Service of the Rules Are Not For Me

November 23rd, 2015

Categories: Bicycles, Celebrity, Civility, Consideration, Rules, Safety, Time

 above the rules

Some are above the rules. To illustrate the point I’ve chosen a public figure who doesn’t flinch at keeping countless others waiting; bicyclists who ignore traffic rules potentially causing others harm and an actress who doesn’t care if she ruins an irreplaceable museum piece.

Tick Tock Not

Mayor Bill de BlasioMayor de Blasio, [photo, right], holds up the works because he can’t get places on time. His actions tell the public, “Tough; live with it.” He hadn’t held the title long when his reputation was forged: He doesn’t like early meetings and tends to be tardy at any time. Headlines still track his arrival often over the real news–why he went or spoke somewhere.

Talk about Traffic Rules

Last week, WOR 710 a.m. morning drive radio talk show hosts Len Berman and Todd Schnitt addressed the lawless bicycle situation in the city. Schnitt, who just moved his family to New York from Florida, said he’s teaching his children to look both ways before crossing a one-way traffic street so as not to get hit. Berman reported once being almost downed by a bike outside a sports arena.

bike against trafficEvery night as I wait for the light at 53rd Street and First Avenue, where the new bike lane I recently wrote about threatens, I must remind myself to look both up and downtown as bikes speed by both ways.

Too Beautiful to Follow Rules

And then there’s Elizabeth Hurley, a British actress, who sat on “the 16th century Great Bed of Ware,” at the Victoria & Albert Museum to snap a selfie, Henri Nuendorf wrote last month on Artnet News. “The actress reportedly triggered an alarm when she took a seat on the priceless 10-foot wide mattress to capture that perfect shot,” he wrote in “Liz Hurley Kicked Out of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum for Taking Illegal Selfie on Antique Bed.” 

Great Bed of Ware

Great Bed of Ware

“The resulting image, which Hurley shared with her 164,000 Instagram followers racked up over 3,000 likes in only five days.” He continued, “The V&A has a strict ‘no touching’ rule to preserve its historic exhibits. Touching introduces dirt and oil from the skin onto an object’s surface, which can attract dirt to linger and degrade old and fragile objects.” Her objective was to generate publicity at any cost. She did. There must be better ways to do this while not potentially ruining something irreplaceable.

I don’t have to ask one question–I know the answer: “because they can.” What does it take for others to insist on a change? Can you share other examples? Are there exceptions where rules of civility by public figures or of safety should be bent if not broken?

Exceptions to the rule

Service of Coming Clean II

November 19th, 2015

Categories: Appliances, Appointments, Customer Care, Customer Service, Repair

hand washing dishes in sink 

A friend in NJ sent this to me. It identifies legitimate expectations of someone who invests in the best and anticipates equivalent service. She wrote:

I had an experience recently that calls service into question. 

We bought a Miele dishwasher about eight years ago.  It cost more than my husband’s first car, but we had done our research and decided it was worth it.  Up until now, we’ve been very happy with it.  But it developed a leak early this month, so I called Miele (which does all of its own servicing).  The person I spoke with in the service department was not the most congenial.  It took a fairly long time for him to find us in the system, because someone had spelled my name wrong when I made my last service call. (They had talked me through a minor repair some years back.) The appointment he gave me was a week in the future. 

dishwasherThe technician came and was very nice.  He brought a $600 pump on the assumption that was probably the problem.  But it wasn’t.  It was two inexpensive hoses, which he did not have on his service truck.  He pointed out the window to indicate how small the truck is and told me it had to hold everything he needs for a day’s scheduled repairs.  What he didn’t explain was why the assumption was that the pump was shot and the leak had nothing to do with simple hoses or gaskets. He assured me the parts were in the warehouse, said someone would call to schedule another service appointment, and assured me I would only be charged for a single visit. 

The next day I received an estimate for the cost of the repair, which said I had only five days to schedule an appointment before the estimate expired.  No one had called me so I called and waited a long time to talk to someone in the service department.  It turns out that all parts have to be shipped from the warehouse (here in NJ, where Miele is based and where I live) to the service tech (the techs work from home), and when he received them I would get a call to schedule an appointment. I insisted on prompt scheduling. My next appointment is a week from the first one. Assuming the dishwasher gets fixed then, we will have been without one for two weeks.

