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Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Camel's Back Has Been Broken

As a practicing photographer, there are times when I need photographs fast. That is, actual pictures I can hold in my hand and work with. And, I had found a great online tool that really fit in with my needs. At Wal-Mart's website, they have an online photo-uploading tool where you can upload your pictures, choose the 1-hour developing option, and then go pick up your pictures. Seeing as how there is no Wal-Mart store in the small town where I live, I always have to drive either 15 or 30 minutes to the nearest one. At least one night a week, this isn't a problem for me, as I have a regular musical gig that I play my guitar at in Fairfield, Illinois - the site of the store that's 30 minutes away from me. I would simply upload the pictures before I left that afternoon and usually after running all my errands and getting in Fairfield, they would be ready and waiting for me to pick up and pay for. And now for the rest of the story....
This method worked so well for me for over a year until yesterday. I uploaded some pictures and planned on picking them up once I arrived in Fairfield. They uploaded fine, but when it came to the normal checkout part of the transaction, gone was the choice to pay for them when you pick them up. That's right - they no longer offer that as an option. All they accept is one of their own gift cards or a credit card as payment. Knowing that I don't like to have my personal information such as this floating willy-nilly all over the internet, just waiting for some unscrupulous person to intercept it and use it to their advantage, (oh, these types are out there, all right - believe me!), I don't like to pay using those kind of methods. What was wrong with cash when I picked them up? I've never had more than a $20.00 order at one time, and instead had smaller orders, but more of them. So, why did Wal-Mart stop accepting the "bill-me-later" option that is still mentioned on their website as a method of payment? There are several reasons but I'll tell you why.
You may remember an earlier post of mine, here, about the trouble I had trying to by an ordinary pair of headphones from Wal-Mart. In that story, I related the incident of trying to ask one of their sales representatives where they kept their headphones. I was told by this person that, "they say nobody wants headphones anymore." However, she didn't know who "they" were, so that wasn't any help in my trying to convince her that she was wrong and that people did, in fact, still use headphones and not "earbuds." In a similar incident two weeks ago, I searched for a CD Case, something to hold and protect about 100 cd's in their cases because I deejay car shows at times and need something bigger to carry all my oldies cd's in to these events. Well, in Wal-Mart and indeed no other store in Fairfield could I find one. I was told the exact same thing - nobody uses them anymore. Surely I'm not the only person in the world that works as a deejay - whose tools are their music and their headphones!
There was a time when I could find cases to hold my music, be it in albums, 45 rpm's, 8-tracks, cassettes or cd's. You needed something to hold your music in, you bought a case for it, it was that simple. And these cases could be purchased in many places in Fairfield and towns everywhere else. But, this was before Wal-Mart moved into town. Now, the places in Fairfield that used to sell music and musical supplies such as cases, have all went out of business because they couldn't compete with - guess who? Give yourself a pat on the back if you said "Wal-Mart." Everyone has heard of the stories of how when a Wal-Mart moves into a community, the small "mom and pop" stores go under. This is nothing new and I need not detail it again. Just understand that it is a fact and it happens everywhere. And as a matter of fact, Fairfield had a Wal-Mart already before this latest one was put in. This new one is a "Supercenter," one that stays open twenty-four hours a day! The old one wasn't a supercenter, just a regular store that closed every night and then opened back up the next morning. Wal-Mart convinced the city of Fairfield that it needed a supercenter instead and got the financial tax breaks that allowed them to build another store.
