CBC Radio

CBC Marketplace - Checkout Charity

by Samantha on February 16, 2015

CBC program investigates the popular trend of soliciting donations at the checkout

marketplace

“Checkout Charity” is a thing.

Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay.

I’ve discussed the topic on more than one occasion, both on this blog and in the media. For details, click on the link below.

IN THE NEWS: Is “Checkout Charity” Just a Money Grab?

checkout aisle

Seems like I’m not the only one who’s fed up with this sneaky way of gathering funds. Consumers in general, are becoming fatigued with the amount of requests that occur on a regular basis. Enough that Canada’s leading consumer investigative show, Marketplace, decided to look into this increasingly popular practice.

I was interviewed for the show and of course gave my two cents. Tune in on Friday, February 20th to watch the full show. I’ll post a link to the program and do a follow-up post once it’s aired as well.

PREVIEW: CHECKOUT CHARITY - DOING GOOD, FEELING BAD

CBC NEWS INTERVIEW: VIEWER FEEDBACK PRE-SHOW

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How do you feel about being asked for money at the checkout counter?

checkout counter

Forgive the fact that this post doesn’t have much to do with Parenting and Kids as per usual, but I really need to get this off my chest. Thanks.

Checkout Charity

As I unwittingly approach the cash register, items in hand, little do I know what’s about to occur. You see, what I thought was an innocent trip to the store to purchase milk/wine/clothes/[insert item here] has become a battle of wills and a test of my ability to overcome what we all secretly fear: Public shame.

Yes – what I thought was a mundane daily errand has become a thing. You know – something that will evoke a strong emotion, and a subject that you will recount sheepishly to your family and friends, after the fact.

“That’ll be $24.72, please. And would you like to donate $2 to the ABC charity?”

We all know the score.

As consumers, we’re increasingly being tested and potentially shamed at the checkout counter.

This relatively new corporate method of money collecting is what I think is an insidious and downright unfair method of achieving a company goal.

Yes – charities need money, but do they need to shame unsuspecting consumers in the process?

There’s little warning when and where this sneaky yet popular type of occurrence will happen. You may think that you’re getting a carton of milk and some bread at the supermarket, yet said supermarket thinks otherwise.

You’re a target and a potential donator of funds to what is oftentimes a very unclear, murky “charity” that you’ve been asked to support.

The common thread regarding these types of incidences is that little if no information is given by the requestor (in most cases, a cashier), yet the requestee (you or I) is expected to hand over some money.

How is this right or fair?

I don’t think that it is.

Here is what I think.

Using a “gotcha” technique that is based on surprise, intimidation and, let’s face it, humiliation, is not one that sits well with me. And I don’t think that I’m the only one who feels this way.

Pressuring consumers to give money to charities about which they’ve been provided NO information is just wrong.

Are the companies getting a tax break on my after tax dollars that I may be donating? I don’t know.

How is my money going to be allocated? What percentage of my $1 or $2 is going to administration and what percentage is going to everything else?

This information is never given, yet I’m supposed to give them money.

I don’t think so.

Until both the charity and the business that is requesting money on behalf of said charity is completely transparent about how this money is being spent, I’m not about to hand over funds. Further, using the embarrassment factor, that is, hoping I’ll say “yes” just so that I don’t seem like a cheapskate in front of the people who are standing in line behind me, is sneaky, underhanded and downright wrong.

Do I want to donate $2 to ABC Charity? Perhaps. But I’ll do the research and determine how, when if and how much I will provide to said charity on my own time.

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This was the crux of a “rant” that I did for CBC The 180 about an increasingly popular  tactic of consumers being asked to donate to charity while paying for items at the checkout line. Here’s a link to the rant:

Rant Against “Checkout Charity”

Having written about this topic before and discussing my extreme distaste for it, CBC wanted to know if I still felt this way and, more importantly, if my opinion on the topic was representative of so many others who are unsuspectingly “hijacked at the checkout.”

The short answer to both questions is “yes.”