And I will have rearranged my schedule not once but twice to accommodate service appointments. 

repair vanWhen I asked the customer service person why Miele operated on this convoluted system, which is inconvenient for the customer, he said it’s because the company wants inventory in the warehouse, not on the service trucks.  My response was that if you send a tech out to fix a leaky dishwasher, he should have all the parts that might be needed in that situation, not just the priciest one. How much room do hoses take?  I pointed out that when you sell high-end appliances, you need to offer high-end service!  I also indicated that I’m in the process of replacing all the appliances in another kitchen and had just been in the Miele showroom two weeks ago to look at the latest dishwashers.  I’d also looked at the products of a competitor.

We have other high-end appliances, and I have had service on some of them over the years. I’ve never had to wait this long to get one of them fixed.  Most of the other brands do not have proprietary service, as Miele does.  Instead, they use authorized repair people who service multiple brands.  My neighbor had a problem with her dryer the other day and the service people were out here almost immediately!

dishwasher partsMy husband, who is very handy, even looked online to see if he could buy the parts and do the repair himself.  But unlike many of its competitors, Miele doesn’t sell parts.

I don’t mind washing dishes once in a while, although it’s a pain in the tail after a dinner party. But you don’t spend this much on a dishwasher to hand-wash your dishes for two weeks.  And I will be asking very different questions before I buy my next appliances.

People with both tight budgets and deep pockets buy top of the line appliances from local merchants because they expect to get better service when needed–though not too often–as well as to keep the equipment for a long time. Is this a myth? Are they better off buying cheap copies from big boxes and tossing them when they break?

dishwashers at dump

Service of Museums & How They Attract Audiences

November 16th, 2015

Categories: Craft Show, Marketing, Museums, Technology

Agave Pod Vase by Christine & Michael Adcock

Agave Pod Vase by Christine & Michael Adcock


Ellen Gamerman shared a glimpse of “The Museum of the Future” in a Wall Street Journal article reporting how technology is one of the ways these institutions plan to revolutionize and transform a visitors’ experience. A goal: Attracting audiences.

For starters she told how Metropolitan Museum visitors saw a Jackson Pollock picture through 3-D headsets; mentioned a “virtual-reality film that recreates ocean creatures from 500 million years ago,” at the London Natural History Museum; wrote about movies with “special effects in a 4D theater with piped-in gunpowder smells and seats that jiggle whenever cannons are fired,” at the imminent American Revolution Museum, Yorktown, Va. and more. Lots to look forward to.

Seascape necklace by Beth Farber

Seascape necklace by Beth Farber

There are also valuable, effective traditional ways museums introduce potential enthusiasts to their exhibitions. For the third year Brooklyn Museum is the venue for the American Fine Craft Show November 21-22 where 90 exhibitors, handpicked by my clients Joanna and Richard Rothbard, will exhibit and sell some of the best crafts designed and made in America. Tickets to the craft show include general admission to the museum, including “Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008,” an exhibition that opens on the eve of the show.

Selecting to feature the work of only a few exhibitors from the riches of images I have is always difficult but what fun: Almost as good as shopping.


Mediterranean Decay Coral Necklace by Barbara Heinrich

Mediterranean Decay Coral Necklace by Barbara Heinrich

Whether gemstones, coral or polymer, jewel tones from nature will punctuate the display cases of many of the 19 jewelry designers.

Barbara Heinrich transformed perforated red-orange coral from the bottom of the ocean into necklace beads [photo above, left]. The Pittsford-NY jeweler added an 18kt gold egg-shaped bead that mimics the coral’s perforations and a toggle clasp.

Another necklace informed by the deep, but in brilliant turquoise, is Beth Farber’s “Seascape,” hand-woven with apatite, a boulder opal and gold [Photo above, right]. Farber, whose studio is in Minnetonka, Minn., says her work combines the ancient with the contemporary. Adapting ancient bead weaving techniques, she hand-weaves fine gemstones, silver and gold with a contemporary sensibility and edge.


Bern and Trusk vests by Teresa Maria Widuchn

Bern and Trusk vests by Teresa Maria Widuchn

Fashion takes pride of place where 25 of 90 handpicked artisans will exhibit handmade coats, jackets, dresses and accessories in the museum’s regal Beaux-Arts Court. Standouts reflect Asian influences in style, fabric and/or construction as well as elegant design simplicity.

