insanity

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

——

Looking for parenting advice and tips? Click on the image below to get your copy of my eBook today!

Like this post? Subscribe to the MMM newsletter get the latest parenting tips, advice and insight delivered right to your Inbox!

Image courtesy of www.http://blogs.fit.edu/

{ 2 comments }

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.

—-

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.   

——

——

Want more parenting advice and tips? Click on the image below to get your copy of my eBook today!

Like this post? Subscribe to the MMM newsletter get the latest parenting tips, advice and insight delivered right to your Inbox!

Image courtesy of www.TampaBay.com 

 

{ 1 comment }

Simple tips to make the morning routine stress-free


morning rush

The Morning Rush: It’s that very stressful period where we have to wake up the kids, get breakfast ready, get them dressed, fed and out the door and deposited to school or daycare - on time. For many of us, it’s a daily struggle. I’ve written about it before and put a humorous spin on in in the image below - you can check out the full post here as well.

Though the morning rush is brief, it’s often intense as time is of the essence and kids are often not the best at following rules, especially when you need really need them to do so. In many cases, stress levels are high - for both children and parents - and tolerance levels are low, often leading to combustable scenarios that include shouting, crying and more. This is far from an ideal way to start the day.

Beginning the day on a negative note is never a good thing as it affects not only one’s mood, but one’s productivity throughout the day as well. This goes for both parents and kids - children are often affected by the events at home and it’s reflected in their behaviour at school. For these and many other reasons, it’s important to alleviate the issues that result in those crazy, stress-filled mornings that leave everyone unhappy.

Following are 10 tips for dealing with the morning rush:

1) Wake Up First - As the parent, you lead the charge. As any leader knows, getting ahead of the game and taking a few solitary moments to breathe, savour the quiet and get your mental battle gear in order is the key to success. Set your alarm to wake up half an hour before the family rises to both mentally prepare yourself and to enjoy the peace and quiet.

2) Prepare the Night Before - Planning is key. To avoid stressful scenarios in the mornings, get organized and plan ahead. Lay out your kids’ clothes, make their lunches, sign all school forms, check homework, pack backpacks, etc. Get your kids into the habit of providing you with their school-related documents when they receive them, not the morning that they’re due.

3) Get Enough Sleep - The importance of a good night’s sleep is grossly underrated. This goes for not only kids but parents as well. Tempers flare and nerves are frayed when people are not well-rested. This goes for not just you but the kids. They’ll be less grumpy and easier to wake up in the mornings if they’ve been able to get enough sleep the night before.

4) Tune Out the Tech - As tempting as it may be to check your email, Facebook or even the morning news online, don’t do it. By its very nature, the Internet is distracting and we all know how quickly we can get pulled in to its vortex. Make a plan to focus on getting the kids dressed, fed and out the door and leave the digital dabbling to later on, when the kids are at school.

5) Get Kids to Help - Why take on all of the responsibility? Kids can learn do do simple tasks at early ages so let them get busy! Have them pack their knapsacks help pick out their clothes (depending on their ages) and help with making their lunches. With even a little bit of responsibility kids will thrive and there will be less for you to do as well.

6) Start Early - If your kids need half an hour to get themselves out of bed, plan to get them up half an hour earlier. The point is to minimize the stress, of which sleep - too much of it - is often a key part. If you’re dealing with a sleepy teenager or tween, or a child who needs a full night’s rest, get them to bed early. They’ll be much easier to wake in the morning and stress levels will be considerably lower for everyone involved.

7) Plan the Breakfast Menu - Breakfast is often a scramble - pun intended. When dealing with kids, there’s the issue of picky eating, whining, complaining and often crying. It doesn’t have to be this way. Get the children involved the day or night before and determine at that point what they’ll be eating for breakfast. Talk it through, get their agreement about what’s going to be on their plate in the morning and rest easy knowing that the breakfast theatrics won’t occur.

