Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Stopping the Nonsense

Retailers:  can we please just make life easier and stop all these stupid rewards/loyalty programs?  The ones I'm talking about are the stores that won't give you discounts unless you have one of their rewards or loyalty cards.  Everybody does it, from grocery stores to pet stores, from bookstores to hardware stores, from shoe stores to sandwich shops.  Either you get a discount at the register, or you accumulate points and they mail you a rewards check.  On some cards, you accumulate points toward air miles or get a discount on gasoline.   

I hate these things.  They take up room in my purse.  I have 12 of them in a little plastic pouch that I carry in a pocket of my purse, for easy access. (That's a picture of my rewards cards, above)  Most of these cards are free, but you are asked to give your phone number and other personal info when you sign up.  That way, if you're at the register and forgot your rewards card, you can just tell the cashier your phone number, while everyone else in line hears you giving out your unlisted number.

Why not just mark down the retail items for everyone, and do away with the rewards programs? Why must we add yet one more point of inconvenience to our already busy lives?  Well, one reason why is that retailers can track your purchasing habits with these cards.  The cards help them accumulate demographics--where you live, how often you shop, which brand of soda pop you purchase, how much you spend on each trip, and even how old you are.  According to Wikipedia, these rewards programs "are structured marketing efforts that reward, and therefore encourage, loyal buying behavior — behavior which is potentially of benefit to the firm."

I realize demographics help retailers plan their futures, develop targeted marketing programs, and even issue coupons based on your buying habits.  But they're still a nuisance.  They are an invasion of privacy.  They clutter my life.  They annoy the living daylights out of me.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Advanced K9 Behavior

Yesterday, August 14, I graduated from the Advanced K9 Behavior course at the Kitsap Humane Society, where I volunteer as a dog trainer/dog walker and cat cuddler.  This advanced course is geared toward training problem dogs and turning them into model canine citizens. Sort of like charm school for dogs, if you will.  Dogs completing the K9 Charm School will be made available for adoption at a higher adoption fee, since they will be so well trained.  Part of the higher adoption fee will cover the cost of training the new owner, who will be required to take training along with their dog.  It's a win/win for both dog and new owner.

I'm part of a pilot program for this K9 Charm School.  It's exciting to see such wonderful programs going on at the humane society, and to know there are dedicated animal lovers willing to give of their free time to benefit the animals in the shelter.  There were 20 volunteers who graduated from this advanced class, and we will begin training select problem dogs next Saturday.  We're using the buddy system, as most training sessions will include the problem dog and a laid-back, non-combative dog, which will be the "target" dog when retraining dog-aggressive dogs (it's why we need 2 trainers--one to handle the aggressive dog and one to handle the target dog.)

When I signed on as a volunteer, I told myself I was NOT going to get carried away and volunteer for more work than my self-alotted volunteer hours per week, nor get roped into extra stuff.  So much for willpower.  I can see where this new program is going to add greatly to my volunteer hours, as well as my car mileage, so I have to be careful not to take on more than I can handle.  I'm feeling a little pressured to take on more, but will hold firm.  I can't really spend hours and hours on my feet because of significant arthritis in both feet, so that'll be a self-limiting thing.  

I used to show and train dogs about 35 years ago, and training sure has changed a lot since then!  And it's all for the good!