Spare simplicity in form and motif translates to classic elegance that Teresa Maria Widuch understates on her website as “an efficient use of materials with a clean line,” [Photo of Bern and Trusk vests, right]. In her Chicago studio she creates one-of-a-kind wool felt and Ultrasuede jackets, vests and coats at her Chicago studio. Jane Herzenberg, Northhampton, Mass., explores the relationship between painting, Shibori dyeing, Rozome and hand embellishment to create art to wear. [Photo right, below].

Barcelona jacket by Jane Herzenberg

Barcelona jacket by Jane Herzenberg

Both Shibori and Rozome [batik] are Japanese techniques.


Glass, ceramics, wood, leather and wool are transformed to one-of-a-kind decorative and/or functional pieces by artisans who describe their work as “improvised” and “intuitive.”

Ceramist Pat Warwick “has never been far from the sea.” [Today she lives by the sea in Warren, RI]. She wrote on her website that the drawings she made to illustrate and design materials for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s Marine Resource center “became the basis for her first installation- a school of fish for her own kitchen.”

Christine and Michael Adcock, Leaves of Grass Fiber-Clay Arts, Santa Barbara, Calif., are collaborative mixed media artists. [An example of their work is at top.] Christine is a basket maker and Michael a studio potter. Christine Adcock said that nature is the ultimate teacher and inspiration. “I delight in its every detail, from the beautiful markings on a tiny bug or moth to the majesty of mountain and meadow. My work is an effort to take tiny, beautiful, elements of nature – a seed pod we tread upon or a leaf of grass – and put them in a context where people take time to experience and enjoy their perfection.”  

Haven’t museums always felt they needed to entice people to visit? Is this an American habit because the public is used to being marketed to? Are there lines a museum should take care not to cross in “merchandising” collections even if tempted by technology?



Pat Warwick ceramic wall piece

Pat Warwick ceramic wall piece



Service of Simple Things That Give Pleasure

November 12th, 2015

Categories: Paper, Pencils, Simple Things

Pencil Sharpener for Post

I love the way fine paper and a good pencil feel. My friend Nancie gave me both for my birthday with blocks of Rhodia paper and a few pencils in the company’s trademark orange colored box. It’s a pleasure to tear off a perfect sheet with graph pattern to carry in my handbag with the day’s list or leave as a message. The perforations never fail so the top edge is always perfect, the paper sturdy and smooth. The orange colored pencils have an equally fine hand and the lead is soft but doesn’t smudge. The pencil feels so good to use it encourages me to clean up my usually illegible handwriting, slow up and take better care.

Halloween 2015 blog images 014That’s why I appreciated Ralph Gardner, Jr.’s article “Putting a Fine Point on Pencils” and can’t wait to get downtown to visit CW Pencil Enterprise at 100a Forsyth Street in NYC. I’ve been enchanted with such shops abroad and am thrilled that since November of last year the 24 year old entrepreneur, Caroline Weaver, has afforded us a similar treat.

Afford is the appropriate word. In his Wall Street Journal column Gardner wrote, “The thrill of the store is that you can do some serious shopping—say, purchase a vintage pencil as well as a Möbius & Ruppert sharpener from Germany and a Czech L&C Hardtmuth eraser—and still spend under 10 bucks.”

I won’t need a sharpener. I still have the one that was in my room from grade through high school and college days [photo at top]. I love sharpening pencils. I guess that’s the point.

What simple things make you happy or feel comfortable?

CW Pencils Photo: Yelp

CW Pencils Photo: Yelp

Service of Apology IV

November 9th, 2015

Categories: Apology, Communications, Credit Card, Credit Card Fraud, Customer Service, E-tailing, Retail

Sad Dog

I think that Donald Trump has done a disservice to the business of apologies. He doesn’t offer them, nor does screenwriter/film director Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino made headlines because he won’t apologize to the police whom he called murderers.

On a smaller stage, but in the same vein, a friend had a dustup with a major trump yellingdepartment store where clearly, the message about a customer being right or  treated with kid gloves hasn’t reached or been taught to staff.

She wrote:

“I had a horrific customer service experience both online and in the store. What got me was that not a single employee would apologize. Even the in-store person where I eventually picked up my order refused to do so BECAUSE he said the inconvenience and lack of communication wasn’t HIS Fault so he has nothing to apologize for.

“I was on the phone for 25 minutes today to find out if yesterday’s online order, promised for today, had arrived. I never got an email order confirmation, a receipt or a status update.

