No, We Don't Take Cash
Have you seen the new Visa check card commercial that shows lunchtime in the fast-moving deli?
If you haven't, take a look at it here.
A clockwork-operation comes to a crashing halt when some schlub pays for his lunch with actual cash -- horrors! -- instead of a Visa check card.
Now, more than most, I'd say, I like to move quickly through checkout lines. A checkout line at a lunch place or a convenience store is not a place for unspooling your personal narrative, not a place to pay with change, not a place to try to return a half-eaten muffin, not a place to -- mid-checkout -- realize you forgot milk, walk to the cooler, get milk and come back to the same place in line, and it's not a place to hold everyone up while you play King of Commerce.
In fact, my friend Hank and I once came up with the idea of a Simple Person Card. It's for people who have enough money to pay for what they want, know exactly what they want and have it in their hands, most certainly are not buying lottery tickets and do not seek to form a meaningful relationship with the checkout clerk. If you have a Simple Person Card, you get to go to a special register, ring up and get the heck OUT and on with the rest of your life because you have more to do than loiter in a 7-Eleven.
All that being said, I think the new Visa check card ad carries an insidious anti-cash bias.
Clearly, Visa wants you to use their check card because they want you to be their customer. Visa has zero gain if you use cash to pay for something, rather than their check card.
Fine. They're in the business of selling check cards.
However, this ad creates social shame for using cash. The way you change behavior is to shame individuals before their peers, to get them to realize it's in their interest to conform or else be shunned. In this ad, the guy paying cash blows up the orderly system of the deli (i.e., society), bringing the scorn of his peers. The look on the checkout clerk's face is one of embarrassment. The money even looks a little dirty.
What's your anti-cash bias story? Are you down with getting rid of cash? Hey, I see the benefit -- I'm the only one who touches my credit and debit cards, generally, while the cash in my wallet (I don't even like to think about it) has been touched, fondled, rubbed and sat on by countless others.
But I'm not sure I want to be shamed into becoming cashless. What say you?
* Here's an early, rough-cut trailer for "Spider-Man 3," due out next summer. Note how some of the action scenes -- Spidey swinging among buildings, for instance -- is represented by digital animation as a placeholder before the final CGI work is done. Also, there's a couple of blue-screen shots. It's sort of a neat, behind-the-scenes look at how a film with copious digital special effects comes together. Here's Sony's high-def version of the trailer on iFlim.
* Your cell phone should be free, Google says. That is, if you're willing to accept advertising on it. Everyone from AOL to CBS online is moving toward a model of providing content for free that is supported by advertising. But how much will consumers swallow?
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