8) Put a Time Limit on Tasks - As part of the overall morning plan, give your kids a certain amount of time to eat, get dressed, etc. Left to their own devices, we all know how much longer kids can take getting things done as they often have no sense of urgency. If necessary, use a time or stop-watch - they’ve been known to work with even the slowest of kids.

9) Schedule Bathroom Time - Fighting for the bathroom is yet another morning stressor that doesn’t need to happen. For those of us who don’t have enough bathrooms to support the morning demand, make a schedule. It may sound crazy but planning who is going to go in first, who’s showering at what time, etc. will take the heat of those waiting outside the door. For younger kids, bathe them in the evenings before bed.

10) Check the Weather - Unless you’re blessed with living in a climate where it’s always warm, you will likely have to deal with getting your kids dressed for the season. Whether it’s fall, winter, spring or summer, your child’s outdoor attire can add precious minutes to your morning routine. Check the weather forecast for the coming morning and, where necessary, set out your kids’ rain boots, snow pants, hats, mittens or whatever is required. Doing so will reduce the amount of time and stress looking for the right attire at the last minute.

The Morning Rush from a parent's point-of-view The morning rush is crazy! Getting kids ready for school is often stressful AND funny.

What tips do you have for making the morning routine less stressful? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

—-

Want more parenting advice and tips? Click on the image below to get your copy of my eBook today!





Image courtesy of http://huffingtonpost.com/

{ 1 comment }

My Imaginary Friend

by Samantha on January 15, 2014

When I was a little girl, I had an imaginary friend. It’s name was “Haldico.”

I say “it” because Haldico was neither a “he” or a “she.” And I was fine with that.

A strange name for an imaginary friend, I realize this now, but it all seemed so normal at the time. As a matter of fact, I can’t really remember how or where the name came from; all I knew from that time is that it was right, it fit and it stuck.

In my five-year-old brain, Haldico took the heat for all of the things that I couldn’t admit to. Haldico broke the vase. Haldico scribbled on the wall. Haldico stole some chocolate. Yes, Haldico did everything I didn’t do, and he/she did it with gusto. I just stood by in the sidelines, watching it wreak havoc on my household, all the while feigning innocence and being incredulous at the unmitigated gaul of my illusion.

My very exasperated mom would ask me a question, knowing full well that the answer may likely include a reference to my “special” friend. I, of course, knew nothing about the ills that had occurred at my home. All I knew was that Haldico was in the house and that things that were apparently beyond my control were occurring.

The need and ability for children to relinquish their responsibilities, errors and bad choices to a non-living figment of their imaginations is as common as the Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus. Like the latter three fantasy figures, imaginary friends provide not only gifts (chocolate eggs, money and various presents, respectively), but a focal point for all of their fears, their regrets, their anger and their pain. The imaginary friend takes on the lion’s share of the challenging and more difficult parts of childhood, and deals with them with the ease of..well…an imaginary friend. They are all-knowing, fearless and just a little bit bad, and our kids love that about them. Imaginary friends are universal superheroes (regardless of gender, or lack thereof) who thumb their noses at silly little things like “rules.” Imaginary friends are the James Bonds of the preschool set. And then some.

James Stewart With Harvey

Having an alter ego, a “fall guy” if you will, who is the foil for all of one’s transgressions is very appealing, especially if you’re well below the age of majority. When control of one’s whereabouts, environment and life in general is dictated by parental figures who often seem to be big time party-poopers, it should be no surprise that these imaginary friends exist. Relinquishing responsibility to an invisible but culpable allay would be appealing to anyone who has ever had the desire to live out their darker fantasies but has decided against their primal urges because, hey, “what will people think?!” Offloading one’s innate compulsions to a “figment of the imagination” is not only easy, but cathartic as well. Guilt, shame, fear…beogone!

Perhaps we as adults are somewhat envious of the fact that our kids - by virtue of their ages - are able to invoke the likes of a non-existent pal. After all - how many times would we like to step back from reality and blame someone else for our transgressions?

Who got this parking ticket?

My imaginary friend.

Who bombed their big presentation at work this afternoon, in front of a boardroom of executives?

My imaginary friend.