“The customer service agent kept repeating herself [while providing no information] and finally put me through to the store where I was put on hold at least 3 times. A guy at the store eventually found the order, but wasn’t interested when I said that it took forever for this to happen. He couldn’t explain the delay and wouldn’t attempt to answer why I got no email communication about the order. [The information would certainly have expedited the search and shortened my phone wait--or saved me the call altogether if I'd received an email confirming arrival.]

Not my fault“The same man was there when I picked up the order. I again asked him about the lack of communication and he was very direct in saying he had no idea why there hadn’t been any. He said that the online function has NOTHING to do with the store and that he had no reason to say ‘I am sorry for your inconvenience!’

“I told him it’s a competitive market out there and that the reason there is so much medical malpractice in the country is because it was found that docs won’t say ‘I am sorry.’ (I admit this was a stretch and slightly irrelevant but it happens to be true and I think says a lot!!)”

The recent great experience I had with CVS, that I covered in “Service of Sales Promotions,” is an example of a company that trains its staff to understand that customers don’t want to hear about the differences between online and in store purchases or possible Internet glitches. The store gave me a full return on the online purchase I made in error.

credit card theftI unfortunately had to again deal with my credit card bank–see last week’s post, “Service of Contagious Credit Card Theft,” because when I called to activate my card, it had already been used fraudulently! Seems someone had paid for a $9 massage. No wonder the bank was suspicious: The card wasn’t activated and whoever heard of a massage costing $9?

I hadn’t carried it for one second–it traveled from the company that fulfills credit card orders through the post office to my postbox. When the phone connection was poor, the customer service person–who had nothing to do with the lousy connection–kept apologizing. The one who shared the bad news did so as well.

Do you think that publicity about public figures who never, ever apologize impacts how the public treats one another? Do major department stores have floor walkers anymore who might hear conversations between employees and customers? Why do people find it so hard to say, “I am sorry this has caused you stress?” Do you find that an apology takes the sting out of an otherwise negative situation?

I am never wrong


Service of Contagious Credit Card Theft

November 5th, 2015

Categories: Credit Card, Customer Care, Customer Service, Theft

Credit card thief

This tale has some irritating and some hopeful, impressive outcomes.

I have a credit card I barely use and never to buy anything online, in big box stores or restaurants and there’s only one automatic monthly withdrawal. So when I got a call from the bank about suspicious purchases at White Castle in Queens [$50+]; Target in Long Island [$266] and a $9 co-pay to a doctor in North Carolina, I was surprised. The card was still in my wallet.

RFID shellTwo friends who live in New Jersey and Tennessee report very recent similar incidents with their credit cards. One had his new card for less than a week. The other said that this was the only card she didn’t keep in her RFID shell. I’d never before heard of such a shell, that prevents electronic scan theft, so after I checked out the link she sent me on–the shell she recommended cost under $8.00–I looked into the subject a bit more.

If you have a “chipped” credit card, wrote Bill Spencer on, “a card with a radio-frequency identification computer chip inside — that chip can be scanned at stores and restaurants.” He said it costs less than $100 to buy a scanning device online that works from up to 25 feet away. Spencer reported that in addition to a shell, you can also protect your credit card by wrapping it in tin foil.

Someone must have scanned my nephew’s credit card number at the airport on his way to Costa Rico as he received a text asking if he’d bought something in Puerto Rico. He hadn’t but someone else had. As he only had one card with him he asked the company to keep his card open, which they did. But the next day someone spent $1,800 so they closed it down. Moral: Travel with more than one card and wrap it in an RFID shell or in foil.

Yelling at phoneI never got my replacement card after a few weeks. When I called to report this, I entered “press one, press two” hell and kept hearing a recording about a delay in Federal payments unrelated to me or credit cards. Finally I got through to a person. Seems they had only just sent out the card—didn’t give a reason for the delay, nor could they give me the number of this card. Moral: Next time I won’t be such a good person and I’ll ask to have the replacement card sent to me overnight.

Saashost.netI needed the number for, the company that hosts my email server, is on a monthly automatic payment plan and wasn’t paid this month. This company is buttoned up. The person I spoke with took another credit card number and once the amount cleared, deleted it from my file on my promise to call in with the new number. All this was confirmed minutes later in an email. Wow.

There’s hope that one scofflaw has been caught. While I didn’t get my new card from the bank, I did get a document regarding the Target purchase. I signed and returned it, affirming that I hadn’t authorized anyone to use my credit card.

