Hard Day, Better Evening


The picture above is partly for my parents’ benefit, who were innocent bystanders when Vivian, for whatever reason (we suspect her molars might be coming in) had a 30 minute meltdown that left both Erin and myself running for cover. She’s been fragile for most of the day as well.

But she perked up this evening, and spent some time walking with Erin through the townhouse complex, playing with sidewalk chalk, sliding down the playground slide, and heading inside when it was time for dinner. Which was spaghetti, as you can see above.

I appreciate my parents’ concern, though I’m a little perplexed. Didn’t you tell me that there would be days like these? Isn’t that what parents are supposed to say? ;-)

Vivian is heading to bed, now. So far, no screaming.

By Far the Stupidest Idea Ever to Hit Retail

It’s official: gift cards have gone too far.

These slips are, I have to admit, elegant, and a convenient package to slip into a birthday card. I know I’ve happily used gift cards for gas, coffee, clothing and a whole host of other things. They’re also an excellent way to promote the store. So, why not have a rack of them in the local grocery supermarket or drug store? If anybody wants to pick up $15 worth of future Starbucks for a friend while shopping for tampons, who am I to stop them?

But then I came upon the VISA “Treat Yourself” gift card which, when purchased, can be used anywhere VISA is accepted.

Just like a VISA credit card.

Yes, unlike a store-only gift card, there truly are no limits. Have one of these babies in your pocket, and you can whip it out anywhere the fancy takes you: at a hair salon, in the hardware store, or down at the hotdog stand on the beach, assuming it has an electronic card reading device by the cash register.

Just like a VISA credit card.

So, no more do you actually have to carry a VISA credit card — or, for that matter, cash. No, you can just plunk down the gift card and say, “I won’t be paying real money for this item. No, I’ll pay for it using some of the hard earned cash that I handed VISA two months ago, which they have been kindly storing away for me, for just such an occasion.

Yes, the card might be useful as a gift to someone else, when just a cheque won’t do. But the card said “treat yourself”, not “treat a friend” (update: actually, that’s from flawed memory. It actually says “mytreat”, which suggests its use as a gift card, which makes more sense. A little more sense), which really highlights the idiocy of the concept: why hand money to VISA for an unknown purchase weeks down the line when you can have the same convenience with a VISA credit card, or even cash in your own pocket.

But wait: it gets better. Have a look at the card:

VISA Gift Card insanity

Okay, in order to have a card that duplicates $100 in your pocket, you need to spend:

  • $100.00 purchase price
  • $5.95 purchase fee
  • $2.00 monthly maintenance fee (waived for first six months)
  • $4.95 for inquiries by voice activated response
  • $3.75 for inquiries to live agent
  • You get the picture.

Oh, and the card expires.

Excuse me, VISA? I’m lending you one hundred bucks, and I have to pay you at least $5.95 for the privilege? No other gift card does this — at least, not from any establishment that wants to stay in business over the long term.

It seems to me that if a bank were to lend me one hundred bucks, they wouldn’t be handing over extra money, even if I was such a lovely customer, they jumped for joy when they counted out the cash. You sort of have the idea of me handing you money and you keeping it safe sort of backwards. You have my money, for X number of weeks. You can go invest that money. If you can’t make enough money off of that investment, well tough noogies to you. Because I happen to think that if I loan you money at negative 5.95% interest, I’m a rather stupid bank, and you are a bank robber.

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