QVC, which stands for Quality, Value and Convenience is headquartered out of little old West Chester, Pennsylvania. We all recognize the name QVC and it is probably the granddaddy of all home shopping channels. There are others, many others. I don’t want to pick on QVC in particular but they do exemplify the point I’d like to discuss, choice and responsibility.
Your ability to watch home shopping channels, QVC and others and to exercise your right and ability to buy items and collectibles, is your choice. But if you are an unconscious shopper, a compulsive shopper or a stress relief shopper, at what point does QVC go from being a commercial to your downfall and are they culpable at all?
QVC makes it easy to impulsively purchase items with easy payment opportunities and they even issue their own QVC credit card. But isn’t that just good business practice to make it as easy as possible for customers to purchase your product?
All big stores are designed to encourage shoppers to purchase items subconsciously. From the layout of the department store, to the smells piped in to stores (chocolate chip cookie smell sells more sweaters) , to the arrangement of items on the shelves. The goal is to make you want the item, at least a bit more than your will and self-control will hold you back.
A 24 hour retailer like QVC wants you to purchase, as much as you possibly can. They are not regulating your ability to consume, they are not holding you back from buying more than you can afford and they won’t be there to save you when other bills fall behind or go unpaid because you have spent more than you can afford on QVC.
But the brilliance of QVC is that even in the stillness of the dark night you can switch on the QVC channel and meet and talk to your on-air friends and be encouraged to buy, buy, buy. Not for as many as QVC would like, but for some, on-air personalities become their friends. Viewers connect with them, they learn to trust them, and the on-air personality is always encouraging the viewer and caller to buy now before it is too late.
QVC is smart and savvy. They have predictive models that allow them to target segments of their customer base. They are looking to move the maximum amount of product units in the shortest period of time possible. QVC has developed an online television clubhouse where your membership comes in six easy payments. And in the support of capitalism, there isn’t anything wrong with that.
When QVC becomes a problem is when you start buying more than you can afford and wind up with a load of credit card debt as a result. The bank that issued you that overlimit credit card does not care that you fell lonely and isolated, without real friends. The bank promised you fun and excitement to encourage you to apply. QVC promised you a relationship and belonging when you became part of their family and started buying. And now that you are in deep debt, they look at you as a loser.
If you have had a chance to visit the homes of people, like I have, who have large collections of stuff they’ve purchased on QVC, it is hard to see through the clutter. The dolls, decorations, tools, and must have items are everywhere. That’s because the need to purchase those items or collect them is not driven by making good financial choices, but by allowing us to get lost, just for a while, in the excitement that comes with the pursuit of the item to start or complete a series or collection. Shopping becomes the game, the entertainment, the hunt and the distraction and the financial result is just a foreseeable and preventable accidental outcome.
If we want to have free choice and not be told what we can and can’t buy, then smart retailers like QVC will lead to the financial downfall of some consumers. It will just happen. But that does not make those people stupid or losers that got pulled in to the message, desire and hype. But while they are certainly not stupid, they are not victims as well.
At some point we need to be able to exercise will and control over our lives. We should have the freedom of choice, to buy or not buy. But along with that freedom comes a responsibility that those that wind up in too much debt need help, not just punishment.
In our current American economic life, consumers consume and they told what idiots they are by debt collectors who look to intimidate them. At what point will fair and reasonable help be available to help people get out of credit card debt without the limits of credit counseling or the finality of bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy today in America remains the one and only way to legally eliminate credit card debt or reduce credit card debt. It has become the single best way for people to wipe out credit card debt and to get out of credit card debt. It should not be that way. There should be some ways for consumers to be encouraged to repay their debt in a reasonable and affordable way that binds creditors to honor those repayment arrangements without driving people into bankruptcy.
QVC isn’t evil, the process of effectively selling to you isn’t evil but the process of not allowing consumers to have a fair way to repay their debt in down times, well that’s just really evil.
Source: Is QVC Evil?