Who yelled at their kids for the third time this morning and questioned their general abilities as a parent afterwards?

My imaginary friend.

You see, the imaginary friend is so much more than a figment of our children’s and, by extension our imaginations. Imaginary friends are us in our rawest form, as spiritually ugly as they may be. What these fantasies do and say are what we really want to do and say. And though the prevalence of fantasy-figure amigos may be more common in the younger set, they do exist in the adult population, if only in our minds. We daydream about stealing money from the till or pilfering supplies from the office. Of course we would never dream of doing such unethical, immoral and illegal acts…but our “imaginary friends” would. It’s so much easier to put the blame on someone else and unburden our consciences in the process.

And this truth has been figured out by our kids. No longer must they bear the brunt of parental discipline when they can easily pass on the responsibility for whatever ills have occurred to an unwitting and non-existent pal. The imaginary friend may have done the deed, but there’s no one really there to punish. From a kid’s perspective, what’s not to like?

As adults, we envy the freedom that kids experience, from their lack of responsibilities to their ability to live in the moment without a care in the world. No concern or fear of what tomorrow will bring and all of their todays are filled with fun and games.

Henry David Thoreau said it succinctly when he uttered “Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.

Something to remember next time our kid invokes the name of their imaginary friend as the culprit.

VIDEO: James Stewart Discusses “Harvey”

Image courtesy of Universal International Pictures/Universal

{ 0 comments }

VIDEO: Have School Rules Gone Too Far?

by Samantha on November 2, 2013

NoCandy

School’s not so simple anymore.

These days, almost everything is under scrutiny, including some of our most beloved holidays and traditions.

First up? Halloween. I wrote about an Ontario, Canada school that was banning Halloween celebrations in the apparent spirit of “inclusiveness” and not wanting to have certain children apparently feeling left out. You can read the full article here:

A Politically Correct Nightmare: The School That Cancelled Halloween

Following the article’s publication, I was asked to appear on a news program called Square Off to discuss the trend towards banning not only candy and Halloween in some schools, but pictures, video at school concerts and treats in kid’s lunches as well. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll probably guess where I stand on these issues. If not, it’s pretty clear in the video clip below.

VIDEO: Have School Rules Gone Too Far?

 

Do you think schools have gone too far with their rules and restrictions? Why or why not? Leave me your thoughts in the comments below.

Image courtesy of http://startwiththeinside.blogspot.ca/


{ 0 comments }

Everybody Wins, Nobody Wins

October 21, 2013

I’m against kids “winning” at all costs. This refers to the growing trend of letting all kids win and telling them that “everyone’s a winner.” Everyone is not a winner. That’s why we have the designations of “winners” and “losers.” Someone has to lose. It’s not pretty but that’s life. And “that’s life,” or “c’est […]

Read the full article →

The Morning Rush - A Parent’s View

December 20, 2012

What does “the morning rush” look like in your home? If it’s a piece of cake, you’re lucky (and also in the minority). The reality is that if you’re a parent, getting the kids ready and out the door is quite the effort. Actually, it’s often enough to make even the most patient parent go […]

Read the full article →

VIDEO: Top Tips For Stress-Free Christmas Shopping

December 12, 2012

We all know how crazy it gets during the holiday season. The stress of trying to get everything in order - from the house to the gifts and beyond - is all too much for many of us. The malls are packed, the kids are hoping for a good haul and Santa’s on his way. […]

Read the full article →

Socks and Lids

November 11, 2012

Embrace the fact that socks and lids keep disappearing… Socks and lids - they’ve both gone the way of the Dodo in my household. Socks disappear into the apparent abyss that is also known as a dryer. Lids for Tupperware-type plastic storage containers like the one below, disappear into the secondary abyss that is my […]

Read the full article →

How to Parent in 5 Easy Steps

October 10, 2012

It may seem like a challenge but it can be done. Parenting - perhaps one of the scariest words in the English language - doesn’t have to be an exercise in anxiety. You can raise your kids and raise them well, in spite of the challenges that may be set in front of you. Like […]

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Read the full article →