The word "Supercenter." What do you think that means? Wouldn't any normal person think that it meant something better than the average store? That's what I would take it to mean. However, once these "Supercenters" get in a community and drive all the small stores out of business, they start offering less and less items in their inventory. Having been a regular shopper at their old Wal-Mart, I was quite familiar with all the products they sold and all the ones I bought there myself. When the new "Supercenter" opened, I noticed several of the items that I used to purchase were no longer sold at this newer, more "super" Wal-Mart. Have you been to a Wal-Mart lately? Chances are, you have. Look around - are there things you used to buy that aren't on their shelves any more? In just this year alone they have closed their section where material and patterns to make dresses and the like were housed and even shut down their layaway section! The layaway section at Wal-Mart was always one of their selling points when their founder, Mr. Sam Walton was alive and in charge. He always believed the customer came first and that he would sell American-made items to keep Americans working. He believed in that and that's why Wal-Mart became so big. Since his death, things have really changed. Practically everything is "Made in China," yes, the very same country that makes all that stuff you hear about on the news that is always being recalled because it's hazardous or poisionous! And since his passing, there is much less selection on the shelves and have you noticed their "low prices always" have started creeping up higher than any store ever had them at before? And to top that off, now this "Wal-Mart Supercenter," which is supposed to stay open 24 hours a day, closes at the regular time the old one did and opens back up each morning. Let's see, same hours, less merchandise, less conveniences such as layaway - tell me again how this "Supercenter" concept is better?
The practice of not accepting a payment of cash to pick up my pictures like I used there last month, (when, apparently, it was agreeable for them to do so), has suddenly changed. Have you noticed a general decline in a variety of places that are getting away from the practice of wanting to accept cash? Why do you think this is? It's not because they can make more money if they accept credit cards. It's a fact that they have to pay a small transaction fee for every credit card purchase that is made. So, why would any store want to make less money? I have one word to say and you've heard it from me before. "Amero."
In Europe, they have created something called "the European Union," a group of countries all banded together for trade purposes. Their new method of currency, which supplanted the monetary system in the countries of all it's participants, is called the Euro. Doesn't that sound familiar? Euro. Amero. They are similar. In every way. There are those in our government right now, from President George Bush on down, who are trying to bring about an "American Union," and create a new monetary system for Canada, the United States and Mexico. This new monetary unit is to be called the "Amero." They are actively working on bringing this about. How better to impliment something such as this than to make our American dollar harder to use and spend or worth less than it's ever been? For further insight on this scheme to do away with our dollar, which by the way, contradicts our Constitution, search for "The NAFTA Superhighway," "Kansas City SmartPort," or even "GATT."
You may have heard the phrase "cashless society." All that means is that any money you have will be held by everybody but actually you yourself. If there's no cash, you won't need any to pay for that hamburger you want for lunch. You'll just use the money in your account somewhere and pay for it with a credit card. You ask, "what's wrong with that?" Aside from the fact that it's actually costing you more money for everything you purchase with a credit card, have you ever heard of computer glitches? If you're reading this, chances are, you have. On a good day, a computer can have a problem and lose all it's information - forever. We all know this to be the truth. And computers that have your accounts on them can have glitches just the same. Just think if the worst possible scenario arose and someone had a score to settle with you and could access your account information. Do you think the Golden Rule would stop them from taking everything you have in that account? Not on your life. Forget about all those "conspiracy theories" you hear, about a "New World Order" taking over everything. All that needs to happen is one unscrupulous person to come along and your account, along with every penny you've earned, could be wiped out. That is why a cashless society is something you or I do not want to see come about. Well, I certainly know I don't want my money under somebody else's constant control. I can only assume that you would feel the same way about your finances.

So, please think about it the next time you have a twenty-dollar bill in your hand. Feel it. It feels good having money in your hands, doesn't it? If it's a feeling you'd like to continue having, please understand that you can't continue having it if you don't speak up about it. I'm speaking up about it right now, because I like money and I want to keep on liking the feel of real money in my hand. (However infrequent that might actually be!) And one of the ways I'm speaking up is by telling you here. Another way is to stop giving my business to the stores that are actively getting away from wanting to accept my perfectly legal and tender cash. Such as Wal-Mart. That is why I will never set foot in a Wal-Mart again. I can still buy shampoo, and anything else I need, at plenty of other places!

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