Archive for the ‘Credit Card’ Category

Service of Cashless Restaurants

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

Photo: time.com

A recent Facebook conversation I followed was about coins. The writer said coins drove him nuts and suggested they should be canned. Most of the respondents disagreed for reasons ranging from saved coins helped pay for vacations to fondness for them. I pay for less and less with cash but am nevertheless on the side of saving coins if only for nostalgic reasons.

As I use my credit card a lot I’m fine with paying for food or anything else with mine. But plenty of folks are paid in cash or don’t have one for whatever reason. They also might not own a smartphone to access digital payment via Apple Pay for example.

Photo: infobarrel

Ritchie J. Torres, a New York City Council Member, says “the [cashless] business model is classist and racist,” according to Chris Fuhrmeister on eater.com. Torres said he sees the trend “as a way to gentrify the marketplace.”

Some 22 million Americans don’t have a bank account Furhmeister reported. An early adopter whose restaurant is now closed told him that if customers didn’t even have a debit card they most likely didn’t have a bank account and shouldn’t expect to eat in his [now defunct] restaurant.

Photo: shakeshack.com

Celebrity restaurateur Danny Meyer gave up the model in his Shake Shack burger chain because of customer complaints according to Fuhrmeister. His pricey Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants such as Union Square Café and Gramercy Tavern remain cash-free.

The impact goes beyond the poor. Furhmeister wrote: “Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter and critic, and former Eater NY editor, Melissa McCart made a salient point in her report on the topic earlier this year: ‘[I]n an era when an increasing number of restaurants no longer accept legal tender, it’s useful to think about who this system benefits most: the businesses and banks, at the expense of consumers.’ Do businesses and banks really need more power? It’s a question more local governments may want to consider.”

Photo: freecreditreport.com

There are other issues to consider, good and bad. A cashless retail business won’t be robbed. Also, many people pay the restaurant bill by credit card and leave tips in cash so that the right person gets the money. Would this continue or would the restaurant owner continue to control the tips? [Meyer, mentioned above, runs tipless restaurants as well.] The government must love the concept as there’s no revenue to hide from the tax man.

Do you pay for things mostly in cash, credit card or digitally? Do you like coins? Would you miss cash if it no longer existed? Do you agree with McCart that big time beneficiaries of the credit card/debit card only model are businesses and banks–Uncle Sam too–with consumers the losers? Will the cashless trend spread to other retail industries if it’s not stopped? Should the cashless retail model be outlawed?

Photo: freepik.com

Service of Apology IV

Monday, November 9th, 2015

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

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

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 Amazon.com–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 Click2Houston.com, “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 SaaShost.net, 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 Trade Magazines: A Gift to Businesses

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

NY Now

Earlier this week I visited a small segment of what was the International Gift Show—called NY Now these days, “tradeshow for the home, lifestyle and gift market”—highlights of which I’ve covered in past posts. I thought I’d form an impression of whether or not same sex marriage has impacted this industry’s products, color and design, but I stopped taking notes when I learned that there wasn’t a NY Now catalog to be had in the Javits Center: They’d run out–a first. OK, so everyone else studies their tablets. I miss my printed catalog, a wonderful resource.

Instead, I brought back to the office a stack of trade magazines. I’ve always had a weak spot for paper Card by egg pressgoods and Stationery Trends’ summer 2015 issue, the first one I opened, didn’t disappoint. I appreciated the hand of the cover, the stock on which it was printed, the layouts and many of the graphics of the featured cards such as one by Egg Press, “you’re my cup of tea,” photo at right, chosen to illustrate the article, “A Kinder, Gentler Navy.”

From the other issues I learned a lot about what is going on at retail, the economy and why.

Warren Shoulberg, [photo right, below], is one of the best writers, thinkers and speakers in the industry. In his opinion piece in HFN’s August 15 issue, the magazine’s editorial director covered retails’ rediscovery of outlets. After reviewing outlet history, he reported that today TJX is “outperforming virtually every other retailer in America.” [It owns TJMaxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods.] He warned that the format isn’t foolproof and mentioned the now defunct Loehman’s, Filene’s Basement and Conway. [I don’t know Conway, but to be fair the first two had long runs.] 

Photo: tallyhofarm.co.uk

Photo: tallyhofarm.co.uk

Shoulberg wrote, “what drives this channel is the pursuit of the bargain, not necessarily the bargain itself.” To make his point, Macy’s shoppers, he observed, can enjoy similar deep dish discounts if they add up all available coupons and promotions.

In his commentary in Home & Textiles Today, Shoulberg, who is editorial director here as well, explained why the home textiles and furnishings Warren Shoulbergbusinesses are faltering: fewer new households. And why is that? College grads “and other 20-somethings are increasingly moving back into—or never leaving in the first place—their parents’ homes.” Shoulberg cites Pew Research Center findings that this situation is the worst “in recent memory” including the Great Recession. This reason, he wrote, has more impact on sales of these categories than housing starts or any other. He suggested that “If the kids are back home, that’s where the industry needs to be, too.”

He doesn’t have enough to do so Shoulberg’s also a contributing columnist at Gifts and Decorative Accessories where he advised that industry to become, like others, i.e. “more highly concentrated.” He continued, “But maybe, just maybe, there are economies of scale when companies get together and join forces.” Business-wise he’s right, but I long for a burgeoning 21st Century Arts & Crafts Movement, which the most exciting and creative aspects of this industry represent. Professionally and personally there are few places I enjoy visiting more than a wonderful craft fair—and the NY Gift Show—I mean NY Now.