“Checkout charity” has become even more prevalent than it was even a few years ago, and my disdain for the tactic is, apparently, not unusual. I’ve written extensively about having to deal with a “Meltdown in Aisle 5” - the challenges of shopping with young kids in tow; imagine now trying to add yet another variable to the mix? Screaming kid(s), a shopping cart full of items and an opportunity for yet further humiliation by being asked for money for charity and having to either

a) say yes, just to save face and salvage what little dignity you have left, or

b) say “no” and prove to all those in line behind you that yes, indeed - you are a horrible person (screaming child notwithstanding).

As part of a segment on the subject including my rant (above) a poll done by the CBC 180 on this very topic revealed that over 82 percent of those polled agreed that this type of charity collection felt like “an ambush for alms.” In other words, most people don’t like it. To be more specific, people seem to particularly despise being “ambushed” when all they really wanted was to buy an item or two and head out on their way.

It doesn’t seem to matter what type of items are being purchased, either. They could range from milk and eggs to wine, spirits, hardware or clothing. Anything and everything is a seeming opportunity for a checkout request for donations, much to the chagrin and often, the embarrassment, of those being asked.

To say “no” could render one earmarked as a “cheapskate,” a “Scrooge” or perhaps just an unfeeling, insensitive sod in front of the checkout line of people who are in full earshot of the request. For those who are more prone to public embarrassment and who dread the prospect of being publicly shamed, it may seem to be the lesser of two evils to begrudgingly submit the few bucks just to save face. Say “yes” and you’re absolved of any perception of cheapness. Say “no” and you’re a mean-spirited, cheap and unkind person who doesn’t care about others. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?

I welcomed the opportunity to once again state my opinion and to speak for all those (of whom there are many) who agree that being ambushed for money when all you were looking for was a carton of milk (or otherwise) is just plain uncool.

Following the CBC “rant,” they did a follow up show where my (and many others’) dislike for this particular tactic was counter-balanced by feedback from charities and those who support this type of thing. You can read the full show notes here, as well as listen to the segment that is linked on the page (click on the “Listen” button under the image):

The Case For and Against Checkout Charity - CBC The 180

Check out the Twitter commentary and comments included in the post. Seems like I’m not the only one who is irritated by this method of money collection. Here are some examples:

The whole thing seemed to hit a collective nerve. Who knew? Apparently so many more of us are completely unimpressed by this new method of money collection. Ellen Roseman, resident Consumer Advocate for the Toronto Star called, following the CBC interviews, and wanted to discuss this topic as well. I did the interview, which can be read here:

 

 

Some items related to “checkout charity” that are questionable:
  • Donations are not tracked or acknowledged and donators are not given a tax receipt, even though the organization will receive a charitable break on their own taxes, as well as being seen as a “good corporate citizen
  • Why aren’t donations tracked the same way businesses easily track loyalty points - through a dedicated card or similar system? This way, the donation can be recognized and filed as part of the donator’s tax return
  • The request for donations is to be given from our after tax dollars - this means that we’re being taxed on our net income, getting no recognition or tax break for it, but the organization that is asking is getting one
  • Little or no information is given when the request for money is made. How is a person supposed to make a conscientious decision about donating when they don’t have all the facts? These include:
    • Details about the charity - what they stand for
    • How funds in the charity are allocated - percentages for administration, expenses, etc.
    • How much has the business asking for the money donated to said charity?

As you can see, there are so many questions surrounding this topic, yet so little answers. The topic is a hot one; apparently there are still more of us who are irritated by this increasingly popular practice.

Reuters came calling as a result of the radio and newspaper articles and I stood firm on my position. This practice is apparently ramping up around the holiday season, all across North America (Canada and the U.S. are equally affected). Here’s the full article/interview:

Checkout Charity: Get Ready For the Cash Register Ambush

So, it’s a thing now. Whether we like it or not, it appears that “checkout charity” is here to stay. Yet so many of us are increasingly uncomfortable with this method of collecting money, and still it continues. The question is, “why?” And what can we, as consumers, do to stop this type of underhanded tactic?

Any suggestions? I welcome your commentary and feedback. Please leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.   

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CBC Radio Interviews - Lice, Kids and School

by Samantha on October 11, 2014

Your kid comes home with lice. Who's responsible?

n-KID-LICE-CHECK-large570

We as parents wait with bated breath for the dreaded letter.

