I’m coming up to an important anniversary this summer. It will soon be four years since I last used a credit card. Guess what .. I really don’t miss those troublesome pieces of plastic.
As a result, I’m a somewhat disinterested spectator as Walmart does battle with Visa in Canada. The world’s largest retailer has served notice that beginning next month, they will begin refusing to accept Visa cards in their Canadian stores. The company says it pays more than $100 million in fees to all Canadian credit card companies every year, and Visa is the worst offender.
The Visa folks responded with an open letter that they placed in several major Canadian newspapers. They accused Walmart of using Canadian shoppers as pawns in a fight that should be resolved by the suits behind closed doors.
The story has further illustrated some rather unflattering facts about how we behave in the great marketplace. We’re told that credit card interest rates in Canada are five times higher than they are in Europe, and three times higher than they are in Australia. Does this sound familiar? Other consumer watchdogs wonder why Canadians willingly pay substantially higher rates than others in the world for internet and wireless phone service.
Why do these companies do this to us? The answer is my very favourite three word phrase .. “Because they can”. Like those gasoline prices, we sometimes get the level of competition we deserve, because no one is prepared to do anything about it.
Can you imagine what might happen to the Canadian economy if everyone did what I did four years ago and took the scissors to the plastic? It’s highly unlikely that we’ll ever find out, and that is truly unfortunate.
Still the best mantra I ever heard .. “Pay as you go, and if you can’t pay, don’t go”.
I’m Roger Currie