I’m used to companies targeting their advertising to my children but this week a large company has taken advantage of Miss Frugal and made her feel uncomfortable in one of their branches and that is unacceptable.
I’m not going to name the company as that’s not really my thing but I am going to share her experience because as a parent teaching a child about money management, this is something that I hadn’t expected or considered so we’d never discussed how to deal with situations like this.
I pay Miss Frugal’s pocket money into her debit card account each week and she has a debit card so she can access the money – either by spending it online or in a shop or by getting cash out of a cash machine. I get a notification every time she uses the card so I can see what she’s spending and where and she gets much more financial freedom than she had before which is teaching her some great lessons for later in life.
Last week, we were out shopping and she asked if she could nip to a shop nearby to buy something she wanted while I was trying a top on. I’ve got no problem with this as she’s quite independent and more than capable of walking two shops down to buy something specific that she wanted. (See how I’m being nice and vague here?)
She came back a couple of minutes later and was a bit quiet, clearly something was bothering her so I asked what it was. She explained that the person in the shop she’d just been in had taken her order and then suggested that she buy a loyalty card for £5. She says that she said no thank you but the person gave her a bit of a hard sell and she ended up buying this loyalty card for £5 which was double the cost of her purchase.
I was horrified and wanted to go back to the shop there and then to complain but she asked me not to so I respected her wishes and silently fumed about the situation until I got home where I stewed about it for a while longer and then tweeted the company. Twice.
No response came but I did discover that their own terms and conditions say the card is only for over 18s and she clearly does not look that age!!! I ended up emailing the CEO who ‘passed my email to a member of his team’ but they clearly didn’t get the issue and dedicated about two sentences to my complaint and about five paragraphs to how I could get a refund back for the money taken on the card. She also said that the Twitter team get so many tweets each day that they can’t reply to all. I’ve deleted my tweets now but they were very clear about how unhappy it was and how serious I thought it was so I’m not sure why they would ignore that and reply to jokey tweets and other complaints. She went on to ask for ID for Miss Frugal in order to get her money back – she’s 12!!!
I replied back to advise how unhappy I was and got a much more reassuring response and I now feel that the issue is going to be addressed both in the store itself and in other stores nationwide. All well and good but that doesn’t help Miss Frugal as she’s lost some of her confidence going in to shops on her own which is the reason I’m sharing this.
Big companies like the one we’ve had the issue with should know not to prey on children like this to make a sale and to be fair, most probably do but you can’t account for the individual employees and their need to hit a target.
To make sure your child is prepared for when (and if) this ever happens to them, please have a chat with them about how to deal with people who try to sell them something and make sure they know they can (and usually should) say no.
Here’s a couple of things that Miss Frugal and I have talked about this week:
- Things are rarely as good as they seem – the person made this sound amazing but when we’ve looked at it together, the chances of her ever buying enough to earn a reward are slim to none.
- I’ve explained that she may be offered things like this in future and she may or may not want them. If she doesn’t want it then she can always say no and like on this occasion, if no doesn’t seem to be good enough then she can just walk away.
- Even if she does like the sound of something, the chances are it will still be there later on so she can just explain that she wants to have a think about it.
- If all else fails, she can just say that she doesn’t have any money spare for it and if she’s paying with a note that will give her change she can just say that’s her bus fare or something.
- She is the customer and does not need to feel bad if she doesn’t want something.
It’s a shame we’ve had to learn this lesson but hopefully, you’ll be more prepared than we were!
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