The holiday season is rapidly approaching as you can see retailers across the country lining their aisles with Christmas items and the Starbuck’s of the world changing their cups over to the traditional holiday décor. When I lived in the New York City area, I can vividly remember during the holiday season the legions of Salvation Army Santa Clauses outside of the department stores ringing their bells for donations from your pocketful of change. It’s nice to donate during the holiday season to give to the less fortunate, but what I have seen retailers doing around the country in the past year or two has officially gotten under my skin as they now want us to do double duty as their customers.
The requests officially sent me over the edge this weekend when I took my children to shop at the store Five Below. When we take our hard earned money to retailers, the big question is do they make profit on us or are they in the not for profit business? Apparently, they have decided now that they are in both businesses. After rounding up several baskets in the store chock full of candy, headphones, t-shirts, and school stuff, we had about $75 dollars worth of different purchases throughout the store. When I came to settle my bill at the cash register the checkout woman said, “Would you like to add a donation to the Red Cross today to support Hurricane Sandy?” I replied, “Why, that is so nice of Five Below! How much will you be donating from my $75 purchase?” The woman looked at me with a Medusa like stare in bewilderment of my question. She said, “No no, you don’t understand sir. I was wondering if you wanted to make a donation today.” I told her that I understood perfectly and I thought Five Below should not be asking me to make a donation right after I made them PROFIT! If they wanted to take a piece of the profit they made from me and made a donation to the Red Cross, then that would be a very kind gesture. Asking me for more money at the cash register is just flat out bad business.
Note to corporations . . . If you are trying to consider yourself to be in the “good citizen” category, then figure out how you want to do this as an organization with your own human and financial resources. Companies like Publix continue to ask me to make a donation every single time that I pass through the cash register and websites like www.godaddy.com do it subtly by asking if you want to round up your bill to the nearest dollar and they will donate the change to the good cause that they support. It’s nice how companies want to support all of these wonderful causes off of my dollars. I think it’s best to let me decide the places that I would like to charitably donate my money, especially when I am shopping at a for profit institution. This corporate practice is almost as agitating as the companies that ask you if you have one of their ‘savings’ cards only to swipe a card anyway if you tell them that you don’t have one. Now, does any of this make any sense at all??
So what smart money moves can we make from all of this? Well, I certainly wasn’t asking to have Jack Frost nipping at my wallet anytime I go to a store to buy some products or services that I need. Thus, all I can officially do is to boycott the stores that use these kinds of practices. In my opinion, it is just simply bad business to be asking your customers for more money right after they spent money in your store. Listen up companies; donate a piece of your profit . . . not mine! That’s my stocking stuffer to start the holiday season.
Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder of oXYGen Financial, Inc – The Leaders in Gen X & Y Financial Advice and Services
Ted Jenkin is one of the foremost knowledgeable professionals in giving financial advice to the X and Y Generation.
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