Monday, March 12, 2007

Less bang for your bucks....

According to the Independent, Peter Ayliffe, CEO of Visa said:-

"by 2012, using credit and debit cards should be cheaper and more convenient than cash".

Cheaper than cash? Yep, apparently:-

"retailers could soon start surcharging customers if they choose to buy products with cash"

Hmmm, well a number of my friends have recently complained that they've been sent a fee for not using their credit card often enough. According to one of them, the apparent "reason" for this is basically they weren't making enough money for the bank.

This is quite concerning, but it seems that there is a growing trend towards imposing such annual fees according to the BBC.

So, soon it'll be cheaper to use your card than cash (because cash will be surcharged) and banks are going to start charging you for the privilege of using their services, especially if you don't use them much.

That's another way of saying - your savings are our financial opportunity. In other words, if you have small amounts of money, low interest rates and you avoid debt by saving then please just go hand your money into your local "money" service with the kind words:-

"there you go, you've earned it".

I can understand that some of them must be a bit strapped for cash, only estimated to earn in profit more than the GDP of Luxembourg. I often find myself feeling the same way ..... if only I had a few more billion.

Hence I do understand what "cashless" society means; it means I'm going to have less cash than I used to or my bucks are going to be worth less.

They have got to be kidding, right?

The net effect would be in the long run to disadvantage those whom use cash, and do not want to or either cannot partake in the debt frenzy or be involved with the financial services for personal or other reasons. We should especially not disadvantage those that save or can least afford.

Now money & banking services are infra-structural (or essential) needs of society, just like power, water, food etc. Now it's reasonable that I should be charged for what I use (utility consumption), and in many case pay a fee for access to the service.

However is it reasonable that the cost of access to such services should vary according to how much I use them?

Maybe I don't buy enough food for the supermarkets liking - would it be reasonable for them to charge me extra for access?

Maybe I don't consume as much electricity as the power company would like - would it be reasonable to therefore increase my access charge because I don't use enough?

No it's not reasonable! It discriminates against thrift and those who can least afford to pay, but must pay.

So here is a petition (I'm waiting for them to approve it, so it may not be there yet) to make it an offence to:-

  • financially discriminate against cash customers by providing a service at a lower rate than that which would be charged to a customer paying in cash.
  • financially discriminate against savers as opposed to other consumers.
  • financially discriminate against consumers for connection or access to an essential service (banking, power, communication, water, food etc) because of a low rate of consumption.

I've called it Wealth-Neutral (as in Net-Neutrality) since it relates to access, but obviously I need to fit within the 16 character limit of E-Petitions