It’s Too Easy to Buy Stuff These Days!

When Kitty PoP can buy $50 worth of chocolate covered almonds and stale popcorn, you know it’s gotten too easy to buy stuff these days.

 

Here’s How It Went

20130421-174403.jpgRecently Mr PoP and I were in a hotel for a business trip and Kitty PoP had to come with us. In this particular hotel, there are two weight-sensitive mini bars in the room. One enclosed in a fridge, the other on top of the dresser. We’re told at check-in that if you pick up any mini-bar item for more than 20 seconds, your account is automatically charged for it.

The thing is, one of Kitty PoP’s favorite activities is to “test gravity”. By that we mean that if we leave anything lightweight out on a countertop, and he wants our attention, he’ll go over to said item and use his paw to slide it off the counter. He does this intentionally – the little bastard. He’ll look you right in the eye from across the room and start sliding a coffee mug to the edge of the table. So at 4:39 am when I wake up to the sound of something falling off the dresser in the hotel room, I fear that Kitty PoP has bought himself some nuts. Or bought us some nuts. As a gift. How nice, right?

Luckily he didn’t get the nuts. It was a hairbrush I had left out. But it could have just as easily been the nuts or the bottle of VOSS water or the mini Snickers bars. Any of which would have been quite pricey. So it makes you wonder. How the heck have we gotten to the point where buying stuff is so easy that Kitty PoP can do it.

 

Where Else Can We Buy Too Easily?

  • Amazon 1-Click. Seriously. One Click. The name says it all. One click will deliver one of these classy $5,000 tvs to your door.  (It’s apparently bigger in real life!)
  • iTunes purchases have gotten slightly harder to complete automatically, now requiring re-entering a password to complete the transaction thanks to this lawsuit between Apple and parents that settled recently. Kids were getting a hold of mommy’s iPhone to play Fruit Ninja or Angry Birds and buying hundreds of dollars in game add-ons without mommy or daddy realizing until the credit card bill arrived.
  • Subscriptions like magazines, newspapers, other media like Netflix or Hulu, or even non-media subscriptions like your local gym often always require you to sign on for auto-pay, which often turns into an automatic renewal if you’re not paying attention.
  • Opening a tab at a restaurant or bar. Ever lost track of how many drinks you and friends put on an open tab when you went out to a bar?

Ostensibly, these are all convenience services that the businesses provide to the consumer. They make our lives easier by making it take as little effort and as little thought as possible for us to get what we want. Mind you, that’s not what we need – but what we want. But is easy access to virtually unlimited wants really in the consumer’s best interests?

 

Who Does Lowering the Barrier to Purchase Really Benefit?

Let’s stop fooling ourselves that these are blessed conveniences. We all led perfectly full lives before we eliminated the need to enter credit card and shipping information online before making purchases.

Lowering the barrier to purchase really only benefits one entity – the service provider. By making it easier for the consumer to do what consumers do – consume! – they increase their revenue per customer. Which, provides nice top-line revenue growth, while also likely boosting margins. A double-win for the company. At the expense of the consumer’s bottom line.

 

Let’s Fight It Whenever Possible

  • Turn off one-click.
  • Ask for the mini-bar to be removed from your hotel room.
  • Buy magazines one at a time.

I’m not saying freeze all your credit cards in blocks of ice that require days to thaw if you want to make a purchase. But just by making it incrementally harder to make a purchase, you will force yourself to stop and consider that purchase and make sure it’s something you will truly value before just buying in sight.

 

What other purchases have gotten too easy these days? What do you do to raise your barrier to purchase?

 

* Links through to Amazon are affiliate, so any purchases made through the links will provide a small kick back to the PoPs. Unless you buy that tv for $5K. The kick back on that might not be quite so small.

61 comments to It’s Too Easy to Buy Stuff These Days!

  • Although I don’t do a lot of it, I think online shopping in general has made it too easy to buy stuff. All you need is internet access and a credit card. Its just too convenient.

    The multiple buy deals- three for $10, buy one get one free, or buy one get get the 2nd one 50% off also make it easy. I find I sometimes end up with more than I need and with regards to food, it can end up getting rotten quicker than I can eat it.
    MakintheBacon recently posted..Five bucks here, five bucks thereMy Profile

    • Good point with BOGOs. I’ve also heard that when companies use advertising that says a specific amount people tend to buy that amount. A sign that reads 5 for $5 means people will usually buy in multiples of 5 even if the price is still $1 per item no matter how many you buy.