It usually starts out something like this:

A case of pediculosis has been identified in your child’s class…” yada, yada, yada. You get the point. Someone in your kid’s class has LICE! You are freaking out, especially if you are a first-time parent and never have had to deal with this scourge.

As a mother of four, I have had the dreaded letter sent home one too many times, and have dealt with it - and more. Let’s just say that it’s no fun and yes - it’s a hassle to say the least.

Lice - those pesky little critters that get into hair and so much more - have become the scourge of parenting in the 21st century. Not sure what happened but there’s been a proliferation of the dreaded creatures and our kids - and oftentimes their unwitting families -  are the victims.

But who’s to blame?

  • Is it the parents of the children who are bringing these horrible little bugs to school?
  • Is it the kids themselves who, through their actions (innocent or not) perpetuate the proliferation of these dreaded creatures?
  • Is it the school board for not having a more comprehensive educational program to teach both parents and kids how to avoid the scourge of lice?

The reality is that it’s a combination of all of these factors, but I strongly lean towards the third as a key component that is not being addressed as much as it should be. There needs to be a concentrated effort on the part of educators at the school level about how to deal with lice as, let’s face it - it’s at school that kids usually pick up these pesky creatures and bring them home to their families.

CBC Radio Metro Morning

I was recently back on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning to discuss this timely and touchy topic.

Here is a link to the full interview:

Metro Morning - Head Lice and Schools

As a result of the interview, I was asked by CBC Radio’s sister program Ontario Morning to discuss the topic, which I can share with you - scroll down for a link to the clip below.

Some other points that were addressed during both interviews was the rise of “Lice Squads” - enterprising entrepreneurs who - for a fee (often more than $200), will come to your home and delouse your child of the dreaded pests. In many cases, “Lice Parties” are taking away the stigma - and the pests - by normalizing the infestation and by making the delousing actually fun - parents are having wine and cheese in many instances while their kids are getting nits and eggs removed from their heads. I guess this is an example of life giving you lemons and you deciding to make lemonade…or sangria, as it were…

Anyway, all be well and good for those who have the money (the cost is per child, so if you have two or three kids, you can do the math and figure out that delousing the family could get pretty pricey), but what about those who are struggling financially and can’t come up with what would be considered a very expensive way of getting rid of a difficult problem? The issue of inequality of opportunity arises - in other words, if you don’t have the cash, you may have a much more difficult time dealing with ridding your family of these horrible critters. And we haven’t even touched upon the question of stigma - because we all know that those kids who have had persistent bouts of lice and have had difficulty getting rid of them are stigmatized, at least to some degree.

Finally, let’s not forget what all of us parents who have been in the trenches of parenthood for years have known - the “lice letter” that comes in the fall is often one of many that occurs throughout the school year. Again - do the math and these pesky critters can cost a family a lot more than inconvenience.

So what’s the solution?

Ontario Morning

You can listen to my interview with Ontario Morning here (link to iTunes Ontario Morning feed) - The episode is from September 30th 2014 - skip to 40:25 for my segment (it’s at the end of the program):

Ontario Morning Interview - Lice, Kids and School

Of course there are many natural ways of removing lice which don’t cost an astronomical amount and don’t employ the usage of very caustic and often toxic chemicals. Who wants to put that on a child’s head? Some advice and tips on details about natural lice removal can be found in the links below:

How to Kill Lice Naturally

Natural Lice Treatment

Home Remedies For Lice

So what are your thoughts? How do we deal with this yearly, pesky problem that occurs in our schools and spreads to our homes? Who’s responsible and how do we rid ourselves of these horrible critters? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

Image courtesy of www.huffingtonpost.com

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CBC Radio Interview: Kids and Email

by Samantha on September 4, 2014

Should parents allow their children to have email and online accounts?

Gmail Does your child have an email account? Why or why not?

This is a question that I addressed on CBC Radio’s Ontario Morning program about kids and online access. Following a discussion on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning show on a similar topic, I delved more deeply into the questions that all parents face about when they should allow their kids online access.

cbc_radio_logo

 

Some topics discussed:

  • Should kids under 13 have an email account and online access?
  • How young is too young to be online?
  • How has parenting a child in the digital age changed from raising a child before the Internet was the norm?

