small business saturday

i know, this event happened yesterday.  but here are my thoughts-- a day late.

do you see the sign above?  do you see down in the right hand corner where it says 'american express'?  that's right, a huge corporation who's charge and credit cards most small businesses do not accept because 'american express' charges small businesses more for our customers using their card than any other card company out there.

from american express' website 'smallbusinesssaturday.com':

American Express is giving a $25 statement credit(1) to 100,000 Cardmembers who register their Card and use it to shop on Small Business Saturday at any locally-owned, independent small businesses that accept American Express.

if you bought something yesterday using your 'american express' card at a local merchant, you could get a $25 credit on your statement.  once.  and only 100,000 card members could get the credit-- and there was no way to know if you were going to get the credit (until your statement arrives).

i don't know that the general public understood how the promotion worked.  a woman called me yesterday asking me if we had registered with 'american express' for 'small business saturday'.  she even told me which other merchants in town had registered-- and i am sure she had been told that by harried merchants just so that she would come in or get off the phone.  i told her, politely, that she was the one who needed to register, all i had to do for her to get her $25 statement credit is to accept the 'american express' card (which i do).

by registering-- and apparently millions of customers did, customers gave 'american express' a very handy list of 'american express' customers who have now become a 'target market'-- ready for the next advertising campaign.

LOOK-- i hope that this event boosted sales for some small merchants somewhere-- thanksgiving weekend is not typically a big weekend for local merchants-- though my sales were fine ( a normal saturday) i did not have a single customer use their 'american express' card yesterday.  i hope that it raised awareness among the general public about heading downtown during this holiday weekend for shopping outings.  and i am glad that 'american express' was going to donate a bunch of money (if enough of their card members registered and shopped they would donate up to $500,000) to 'girls inc.'-- a wonderful national organization supporting girls and young women.

but-- to me it looks like one huge advertising campaign designed to get more small merchants to   accept 'american express' cards-- and to get card members to use their 'american express' cards during one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year.  an advertising campaign that on the surface looks like it cost 'american express' a few million dollars-- very little for such a huge corporation.

and-- if 'american express' really wanted to help small businesses, they would charge less for us to accept their cards-- every day.

think about it.


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