New Consumers Section
Aware Citizens is always looking for ways to better serve our members.
Being a consumer is the universal quality that defines all human beings.
Our mission in this section is to help consumers become aware of business practices that affect them, for good or for bad,
And to provide a means of expression and action to protect their right to be treated fairly.
This is one of the new sections we will be testing to decide which to make permanent. Your opinion is important to us..
Is shipping and handling a scam?
“Hey! What is this? All cost of sales is supposed to be included in the price!”
And so it is, except for Internet and TV sales. Marketers have come up with the gimmick of adding an unregulated “S&H’ fee that is nothing but a hidden profit scheme. The excuse is that they must prepare the merchandise for shipment. The same did the suppliers of Walmart and Grandma’s and they include the cost in the advertised price. S&H manipulators also argue that they pay for shipment and the amount could be different according to mailing zone and method of shipment.
Regarding shipping costs, we have no argument. What they pay the U. S. Mail, Fedex, UPS, DHL and similar carriers is reasonable for the customer to pay apart, but the handling? Walmart and Grandma’s suppliers also had handling costs and they are not charged at the cashier but are included in the price. The fact is that the small letters referring to shipping and handling are designed to not only add to the profit but to lure the customer into considering their offer at a price cheaper than what it is.
Only postage fees paid to the carrier should be added to an item’s retail price. All other costs must be included in the price.
A car is advertised at a certain price, yet when you are ready to sign, dealer’s fees as high as $800 and all sorts of other fees appear in the mumbo-jumbo of car sales contracts that increase the price considerably: dealer’s fees, preparation fees, inspection fees, cleaning fees, all of them designed to increase the actual price after you (and worse, your spouse) already have a love affair with the car. Even when you tell the salesman you will not agree to any fees they will still be there in the sausage links of numbers when you are about to sign.
Disclosure is a mockery as the reference to these fees is comingled with a host of other information in microscopic almost illegible grey letters designed for lack of contrast with the white background. The advertised price is NEVER the price you will end up paying. If car advertising is not a mockery of truth in advertising laws, then nothing is. Next installment: How to buy a car
Responding to the growing pressure from increasingly conscious consumers, fast food franchises are enforcing upon the owners of their brand stores a new paradigm where food safety is first. They have been ordered, under penalty of loosing their franchise, that in every instance where they need to choose between food safety procedures and serving the client, the client must wait, even at the risk of losing the sale.
Not only have they imposed the rules, but they have roaming inspectors acting as enforcers. The threat to their business and the brand’s good will is real. With so many social media outlets at the disposal of customers, a single displeased client can create havoc not only in the stores breaching the rules but in Wall Street. If a social media posting goes viral the impact on sales can be worldwide. And sales do not have to slide down for Wall Street to react hysterically and cause a monumental drop in share value costing tens of millions of dollars. The brand company will not allow that to happen just because a rogue storeowner undercooked the chicken or let roaches wander about. If they must close a non-conforming store they will shut it down.
Chipotle is an example of what can happen to a company when health questions are raised over the food it serves. The once thriving firm is still trying to recuperate from the blow.
This new paradigm has not been easy to establish. For decades owners and store managers alike were concentrated on sales, the driving force behind profits and manager’s bonuses. Choosing between pleasing the customer at the counter and making sure every corner of the store was squeaky clean was in detriment of the latter. It is an uphill battle because while the bonuses for sales still exist no similar stimulus has been established for food safety.
A McDonald’s franchise company in South Florida with several stores under its belt has responded to the challenge naming its own internal food safety compliance officer to keep it informed of what needs to be done to comply. But habits die hard. Changing the mindset of people is not an easy task, but it’s a beginning.
Next installment: Why proper temperature testing is King.
Imagine you walk into any brick and mortar store, as big as Walmart or as small as Grandma’s Creations, and after you choose an item marked $10 they added $3 for “shipping and handling”, or $1, or $5, because the amount is whatever the seller decides. What would be your reaction?
Taking car buyers for a ride.
Looking out for you.