I recently stopped at a local Cumberland Farms store @cumberlandfarms to get my staple: a one dollar iced coffee.
Prior to walking in the store, I grabbed some pennies out of my cupholder, in anticipation of the total price with tax I was prepared to pay.
I’m an expert at this. I grab my cup, pour in about 3/4″ of “white death” and then splash in some hot coffee (robust blend) to dissolve the sugar. As I swirl it around, I add in 2 shots of coconut flavor, add the ice, and then go back to the counter to add some cream. Only then do I put the cold coffee in. Jam a straw in, muddle it, and put a lid on it. Voila! Instant refreshment.
As I’m standing in line waiting to pay behind several folks buying excessive amounts of lottery tickets, I notice an overwhelming display of gift cards on a rotating rack. I’m staring at and counting the different brands and cards, noticing some of these brands aren’t even in this area. Movie theaters such as AMC and Regal, along with restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory or The Melting Pot, are not within 90 minutes of this area.
I then notice all the prepaid Visa cards, like Green Dot http://www.greendot.com, MoneyPak http://www.moneypak.com and American Express http://www.americanexpress.com/prepaid. Different packaging for what appears to be variations of the same thing adds to my confusion. “Bill Pay”, “PayPal”, “Reloadable” are just some of the packaging choices. If for whatever reason you can’t get or do not want a credit card, and a debit card does not fit your needs, the reasons behind giving cash to another party to make money off the interest, and, charge you fees to use this card, are beyond me. If you want to give a cash gift to a grad, give them cash! If you need to pay a bill, and do not have a checking account and can’t bother with a money order, I do not see how these products are useful.
I sadly started to ponder the reasons. Perhaps someone has wages garnished or is avoiding paying child support, and these products just help them hide their monies. I started to feel shameful and embarrassed over these products and the circumstances that drive people to use them, and after paying my dollar and 6 pennies, just slurped on my iced coffee and left. As the caffeine surged through me as I drove away, I could only make a wish upon my sweet treat that others see the banality in all this e-commerce and just return to sending a letter or a card with some cash stashed away in it, like Grandma would’ve done!