Have you noticed or heard that such theft is happening with increasing frequency? Do you take steps to protect your cards or is the problem unstoppable so you don’t bother? Do you have tips to cut down on the time lost to mop up after such incidents?

protect credit card


Service of What’s in a Name

November 2nd, 2015

Categories: Bequests, College, Name, Uncategorized, Wills

Hello my name is

You may have read that a state judge ruled that Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks could not change or alter its name to Joan Weill-Paul Smith’s College. The 1,000 student private college hoped to overturn a 1937 bequest by the son of Paul Smith which stipulated that the college would “be ever known” as Paul Smith’s College of Arts and Sciences. Mrs. Weill, the wife of financier Sanford Weill, was planning to pledge $20 million to secure the name change. She knew about the college because she’d owned a home nearby. 

Paul Smith's College of Arts and Sciences

Paul Smith’s College of Arts and Sciences

“While the college has argued that the stipulation ‘nearly fatally impedes the ability of Paul Smith’s to seek large gifts from a single donor in order to make the investments it needs to remain viable,’ Judge John T. Ellis of State Supreme Court in Franklin County ruled that Weill’s pledge did not give the college license to violate the provision in its founder’s will enshrining his father’s name on the college in perpetuity,” according to Philanthropy News Digest.

“Disputes over naming rights have become more common in recent years and include the transformation of Avery Fisher Hall in New York City into David Geffen Hall and the renaming of the Miami Art Museum as the Jorge M. Pérez Art Museum of Miami-Dade. ‘This decision is a big, big deal,’ said Doug White, an adviser to philanthropists and nonprofits who teaches at Columbia University. ‘It’ll help define what the court system thinks of the idea of changing the name of an organization like this.’” 



According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, this year only nine of the top 100 gifts from Americans have been anonymous so Mrs. Weill is in good company. Anonymity, wrote Lorne Manly in “Privacy Matters” in The New York Times, is the choice of those who don’t want to be bothered by others looking for support, don’t like publicity or who believe, as did Maimonides, that such obscurity is a good thing–sixth in the eight levels of giving.

I wrote in an earlier post that promoting a high profile person who gives a large donation helps draw in additional money far better these days than a heart-wrenching story. For this reason, do you believe that the law should be changed to help a small institution like Paul Smith’s modify its name? If your college had a new name, would you care? Is holding to some 78 year old bequest ridiculous? If you were Mrs. Weill would you give the money even if the college can’t modify its name?

Changes coming

Service of Sales Promotions: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

October 29th, 2015

Categories: Customer Service, Discounts, Food, Promotions, Retail

Sales Promotion

Take Care: The Good

I got a generous 30 percent discount offer for online purchases from CVS, a pharmacy chain. Among other things I ordered a $45 OTC product my husband eats like popcorn. I’ve taken advantage of this offer many times.

CVS logoWhether in the store or online, I am very careful to choose the right version as there’s one for kids that looks pretty much the same as the one he uses. So I was surprised when I opened the box and there was the kid’s version. I clearly clicked the wrong package–I hadn’t reviewed the order when the email confirmation arrived. [I'd never made a mistake like this before.] I called customer service, admitted my mistake and was given a bunch of options. I chose to return the box of kid’s stuff to a retail store and the cashier gave me a gift card equivalent to the amount I’d paid: A seamless collaboration between online and retail operations. I’m a fan.

Fishy: The Bad

fresh fishI get email notices of special promotions from a fish store that assumes that everyone has a big family: You get a free pound of the fish of the day if you pay for a pound. If you like fresh fish–which is why people shop here–freezing the extra won’t do. So while it may seem like a great deal, it’s of little use to some–such as me. Why not just offer a smaller percentage off per pound?

Hot Dog! The Ugly

As I left to run errands I noticed a crowd of students who attend a college down the street from my office, gathered around a table on the sidewalk in front of a small food establishment. You often see a person handing out food samples in little cups from a tray. Tables on a city sidewalk are unusual.

hot dogOn my return only three people were in an orderly line so I could see what was on the table and I joined the line.  Along with a sign declaring “free hotdogs” were two bottles of condiments and a tray with the snacks. The line moved quickly, I was next and there was one dog left. Just then a man arrived at the table from the other side and he stopped. The server looked at me, looked at him, and handed him the last hotdog.

I calmly said to the server “You made a mistake. You saw I was next. My office is two doors up. I was about to tell the 10 young men in my office about this business–they order out daily. I won’t now.” She stuttered that there were more inside but I was off.

