Buy now and pay forever

February 26, 2011 at 7:32 pm 4 comments


The man at the cash counter extending his hand asked “Can I have your plastic please?” I had just made a few essential household purchases from the neighbourhood grocery shop and was waiting to make the payment. The plastic carry bag, which had the stuff picked up from the store, is already in front of him and I was, for a moment, lost to figure out the other plastic he was alluding to.  “I mean your credit card, sir” his voice was demanding. “No. I am making the payment by cash” I indicated the mode of payment and counted out a few currency notes from my wallet and gave it to him. He gave me a glance that are most appropriately reserved for curious and near extinct animals in the zoo and bang opened the cash box to search for the various denominations of currency notes and few coins that he has to return to me as balance.  As I hastily collected the strewn notes from the table and the small metal coins that dropped on to the floor raising tinkles, I wished I had used the credit card instead! I could have done the job without a whisper, even if I had dropped the plastic on to the floor!

 The credit card is truly plastic not only by the material that it is made of, but by the way you can mould, mend and modify your payment options as you continuously indulge in unabashed purchases. You don’t have to have money to buy anything nor is it essential that you will have it later… as long as you have the plastic; you can live your life by the moment and on your own terms. Fitting effortlessly in our pockets, it frees those who have the money, from carrying cumbersome bundles of currencies and from the associate risk of losing them and bestows an aura of élan on the card holder. And for those who have got not even a nickel in their pocket, the card would never let them be wanting or inadequate. While it could be charismatic to flash the stylish card in swanky places, at times of emergency, the little thin plastic could be your saviour, bailing you out of awkward situations and conferring you peace, albeit temporarily, from financial worries.  The card, for the various avatars it enacts, has come to occupy a place of predominance, both in our wallets and in our lives.

 The digital world understands only the language of the plastic and with online business burgeoning, the usefulness of the card has only grown and grown exponentially. With it, you can instantaneously buy your travel tickets online, pay your utility bills, transfer monies to anybody across the globe, order that delicious pizza and download your favourite book in the e-format. The plastic is thus your gateway to the world of online mercantile and if you don’t possess one, you are effectively and comprehensively out of the expanding world of e-commerce that promises to be the single largest medium of business transactions in the immediate future. And it is in this virtual space that the card has made its transition from a luxury that one can conveniently do away with to an absolute necessity that one cannot do without.

 But the very convenience of the card could easily turn out to be a dreadful nightmare when its use is not judiciously tempered and instead seen as a tool to satiate one’s impulsive instincts. And this is the trap that the credit card entices one to walk into without actually realising it  and as many would have found out, one never really comes out of this debt trap without pulling up all the resources and the mental resolute to be out of it.  Devoid of caution, one is bound to be in perpetual debt, paying off the partial bill, month after month, without ever really clearing it off in full.  This is the price one pays when desires are let loose to maul without restraint and when happiness is sought to be achieved through materialistic possessions.

 I am going to pay my mobile bill using my plastic. This time around it is my debit card.

 Yours

Narayanan

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Entry filed under: To reflect.

Ignorance is no bliss The Samurai people

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. umeshjairam  |  February 27, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I totally agree with you. But there are good reasons to hold a card. Security risk of carrying good amount of money on travel, immediate payment when promos & offers are given by companies (by assuming your salary income for the next month), paying your utility bill while sitting at home thereby cutting the travel/fuel cost, booking of tickets for cinemas/trains when the counters will are closed after the scheduled time and avoiding travel to the counters unnecessarily.

    Nara, there are many more good features of the card, which we should not forget. I am not trying to underestimate what you had written. Your version is good in the sense that we should not fall in the debt trap (I totally agree with you for pointing out this in your blog).

    But there are many positive reasons to hold a plastic card. For eg: Yesterday we bought a 32″ LCD costing Rs.27000/- (after a heavy discount of Rs.6000/-). The MRP was Rs.33000/-, however there was an offer going on. We had thought of buying 32 LCD thinking that it will be around Rs.25000/- and taken Rs.25000/- with us. However what has happened is just the reverse. Since the offer was expiring shortly, we could not wait for the month end to pay the balance of Rs.2000/- (eventhough meagre amount). Instead I paid with my card and Rs.25000 will be with us till 4 April 2011 (52-day free period for payment).

    Sometimes the bank used to bring out with offers, that is why I am able to meet you in DELHI (HA HA HA).

    Reply
  • 2. balakrishnan  |  February 28, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    In this material world, nickel and plastic make good contrast. While the first one represents the iron age, the second is the epitome of the dynamics of post modern era. The metal is rigid in its form and content and as such does not offer you flexibility but gives you mental peace. The plastic, despite and on account of, its amorphous and amorous nature offers you infinite possibilities and bestows you with instant riches.

    Plastic money in its present avatar is like a booby-trap in the war field. Unless you tread carefully, you might be stepping on a mine. The extra caution one needs to exercise is the price one has to pay for the liberty it offers. One has to judiciously choose between the metal and plastic…

    Reply
  • 3. Mike Martinez  |  March 13, 2011 at 2:08 am

    You are absolutely right! Credit can be a dreadful consumer trap that never lets you out of its vice-like grip. You must exercise caution and tread very cautiously if you do decide to use it. True freedom is living by cash whenever possible.

    Reply
  • 4. Writerzblock  |  May 8, 2011 at 5:31 am

    Absolutely! I used to splurge on my credit card, and once the bill was astonishingly high. That was the time i decided I would use cash. So once in a while, I withdraw cash and try to use that for daily expenses so I have some control!!!

    Reply

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