  • I’ve been charged for stuff from minifridges with that sensor thing even when I haven’t opened the fridge. Also parking when I haven’t brought a car. I always have to complain at the front desk about it.
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted..Ordering replacement parts from the manufacturerMy Profile

  • Hotel mini bars are the worst! Why can’t we just sell things on a level playing field?
    Half the tine, when I go to check out for something online, I decide I don’t actually need it. Thanks god I don’t use 1Pillow click too often!
    CashRebel recently posted..Earth Day And Corporate SustainabilityMy Profile

  • I totally that Amazon one-click is wayyyyyyyy too easy! I just try to stay off of the website in the first place!
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..An Interview with Businessman Andrew BoydMy Profile

  • I refuse to turn on Amazon’s one click ordering. Too tempting. Just too tempting.

    My cats do the exact same thing. It’s good to know that the entire cat species is out there making sure that gravity works. I wonder what they plan on doing if they ever discover that it doesn’t.
    My Financial Independence Journey recently posted..Proctor and Gamble (PG) Dividend Stock AnalysisMy Profile

  • I actually like one click because then I don’t have to go look for a credit card. I so rarely buy anything, it’s not a bid deal, but I can see how it would be if you surfed the web out of boredom. The mini bar is a different story. Those weight sensor things are just waiting to take advantage. We just look like hillbillies with our canvas grocery bags full of drinks and water when we go to a hotel, but oh well.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Is Fear Inducing You To Spend When You Know You Shouldn’t?My Profile

    • When we were leaving the hotel Mr. PoP wanted to abandon the extra unused litter and cat food (about $5 worth of cat supplies) since we had so much we were trying to fit in the car… but I grabbed it! Hillbilly be damned, it’s not going to waste – I will proudly be that cheap =)

  • I hate whenever I open a tab at a bar and they don’t tell me until after that they have a $25 or $50 tab minimum. I visit the same bars all the time so it’s like they just make up whatever amount they feel like that night. OKAY end rant :)
    Michelle recently posted..Clean Eating and $1,910 in Extra IncomeMy Profile

  • Ivy

    I do like automation in purchasing and payments – as long as you are careful where you are allowing this, should be OK and really makes life easier.
    I don’t think you can switch off 1-Click for Kindle purchases. I’ve looked everywhere (one time when I had a coupon I wanted to apply – which 1-Click doesn’t allow). It’s very annoying indeed
    My toddlers bought once a few Instant Videos. These are usually non-refundable, but Amazon did agree to credit me back once I explained the situation. And you’d better believe I put parental controls and passwords everywhere:-)

    • That stinks that you can’t turn it off on Kindle purchases. I can definitely see the need for parental controls if that’s the case!

  • It has become way too easy to purchase things online. Especially with a handy credit card…sigh behh.

    For example, I bought a GUESS dress on hautelook two weeks ago that I wasn’t planning or needed to buy. Plus, do I really need another dress? The answer is probably no.
    I did buy a book on Amazon but it is a present to father in law, so that one doesn’t count.
    I really need to stop looking at stuff online because it just makes me want it.
    SavvyFinancialLatina recently posted..When investing above the 401K company match pays offMy Profile

    • Browsing online is dangerous for people that like to shop. That’s one reason I like to filter all internet marketing emails to a separate inbox so I don’t get tempted unnecessarily.

  • Urgh! Consumerism. I can’t help but fall for these sometimes also. Online shopping has exploded over the past few years and it’s amazing what we can do with our smartphones already.
    KC @ genxfinance recently posted..What is a Trust Fund?My Profile

    • I know – just wait until the pay pass becomes even more common in our country. You’ll just hold your phone up and the amount will be charged to you. Crazy!

  • Brian

    Everytime I see a Minibar I always think about a bit from Comedian Mitch Hedberg:

    “A minibar is a machine that makes everything expensive. When I take something out of the minibar, I always fathom that I’ll go and replace it before they check it off, but they make that stuff impossible to replace. I go to the store and ask, ‘Do you have coke in a glass harmonica? …Do you have individually wrapped cashews?’”

