Thursday, July 24, 2008


Can you place a price tag on convenience? Well guess what? It doesn’t matter if you can or not, because in this wonderful world in which we live, everything has a price, whether you realize it or not.

One axiom can almost always be trusted: Nothing, in life, is free.

Would you like to know a little bit about why rising gas prices are your own damn fault? Well, it’s my great pleasure to tell you. Points.

Points toward your dream vacation, points toward “free” gas, points that give you “cash” back, points that earn you miles, points that gain you anything you didn’t have before, points are the greatest scam perpetrated on chain of fools we like to call us in the history of free trade.

Nothing is free. Your points cost money. Your trip to Jamaica is going to be paid for by…(drum roll please)…you!

You silly fool! Did you really think that the cost to you was nothing? Well let’s try to think it through again, shall we?

Did you know that if there were no credit cards, that if everyone paid cash, gas prices would be, on average $0.10 - $0.25 less per gallon?

Oh, we’re quick to blame the big oil companies for the price at the pump, and let’s be clear here, they aren’t innocent little lambs in the equation, but they are not, alone, culpable for the drain on our hard earned money.

City and State taxes are included in the price, usually to the tune of more than a quarter a gallon, the oil companies need to make their own profit and aren’t taking a small share of the pie, I can assure you, the actual owners of the gas stations are being screwed—their margins are the lowest they have ever been, in many instances, operating at such a small margin that they are only breaking even.

And who’s taking the biggest piece of that pie? You guessed it, the credit card companies! They are paying for your vacation, your miles, your cash back bonus with the money you give them—at the pumps, in the stores, wherever you use your card.

Gas stations, stores, online merchants all have to account for the fee they are charged per transaction. In order to do this, they have to factor that fee into the price they charge you—for anything. It is illegal to charge more for items purchased with a credit card, or to pass the fee on to the purchaser, so a retailers only recourse is to add the fee, above and beyond the normal margin they might charge to the price of every product you buy.

Let me say that again. Whether you use a credit card to make a purchase or not, part of the price you pay on any item you purchase, carries with it an additional fee, above the margin the store hopes to make, to cover the cost levied by the credit card company in case you do choose to use a credit card for your purchase.

Everything is more expensive because credit cards exist.

If you were under the delusion that they only made their money when you didn’t pay on time, you were wrong. If you thought that your points were worth something, just think how much actual cold, hard cash you could have saved if the credit card companies weren’t taking their own cut from EVERYTHING!

Once again, your elected officials, who work for the credit card companies and big business, not you, do nothing to change this problem. Have you heard credit card reform listed on the platform of either of the presidential candidates?

No. Probably not.

Wouldn’t it be nice if, for a change, our government went to work for us and did a few things to help us out, like allow retailers to charge a lower price for cash-paying customers? Like releasing gas stations and other retailers from their obligation to not charge more for credit card users?

What price do you place on convenience? Would you run to the cash station (and coincidentally, check cards are a small, flat fee, and not a part of this problem) to get cash in order to pay for your gas if it was $0.20 less per gallon? I would.

Or even easier, would you just use your check card instead of your credit card if it made the same difference? Of course you would.

We’re so easily fooled. Free. Heh! Free vacations, free miles, free cash back, these are figments of your imagination. They are a scam perpetrated as good marketing.

If there were someone, with whom you dealt, every single day, that you knew was cheating you and making your life more difficult, how would you handle that? Would you continue to work with that person, or would you find another way?

I know he’s supposed to be a Centurion, but I have to wonder if the guy on the front of the American Express card is really a Trojan soldier, waiting inside an innocent looking card, smirking as he rapes our wallets and purses.

Nothing in life is free. And the more free it seems, the more you’re really paying. We scream and we shout and we complain about the oil companies, as if all the blame lies at their doorstep. It’s easier that way. If only it were that simple. If only free was free and we weren’t all fools.

The price of convenience is going to drive us all into debt. So, we’ll have to start charging everything. Then give them more money when we can’t pay on time.

Isn’t free fun?!?!?

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