When Does Paying Feel Right?

I spotted this ad on a shopping cart at our local Save-on-Foods, and it struck me as rather baffling.

Paying with Interac Debit Just Feels Right

If we’re talking about ‘feel’, then paying with cash ‘feels’ more right to me. Maybe I’m just getting old, but the exchange of currency for goods and services seems far more natural than using a debit card.

Paying with cash is usually several times faster, less complicated, doesn’t produce any excess receipts or any additional banking fees. As far as I can figure, the only advantages of a debit card are the convenience and possible safety of not having to carry cash. The ad ought to emphasize those benefits, instead of a vague promise and a yellow armored car (short bus, anyone?).

You can almost hear the ad agency throwing up their hands and saying “frack it, I’m out of ideas, let’s just go with ‘it feels right’.”

Out of curiousity, do Save-on-Foods and other retailers prefer that I pay with cash or debit card? I assume the latter, because of the overhead around managing hard currency, but I don’t really know. Are any readers retail-enabled enough to know?


  1. Fees on credit card processing, for the retailer, are much higher than debit transactions. Generally speaking, it’s cheaper for retailers when you use debit cards over credit cards (not to mention that debit cards offer no consumer protection, whereas credit cards offer a modicum of protection).

    Of course, cash beats all, especially for smaller retailers: no fees at all.

  2. No fees, but more physical work in collating and depositing the cash. My guess is that the most convenient for everyone would be an Asian-style credit/debit system that works through cell phones:


    While there are a few places you can do that in Vancouver (the city’s parking meters come to mind, but even that goes through a credit card), it’s less widespread that I would have expected by now.

    I think the advertising message isn’t wrong, though. For many people, me included, debit is the default mode of payment for most things, and it does “feel right” to use it. It certainly “feels wrong” when I encounter the odd retailer that doesn’t accept it.

  3. I think this ad is to reinforce existing behaviour, not to generate new awareness or intent (the 2 usual reasons for advertising).

    Especially with credit cards now requiring PINs and the customer interaction become the same, debit has to compete as a payment method with credit cards that give you up to a month to pay for the transaction.

    So I’d guess this ad is all about telling people to keep doing what they already do because ‘it feels right.’

    But I think it’s a very weak use of ad dollars. No benefit. No differentiation. And I think it actually may be counterproductive because it makes people wonder about what does feel right. Debit feels right? Really?

  4. I saw the TV ads that are a part of that campaign. They specifically mention about how Interac is the secure way to pay with your own money and paying with your own money “just feels right”. I guess they have to shorten that for a shopping cart campaign.

  5. I think this campaign is trying to combat the increase in people paying for virtually everything by credit card, including smaller (i.e. grocery purchases).

    I never carry cash, and I gave up on paying by debit a couple years back when I realized how much “free stuff” I was forgoing from my credit card points. This year I’ve paid for a new push mower and a flight to Kelowna on credit card points. This summer, I’m going to buy a flat screen TV.

    Cash is anonymous, yes, but it’s a pain. You don’t get any benefit from paying by debit. Not to sound like a promo for credit cards, but this campaign does nothing to persuade me switch from credit card to debit.

  6. This aritle you post kind of relates but to the other article I’m reading, on consumer choices (for your interest): http://www.stockthewarehouse.org/flashpoint-world-affairs/globalmatics/421-to-boycott-or-not-to-boycott-ethical-consumerism-and-the-movement-to-buy-fair.html Personally, I don’t think that interac car makes ‘paying’ feels right, but it makes it way more convenient, as you don’t have to carry changes around. Although I think they should mention about the service charge in the ad.

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