  • On a similar strain to the one-click, a lot of online retailers give you the option to save your credit card information, which makes it all too easy to shop impulsively. I always opt out of that, but not without some impulsive spending because of it! I agree about keeping a tab, as well – I always just bring cash because once it’s gone, I’m done! Great post!
    anna recently posted..Posts to #FFMy Profile

    • Oooh, and some of them store them without telling you very explicitly! I got super ticked off at one a couple of years ago for storing our credit card information after a normal bill pay for a yearly bill.

  • Just recently got an e-mail thanking me for “re-subscribing” to one of the magazines I subscribe to. I called the company immediately and canceled the subscription, but was totally pissed they’d done so without my permission. I let them know this and they told me know in the “fine, fine” print it states you’ll be billed for an auto-subscription if you don’t e-mail them specifically stating not to do so. I won’t be ordering for them again.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..One Year In Our Home: 10 Tips For Condo BuyersMy Profile

  • The nearest town is 6 miles away, with limited supplies, and the “real” town with supermarkets and a mini mall is 20 miles away. It surely helps control buy impulses. I love that it is easy to buy things online, but it can become evil if you have a tendency to overbuy.
    Pauline recently posted..Little house in Guatemala, stormy editionMy Profile

  • “Amazon 1-Click. Seriously. One Click. The name says it all. One click will deliver one of these classy $5,000 tvs to your door.”

    I used to be a sucker for this. Ten dollars of this, five dollars of that. Next thing I know, I’m paying a hundred dollars on my bill.

    “He does this intentionally – the little bastard. He’ll look you right in the eye from across the room and start sliding a coffee mug to the edge of the table. ”

    Kitty PoP is one awesome cat.
    Ms. D recently posted..One goal down~ Initial retirement fund, completed!My Profile

  • So glad Kitty PoP didn’t cost you beaucoup bucks!

    I try to avoid storing my credit card information with online retailers. If I have to go through the extra effort of entering my card info, I’ll pause to think if the purchase is really necessary and worthwhile.

    Here’s a story you might appreciate: I have a friend whose father has a sleep disorder. He sleep walks and does all sorts of things while sleeping that he doesn’t remember/has no control over. Well, apparently, he will also sleep shop. There have been several occasions when he has ordered something online, while sleepwalking. Expensive stuff like electronics and furniture. Now, he and his wife check their credit card statement on a daily basis so they will know if he has ordered anything. So far, the retailers have been very good about accepting returns!
    JW_Umbrella Treasury recently posted..Resisting the Call of the Sale SirensMy Profile

    • Wow. That is amazing. I’ve heard of sleep eaters and sleep walkers and sleep talkers, but never sleep shoppers! So glad they know to check and prevent those things from going through!

  • LOL I was going to say Amazon makes it easy for me to purchase. Itunes is another guilty pleasure. Oh the evil things are kitties do to get our attention!
    Budget and the Beach recently posted..Lessons learned from getting locked out of the houseMy Profile

    • It’s so true that they can do evil things to get our attention, but lately Kitty PoP has learned the best new way to “remind” me that it’s dinner time. Instead of pouncing on my feet like he used to, he’ll sit on the back of the couch behind my head and purr in my ear. He does this at around 7:25 just about every night now. (Dinner time is 7:30!) Best trick ever!

  • American Express now allows you to sync your card to your twitter account and buy things simply by tweeting certain hashtags as well. I don’t know if that will catch on, but buying things is definitely getting easier and easier!
    The First Million is the Hardest recently posted..How Often Do You Check On Your Investments?My Profile

  • This is pretty true. I listened to a story on NPR about Apple getting into hot water over some “free” app games. However, they’re not really free because you have to pay for all of the fun stuff with coins that represent real coins.
    Apparently a lot of children didn’t know these were real, or didn’t care, and spent hundreds of dollars on these apps. Parents were upset and I guess they got a refund and Apple made it more difficult to purchase.
    Once click $5k television, no thanks.
    Justin recently posted..Retirement Planning Versus You only Live OnceMy Profile

  • LOL your kitty is so cute. That’s too funny. I totally agree that not only is it easier to buy things these days but there are triggers everywhere. I think not spending money is so easy in Grenada because there’s no massive billboards, there’s no one screaming about sales, there’s no newspaper inserts, and I don’t have a TV. It’s truly been amazing how much I don’t need to buy stuff, all because of my surroundings.
    Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) recently posted..$755: My Highest Earning Freelance Week EverMy Profile

    • He is ridiculously cute. We love Kitty PoP.

