the affect of banking fees have on operating a business. Both in how accepting cards can increase overall revenues but how any increased revenues do come at a cost. My son bought a small restaurant that was “cash only” and the first thing he did was to start taking electronic payment but did not increase his menu prices. And perhaps with this new FED proposal it will not be something he has to consider. But without it… if fees continue to rise I think it is something in addition to the increase of COG that he will have to consider when reviewing his financial statements and how he prices his menu.

It is ironic how someone can quickly spout off about how “big brother” is trying to control the profits of big business yet say nothing negative of “big brother business” just finding the next loophole to make up the loss and taking it from the consumer another way. I will be the first to admit I know nothing of the details regarding the cost to the banks for proving the service of debt or credit cards, but how much does it cost them per transaction and does that cost increase as the size of the ring increases. I do not receive additional statements based on the number of times I use my card there are just more numbers on the statement. I would just be guessing but I would dare to say that increases in fees are more affected by pay increases then anything else. It is no wonder the US has the highest debt card fees in the world. Maybe the banks should rely an the age old business practice of cutting cost most other businesses need to do today to remain profitable instead of the high road of simply increasing fees again and again. I guess we should apologize to them if they might have to work harder to earn their money.

MNB user Ken Wagar wrote:

Kevin, Great response to your reader’s views.

“We have to get past the point where every regulatory proposal gets seen as a liberal/socialist threat to all that has made America great ... just as, by the way, we have to get past the point where every problem is seen as an excuse for a new set of regulations.”

Can we please, please, please have a big and repeated amen to that!

The polarity, paranoia and lack of reason or civility on all sides is driving me away from social networks, news, commentary etc. I am a news junky, wish I could find a source of news and discussion that was reasonably unbiased , fair and dealt with facts at least as much as opinion AND THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT IT NEEDS TO BE SKEWED TO WHATEVER MY OWN BELIEF’S AND BIASES ARE. I just as you have put it want real facts along with the opinions expressed.

KC, I fear you are a voice in the wilderness on this. I try to be hopeful but the reality seems to be getting worse rather than better and the Wingnuts on all sides have the loudest bullhorns.

On the subject of the obesity epidemic, MNB user Mark Boyer wrote:

I work in the sweet side of bakery business, and most of our products are consumed for reasons we refer to as “the four Cs:” Cravings, Connections (with family and friends), Convenience and Celebrations. Everything we make can be consumed as part of an overall balanced diet and exercise regimen.

There are no bad foods; only bad diets.

Another MNB user wrote:

This article gives the responsibility of the youth to the parents, “ultimately the first responders have to be America’s parents.”

FINALLY.  We parents need to step up, prepare meals at home, away from the TV, while sitting around the kitchen table in conversation.  If that concept is a shock than we need to be shocked.  The head of household needs to also take responsibility for what they put into their mouth.  Food that comes out of a cardboard box and into the micro-wave can be easy but a life time of this type of abuse may never be corrected. We are blessed in this country to have fresh fruits and fresh vegetables that are sold in the grocery story for our consumption and for our good health.

On another subject, we got the following email from MNB user Paul Anthony:

Thank you very much for your interesting, entertaining, and informative emails – they really are a constant delight.

In reading your comments on social networking among older Americans, I’m reminded that anxiety about change tends to (frankly) be a problem for people of your time of life (and mine) rather than senior citizens.  It’s habitually the middle aged who are stuck with the responsibility for caring for businesses, organizations and families, most often without the authority we need to meet those responsibilities effectively (there are whole branches of psychology dedicated to that phenomenon).  Older people, though, have grown used to change – and have also come to have the authority they need to meet the challenges around them (often through attrition, of course).  I knew a delightful 90-year-old woman in rural Iowa who was always saying that she loved change:  when she grew up, her family had no electricity, no flush toilets, were working the farm with draft animals, and she had grown to adulthood having no voice in anything, and she’d lived to have all the modern conveniences, her own webpage, and very late in life her own career as a journalist.

Personally, I can’t wait for senility.

You’re right about our time of life often being challenging and anxiety-inducing.

But you know, I’ve come to the following conclusion. Life isn’t always simple and easy. Life can come with its share of problems, and sometimes people have to shoulder more than their share of problems.

In the end, I think, we have to make the decision to be happy. To just say, whatever the problems, whatever the challenges, I’m not going to let them beat me down or wear me out.

I had a friend named Vic Magnotta whose favorite expression was “Keep smiling.” He lived a life of great opportunity and achievement, yet one that was tinged by tragedy. (He himself died at age 43.) But I never think of him without seeing a smile on his face...which is, a think, the best legacy.

No matter how old we are.

And finally, speaking of being happy, this email from an MNb user from Philadelphia:

The Phillies get Cliff  Lee. The Flyers beat the Rangers. The Eagles steal one from the Giants.

Christmas happens one week earlier for Philadelphia sport fans!

KC's View: