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September 15th, 2009:

The “Joe Wilson approach” to dealing with unscrupulous merchants

The Honorable Joe Wilson of South CarolinaSo, Congressman Joe Wilson (R-Confederacy SC) shouted “YOU LIE” in the middle of the President’s Healthcare speech last week, and his outburst has been pretty much the only political news story since then. Wilson, his Democratic challenger and the DCCC have all raised a boatload of money off the event, making “YOU LIE” the shortest, and most successful fundraising hook in years. And as of today, the House has passed a resolution condemning Wilson’s outburst, which will presumably provide fodder for one final fundraising pitch from the DCCC.

But despite the fact that Wilson seems like a total slime ball, I tend to think we need more raucous yelling in congress, not less. This is one area—dare I say it—where the British have it right. Tune in for an episode (it is so entertaining that episode seems like the word to use) of Prime Minister’s Questions on C-SPAN and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Members of Parliament jeer, holler and do everything short of telling “yo mama” jokes while the Prime Minster tries to field hostile questions. The whole undertaking makes Joe Willson’s “YOU LIE” look tame, but it nevertheless results in a much better—and more entertaining—public debate.

I can’t help but think if we had a little less decorum and a little more shouting we might have avoided few fiascos, like the war in Iraq. But I digress…

What I really wanted to do was follow-up on last week’s post about dealing with unscrupulous merchants.

It seems to me that I might have omitted one tactic from my list of what to do to when a merchant tries to impose a minimum purchase amount for credit card users. I call it the Joe Wilson strategy.

Scream “YOU LIE!”: Politicians may love scenes—they raise money after all—but shopkeepers hate them. In a crowded shop or restaurant, screaming “YOU LIE” when confronted with a minimum purchase amount will not only get the merchant’s attention, but it will also draw the gaze of everyone else in ear-shot. Now is your chance to quickly outline your case. The merchant will either quickly back down or throw you out on the street. Either way, everyone will remember what you said.

Previous topics mentioned in this post:

Fighting back against credit card minimums

#6. Chargebacks and Credit Cards

€5. Different sized banknotes

An open letter to VISA

What is more America, Big Gulps or Credit Cards?

ACTION ALERT: Senators aim to introduce European-style Credit Card fees

Should New York try running negative ads?

London UndergroundThe AP reports that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and London Mayor Boris Johnson have agreed to swap ad space on each city’s public transportation system in order to boost mutual tourism. London will be able to place a few dozen ads in MTA buses while New York will get poster locations in the Underground.

Of course, what matters here is not mutual cross-border cooperation, but who wins. Specifically, which city pulls in more tourists.

With that in mind, I have a suggestion for New York’s tourism officials: Go negative and tout air-conditioning.

The London Underground has no A/C and temperatures there routinely approach boiling. It is the perfect environment in which to tout some good old fashioned American comforts–like chilled air. Might I suggest also mentioning that the NY Subway has been air-conditioned for over four decades.

Previous topics mentioned in this post:

Being an American means you don’t have to sweat (as much)

€4. Inadequate air conditioning

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