      I wonder how it’s going to be when you get back to the states. Is it going to feel overwhelming with all of the ads everywhere?

  • I don’t purchase on line unless it’s a product I simply can’t obtain locally. The need to go out and actually shop for something is often enough of a deterrent to prevent me from making unnecessary purchases and, when I do buy something, it’s nice to know that my dollars are staing within the local economy. Even when we do purchase locally, unless it’s something we are in actual immediate need of, my husband and I have a 24 hour rule: We wait at least 24 hours from the time we see it until the time we purchase it. Often, we decide against making the purchase during that period of grace.
    Beth @ Aunt B’s Kitchen recently posted..What We Spent April 8 – 14My Profile

    • I like the 24 hour rule. We have enough trouble pulling the trigger on purchases that it works out to something like that a lot of the time, too!

  • I feel like that’s some crazy technology at the hotel. I hate that sites save your cc info nowadays. I always tell it not to, but it always does. And I try to pay cash when I go to bars. (Which is rare these days.) But tabs are no good for me. For oh, so many reasons.
    femmefrugality recently posted..Sometimes all you have to do is ask.My Profile

  • The Amazon 1-click gets me every time!
    Marissa @ Thirtysixmonths recently posted..VSRE: Very Short Reply ExpectedMy Profile

    • I wonder what it would be like if you turned it off for 3 months and tracked how much it changed what you spent at Amazon… I bet it can really add up for some people!

  • I don’t use Amazon, but One-Click is quite possibly the smartest retailing innovation EVER. So dangerous for buyers though!

    Anything that already has your payment details (cough APPLE cough) is a killer. Until my CC expired (I haven’t updated my details with Apple yet) I kept seeing small iTunes charges every month. Some were for apps bought by T but I’m positive not all of them were and I’m still not sure what they were – can paid apps charge you everytime you update the app maybe?
    eemusings recently posted..Three takeaway foods you can make at homeMy Profile

  • So true! Etsy is my love but also my curse. It’s just too easy to buy all those pretty things!
    Mo’ Money Mo’ Houses recently posted..Premarital Counseling – It’s a Good Thing (Part 2)My Profile

  • You’re so right. Everything seems to be too easy to buy these days. What about the “tap and go” payment for a card – automatically approved; no pin; no signature. Was just credit card but now extended to debit card as well. Not only easy to purchase but how about fraud if you happen to drop/leave your card somewhere.

    Lovely site and posts – thanks for sharing.
    Patricia recently posted..Skin Care: Try These Natural Methods To Improve Your Skin SafelyMy Profile

  • […] wanted to throw at me. I’m sure there are lots of great people in Florida, like Mickey Mouse and the PoPs, but I think I’ve checked it off my most desirable locations to […]

  • […] Planting Our Pennies’s cat is quite the little trouble maker! Find out how that relates to their pocketbook in It’s Too Easy to Buy Stuff These Days! […]

  • […] our Pennies came to the realization that it’s too easy to buy stuff after they realized their cat could easily charge up a ton of money in a hotel. I kid you […]

  • […] I Liked Mrs. Pop from Planting Our Pennies thinks our ease of shopping has gone too far when even their cat can make purchases! Phoebe from All You Need Is Enough has a guide for being frugal and social. G.E. Miller […]

  • […] Planting our Pennies, Mrs. PoP uses a funny cat story to spin off a post on the wacky ease with which we can buy stuff these […]

  • I had to disable the one-click function on Amazon after I accidentally purchased an item instead of adding it to my wish list, like I usually do to track the price. I had to go in and cancel the purchase and since it was from an outside vendor, it was even more of a hassle. I don’t often save my payment information for that reason. The convenience isn’t worth the possibly mistakes to me.
    Lyn @ Pretty Frugal recently posted..Honesty is the Best PolicyMy Profile

    • Ugh. That does sound like a pain. The worst ones are those that save your cc info without explicitly telling you they are doing so. Grr

  • […] insight that we gained on our trip – that It’s Too Easy To Buy Stuff – got some love as well, from Money Life and More in Personal Finance Roundup, from Budget […]

  • […] It’s Too Easy to Buy Stuff These Days! by Planting Our Pennies […]