Friday, June 15, 2007

Life Takes Anything--It's Visa That's The Kicker


When I see the Visa Check Card commercials, my warning antennae go up and flutter furiously. They are masterfully staged and choreographed. The film and lighting brings out the most brilliant notes of color from the food, beverage, merchandise and retail outlet fixtures. The music calls to mind Looney Tune cartoons of the 40's and 50's. The music evokes industry and efficiency. There is one called "Garden Store." Life is so perfect that water hoses shoot the water up in the air, the water arcs and lands precisely in the awaiting flower pots. Potted plant buyers whisk pass the lady at the debit/credit processing box. Life is as it should be: the consumers make purchases and the retailer rakes it in.

Everything runs a-foul when a consumer tries to pay other than with the Visa Check Card. In the "Garden Store" ad when a lady begins to write a check, the flowers wilt in their pots. The ad entitled, "The One with The Cash" has something like a multi-car pile up, except its humans holding food-ladened trays. Once, the odd cash carrying customer receives his change, the scene returns to normalcy--food selected, card swiped and bank account charged. There's a pizza store in the Fulton Mall, off of Adam Street in downtown Brooklyn that operates similarly during lunch time but they still accept cash. There's one worker whose job it is to bang his hand on the counter and cry "Next!"

What concerns me is the emergence of the cashless society. Many science fiction shows of the 70's and 80's have treated the subject. The cashless society is on the cusp and society still doesn't have a grip on identity theft, computer hacking or system crashes. Heaven forbid a transnational corporation relied on Windows or Vista for its total network. The Visa Check Card advertisements states, "Life takes faster money. Life takes Visa." With computer glitches and compromises around, perhaps we should slow down.

Earlier this morning, a colleague experienced such a glitch. Mirielle Massac, PR Director for Child Development Support Corporation, thought she had reserved a U Haul truck the night before. She walks into the local U Haul center to pick up the truck. They had no record of the order. Massac had called just after they closed and so her call was bounced from the local retailer's phone number to the central call center. She gave her name and credit card number. U Haul gave her a confirmation number. It's good that she wrote the number down. She had to retrieve it to use it as proof for the U Haul center down the street.

Can you imagine how frequently such incidents would occur if, people actually fell into plastic dependency? Imagine a time where there are no greenbacks and checks--just electronic money and online account statements. Yes, I grew up on "Night Gallery", "The Outer Limits" and "Twilight Zone". I also see occasionally 48 Hours, 60 Minutes and Dateline. Me? I say, "Let the cashier do his work." Life is at your pace.

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