Friday, June 15, 2012

Credit Card Business Practices

Over the years I've made a lot of purchases at businesses and restaurants using both credit and debit cards, and have become familiar with the various practices regarding same.  Some stores and restaurants have a business model whereby they eat the cost of allowing customers to use credit and debit cards to make purchases, accepting that doing so reduces their profit.  Some places will choose to charge a fee for all purchases or purchases under a certain dollar amount in an attempt to lessen this hit to the profits.  Some places choose to not allow certain types of credit cards (like American Express, which is notorious for the percentage it charges merchants for using its system), or to not allow credit cards at all, limiting purchases to point of sale via debit cards.

This evening, though, I saw an example of what I would consider to be an extremely unethical practice regarding credit and debit card purchases.  We visited the Tapioca Express in Union City to beat the heat with some pearl drinks.  I couldn't help noticing the sign by the cash register explaining their policy regarding credit and debit cards.  Their policy said that only debit cards were accepted and that using same would result in a 49 cent surcharge regardless of amount.  The kicker, though was that the sign said that the reason for the surcharge was that "the credit card company was charging the 49 cents."

Talk about your out and out lie.  The credit card company wasn't the reason for Tapioca Express charging 49 cents for debit card transactions.  The credit card company charges Tapioca Express X amount of money per debit card transaction.  Tapioca Express has CHOSEN to charge customers 49 cents per debit card transaction to try to alleviate the fees charged to it by various banks.  Trying to pass the "blame" for the debit card surcharge to the "credit card companies" is a gross misrepresentation and distortion of the facts.

Mind you, I don't have any particular qualms about how a business sets its credit and debit card practices.  The economy is tough, and not every business in the world is in a position to be able to absorb fees charged to it by various financial institutions for credit or debit card use.  What I do have an issue with is when a business lies about what it is doing.  Just tell the truth about the nature of the charges, or better yet, just say what the charges are, period without an explanation.  Don't lie and try to blame the surcharges on the credit card companies, your mom, global warming or rent being too damn high.

Let's face it - if you're willing to lie about why you're trying to charge 49 cents for paying with a debit card, what else are you lying about?  What other unethical practices are you performing?  And in the end, why should I bring you repeat business?  Food for thought, or in this case, pearl drinks for thought?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Doing Right While Others Do So Wrong

In my wanderings through the world, I'm generally inclined to live and let live.  I strive to treat others the way I'd like to be treated.  More often than not, I give people the benefit of the doubt, even in circumstances where I might be inclined or possibly justified to be suspicious or doubtful.  Unfortunately, more often than not, I experience scenarios or situations, sometimes repeatedly, wherein I learn that such and such a person is untrustworthy and unethical.

When such situations arise, I often strangely find myself surprised, wondering why on earth someone would do whatever it was they did...or did not do?  Surely they understand that their actions are malicious or unethical?  Surely they realize the consequences of what they do or do not do?  After all, I would never do what they did because I see how wrong it is!  How is it they don't see things the same way?

I suppose that some people are just not cut from the same cloth, as it were.  Not everyone tries to do right all of the time.  Not everyone is capable of knowing whether what they are doing is right or wrong.  Not everyone has an active conscience and certainly not everyone is ethical.

Mind you, I'm no saint, and I'm certainly not perfect, nor would I ever claim to be.  I am, however, capable of looking at my actions from an impartial third party point of view, or from someone else's point of view, and when I have wronged someone or have done something wrong I am able to admit it, ask forgiveness if needed, and make the changes I need to in my life to learn from my mistakes and become a better person.  It is a frustrating reality for me that there are some folks I know that are just not open-minded in this manner.

At the end of the day, I realize that life is a long journey.  Every time I get surprised by someone's lack of empathy or unethical behavior I get a little bit stronger and am able to deal with what ends up happening.  Sometimes I even manage to plan for what in my heart of hearts I stubbornly believe that I ought to not have to, because the person I'm dealing with will eventually learn and not do what they ought not to do.  I pray that one day having to so plan will cease being a source of frustration due to its frequency of occurrence.  I also pray that one day such planning will cease becoming necessary, but being realistic, I fear that such a day will not occur in my lifetime, let alone 100 lifetimes from now.

Dealing with other people's lack of ethics and untrustworthy behavior is my least favorite chess game to play.  I'd much prefer the ones with the board and the pieces.  P-K4?