What a shame: The owner meant well and now someone on staff has turned off a potential customer who will never go inside only to expect to be faced with similar discrimination. Also lost is positive word-of-mouth, the best marketing tool there is for a food place.

Can you share any good or bad promotions of late?

Buy 3 for the price of 3

Service of Two-Wheelers: Good for the NYC Orthopedic Business

October 26th, 2015

Categories: Bicycles, Traffic, Travel

Bicycle Shots Oct 2015 003

I’ve written before about bicycles in NYC, the first time when the cycling program was announced in July 2012 and several times since. In a post a few months ago I described two near-miss crashes as I crossed the street with the light and bicycles ignored me.

A recent traffic alteration in my midtown Manhattan neighborhood inspired me to cover the subject again. It underscores my opinion that this city is not bicycle-appropriate and that bicycles are neither traffic nor pedestrian-friendly.

Bicycle Shots Oct 2015 004New to the East 50s on First Avenue is a bicycle lane next to the curb where cars have parked for decades. [See the photo above. That line of cars is parked!] Parked cars use up what had been a traffic lane [which should strangle the movement of vehicles on the Avenue]. Drivers backing up to park in one of these spaces will temporarily intrude on a third traffic lane slowing movement even more.

Crossing NYC Street 003 flipThis strategy, designed to protect bike riders, must have been made by a person who doesn’t walk the streets of New York or who isn’t observant. New Yorkers don’t stand on the sidewalk to wait for a green light to cross a street, they stand in the street. Potential BOOM! [The man in the photo at left isn't even looking in the direction of oncoming traffic!] And when drivers push open their car doors to get out, how many will watch for zigzagging bicyclists? BOOM again with potential broken bones and work for auto body repair shops.

Yellow caution tapeThursday morning the city cordoned off all the First Avenue bike lanes with yellow caution tape from 49th to at least 54th Streets. I couldn’t see any reason for it and there was nobody to ask. Where did the bikers go? They were forced to squeeze into the traffic. Argh. [See the photo below.] By Friday morning the tape was still there, only on the ground, as were the toppled traffic cones they were taped to.

I’m not anti-bike; I’m increasingly not a fan of bicycles in midtown Manhattan where I don’t think they belong. I doubt they alleviate substantially the need for motor vehicles to justify their pride of place. And you?

 Bicycle Shots Oct 2015 006 flip

Service of Taking Stock of an Unusual Gift Idea

October 22nd, 2015

Categories: Gift Cards, Gifts, Stocks

Gift card

Here’s a new idea: Spend $29.95 for a gift card [$4.95] worth $25 of stock in a choice of some 20 companies such as Tesla Motors, Nike, Coca-Cola, Apple or Facebook. You’ll find the cards in stores like Office Depot and Kmart [and before the holidays expect to see them in Safeway, Toys "R" Us and Lowe's]. You can also buy cards worth $50 and $100.

To activate the card, the recipient registers it on the Stockpile website. That’s the company that invented the concept. While there are no monthly or activation fees, wrote Robin Sidel in “Shopping List: Milk, Bread, Equities,” in The Wall Street Journal, it costs 99 cents per transaction to sell or buy.

Savings bond“The cards work like traditional gift cards but recipients receive stock instead of merchandise when they cash them in. If they want, customers can swap the shares they have received for other stock.” Sidel quoted a market strategist as likening the cards to savings bonds that children received as gifts in days of yore. [The buyer paid, say, $18 and in x years the recipient could redeem the bond for $25.]

Gift cards are popular with consumers. Last year, wrote Sidel, we bought $93.9 billion worth. “Only 13.8% of U.S. families own stock directly, down from nearly 18% before the financial crisis,” according to the Federal Reserve, Sidel reported.

Two old womenMany years ago a friend gave his elderly housebound mother and aunt, who lived together, small amounts of stock. It gave them something to look forward to: They followed the market daily, and had skin in the game–but not enough to jeopardize their or their nephew/son’s futures. It was a delight to see their enthusiasm on a subject about which they knew nothing before he’d introduced them to stocks.

It’s too early to tell whether the concept will change the investment landscape, wrote Sidel. Do you think it has a chance to do that? Would his kind of purchase appeal to you as a gift? Do you think it will make money for the recipient or just for Stockpile? I wonder what the tax ramifications will be, if any.

Gift card 2

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