In her LDB Interior Textiles editorial, Wanda Jankowski reports on a major shift in attitude regarding consumer spending in this country: Since 2008, the editor-in-chief wrote, “US consumers have learned to defer product gratification and accept that they can have something they want only if they figure out how to pay for it.” Good for us, not so good for retail.

In Nicole Leinbach Reyhle’s article, “What You Need to Know Now About The Upcoming EMV Changes,” in Museums & More, I learned that credit card fraud in the U.S. is around $8.6 billion/year and that experts expect it to increase to $10 billion this year. EMV, according to Google, “is a technical standard for smart payment cards and for payment terminals and automated teller machines which accept them.” Not good, though valuable, news.

What trade or specialty magazines—online or printed—do you follow? In making business or personal financial decisions do you take seriously the impact of the trends and developments such trade pundits share? Do you think what they write about their industries has significance well beyond them?

 

 

New York Stock Exchange, photo en.wikipedia.org

New York Stock Exchange, photo en.wikipedia.org

 

 

Service of Penalties For Doing Nothing Wrong

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

pillory

I knew of a fellow whose car insurance company considered him accident prone for which he was penalized. It had nothing to do with his driving record. He’d park his car in town and on three occasions over a few years another vehicle ran into it. His mistake was to report each incident. The first insurance company dropped him and the next Parked Car hit insurer charged him more.

I wonder if a similar thing will happen to my credit rating. I understand that one of the ways to decrease your credit rating is by ordering too many cards. A few months ago I got a new credit card because Home Depot was hacked. It happened to thousands if not millions of others. We had no choice: A new card arrived in the mailbox. [A friend told me that now this store asks to see your driver’s licensee if you buy goods worth more than $50. Good.]

Credit ratingThis week, someone tried to buy food from a ShopRite supermarket in New Jersey using my credit card number. The card’s security office called to confirm that the purchase was mine because, said the security man, the store had questioned and refused the charge. I assured him I was speaking with him from my desk in NYC, my card in hand, and that it wasn’t me buying groceries. I asked how the perpetrator got my credit card number and he said that there are so many ways he couldn’t tell me which it was.

I now have a second black mark to jeopardize my rating, and also the inconvenience of seven to 10 days without a card I use almost daily. I also must notify EZ Pass of the new number, and any other service that automatically charges expenses to my card. Didn’t I just do that after the Home Depot card fix? Grump.

smartphone 3This new card business is costly for banks. No wonder credit card companies want to move 100 percent of the charging process to smartphones: Someone steals the phone and replacement is the owner’s problem. Surely the swindlers are currently figuring out how to outsmart the phones. It will also be inconvenient for those without the newest phones–which in this harsh world will just be tough for them while great for phone sales.

I wonder how ShopRite staff knew that I wasn’t using my card. We swipe cards–they never go near the cashier who might feel the quality of the plastic or notice something strange about the card’s layout. In addition to examples in insurance and credit card worlds, are we potentially penalized for other things we have no control over?

Naughty Child in corner

Service of Cash or Credit

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Credit cards

I used to pay cash for most things when someone pointed out that the most accurate way to track monthly expenses is to pay with credit cards. It’s all on the bill: Food, gas, clothing or gifts. Spend cash and it’s too easy to forget small and scattered purchases.

I’ve only been sorry when a retail operation I frequented was hacked.

I never thought of cash vs. credit/debit cards from a businesses’ point of view and was fascinated to read **Vipal Monga’s story, “Reports of Cash’s Death Are Premature,” in The Wall Street Journal. **The online version of this story is credited to Bruno Mallart, but for the purposes of this article I will quote Monga as I read the newspaper version first.

What was amazing to me was how much it costs a business that deals with the public to get their money no matter how customers choose to pay.

control spendingMonga wrote that customers who prefer cash do so because of convenience, avoidance of cyber hackers and to control spending. I would add that some are paid under the table and would rather not alert the IRS by depositing cash in a bank.

Monga continued: “Paper bills and coins remain the No.1 choice for payments, used in 40% of all transactions in October 2012, according to the most recent study by Federal Reserve banks in Boston, Richmond and San Francisco. Debit cards were used in a quarter of all transactions and credit cards in 17%. Checks and all other electronic-payment techniques made up the rest.” If they spend more than $21–the average cash transaction–most opt to use checks or electronic payments.

CashIt costs $millions for a company to handle cash or credit. Where cash is concerned, costly challenges range “from transportation and storage to theft and loss.” According to a Tufts University 2013 study about companies, they “pay about $55 billion a year to manage currency….Most of it–$40 billion—was due to theft and loss.”

Some banks no longer maintain vaults for cash, wrote Monga, and they “outsource cash storage and use technology to count cash and credit their accounts.”

Pilot Flying JMore than half of the $2.5 billion the 500 Pilot Flying J truck stops pull in is in cash. It costs the company $20 million to manage the cash vs. $100 million for credit card fees that average 2 percent of each transaction. Costs to handle cash includes “the time employees spend reconciling accounts, depositing the money, and performing tasks such as getting change from the in-store safe. The company also pays fees to banks and armored-car companies,” wrote Monga.

Do you prefer to pay by credit or debit card, check or cash? Did you realize how expensive it is for a business to be paid for goods and services?

Pay cash

Get This Blog Emailed to You:
Enter your Email


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Clicky Web Analytics