As digital technology becomes the norm both at home and at school, kids are increasingly expected to have some type of access, whether it be via email or otherwise. This reality raises a number of issues and concerns for parents who worry about the safety of their kids as they venture online.

Is it okay to let a child under the age of 13 have an email account or online access? What are some of the considerations that parents should make before allowing their children online? These are just some of the questions that need to be addressed by all of us who are raising our kids in the digital age.

To listen to the full interview, click here:

What are your thoughts? Do your children have email accounts? Why or why not? How much online access do you allow your kids? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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At what age is it okay for kids to have an email and social media accounts?

girl on laptop

Does your child have an email address? How about a Facebook account? How do you feel about your child being online at all?

Those were some of the questions posed in an interview that I did with CBC Metro Morning.

CBC Radio Metro Morning

As a parent raising kids in a digital age, as well as someone who is both a lover and avid user of social media, digital technology and online communications, the questions gave me pause.

For many, the thought of allowing their children online presents a conundrum, a Pandora’s Box of sorts. While there are many benefits to having access to the online world (can we say “Google?”), there are some real risks as well. This is particularly the case for those who are younger and more impressionable.

Parents worry about a lot of things when they consider their children’s potential online activities not the least of which include:

  • Cyberbullying
  • Exposure to inappropriate images, videos, information (pornography, violence, etc.)
  • Online stalking
  • Phishing and related scams

Yet, there’s no denying that digital communications is the standard these days. Try to get around finding information without some type of online element; I suspect it would be quite the task.

I allow my ten-year-old daughter to have an email account for a number of reasons, the least of which is that  she can communicate with her close family members (grandparents, aunts, uncles) and teachers - yes, teachers. It is quite the standard these days that teachers email information to both parents and students about school assignments, homework and activities. Implicit in these actions is the expectation that the child will have an email account and that the parents are in approval, and my daughter is no exception. For the most part, her peers have email accounts as well, with the full support of their parents.

That being said, there are some best practices that parents should follow when allowing their children online, whether it’s just for email purposes, or more. I talk about these, including social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), in the interview.

Here’s the full interview, below (first link is to Metro Morning’s website, second is to the segment via CBC Player).

What are your thoughts? At what age is it okay for kids to be online? Is email for a child under 13 okay? Why or why not? How about Facebook? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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CBC RADIO INTERVIEW: Back to School Stress

September 10, 2013

The lazy,  hazy days of summer have passed and the kids have returned to school. It may be “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” for parents but for kids, this is not necessarily the case. More often than not, back to school signals the beginning of a very stressful time. Regardless of age or […]

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August 18, 2013

Too many activities and not enough “down time” is making kids more anxious Our kids are overscheduled, no doubt about it. In this fast-paced age in which we live, our kids are, sadly, the collateral damage. Between various lessons, after-school activities, homework and other responsibilities, is it any wonder that our children are feeling a […]

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CBC RADIO INTERVIEW: Best and Worst Mother’s Day Gifts

May 11, 2013

I was the in-studio guest for CBC Radio’s Ontario Today program just in advance of Mother’s Day. The topic at hand was Mother’s Day Gifts, specifically the best and worst ever received. Listen to the entire segment below for some interesting stories of Mothers’ Days past. Some of the gifts given as told by the […]

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CBC RADIO INTERVIEW: Kids and the Cult of Celebrity

May 1, 2013

There’s no way around it, celebrity culture is everywhere. It’s no surprise, then, that our kids are affected by the latest actions of some of their favourite stars. This would be fine if the object of our kids’ affection was one that we thought was a positive role model. The reality is, though, that many […]

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CBC RADIO INTERVIEW: Getting the Kids Active Over the March Break

March 10, 2013

  During the March Break, it’s really difficult to tear the kids away from the screen. As we continue to try to navigate the topic of Parenting in the Digital Age, we wonder how we can balance screen time and time spent outside, being physically active. Many studies have emphasized the problem of childhood obesity […]

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