Capitalism is insidious. Those of us with modest incomes—and I’m quite aware that many, many people are poor—are constantly being bombarded with new schemes to get us to pay a little each time for something that used to be free. Look, I realize the economy was hit by the pandemic. We’re all paying for it. Still, even basic stores you’ve used your whole life now want you to sign up for schemes that will only cost you a dollar each time and which never really pay anything back. The one that’s got me thinking about this is a drug store. Like it’s a surprise that you’ve decided to buy something at a drug store. They get you to sign something you vaguely understand as you’re trying to rush out the door with your prescription and then they send you daily emails telling you how great it’s going to be.
And surveys—the endless surveys! They sound more neurotic than I actually am. Did we do this right, and could we have done it better? It’ll only take a quarter hour of your time. Each time you stop in. And please do that daily. The last time I did one of these surveys for the promise of a prize worth $90, I ordered their version of a fit-bit as my prize. I’m curious how many steps I take in a day and no, I don’t carry my phone with me everywhere. The “prize” arrived late and when I charged it up and turned it on (it came with no instructions readable in my native language) it worked for a total of literally 3 seconds before the screen died a pixelated death. Now that same company wants me to answer surveys weekly and pay an extra dollar each time I come in. It’s enough to make me want to use the other drug store, but they’ll probably do the same.
The thing is it’s not just pharmacies. All the stores are doing it. You shopped here once? Look what else we’ve got! Some of us shop for what we need. We live on a budget. If you’re going to start charging me for the privilege of shopping at your establishment I’ll have to start going somewhere else. The items on offer for promotional plans are things I just don’t buy. If you want me to spend more, then reframe your economics and pay me more. And I don’t have money to just give away. Have you even taken a look at your last heating bill (thanks Mr. Putin)? I’ll come to the store again as long as it’s free to shop there and it has something that I actually need.