Theses methods include, but are not limited to, rewards,
punishments, bribery and sending them to boarding school. Usually, I
start out offering a reward for good behavior.
"If you guys can
get your rooms clean in one hour, you can have cookies and milk."
What follows is a lengthy negotiation about what kind of cookies,
whether they can eat them outside on a blanket and whether the cup
should be glass or plastic.
Shouldn't they simply be happy that I offered a reward? I mean,
parents don't get a reward for doing something we know we're
supposed to do.
Imagine paying your electric bill and receiving a cookie in the
mail. Wouldn't that be awesome? It would sure make paying bills
If companies promised a cookie every time I sent them a check,
I'd be merrily ripping checks out of my checkbook all day long. I'd
be a paying fool!
...And I'd be broke. But I'd have cookies!
What if a credit card company had a mini celebration for you
after you finally paid your account in full? They could send a dozen
roses and tickets for two to a local cinema. And really, that's the
least they could do. I don't think a limousine with a stocked bar
would be asking too much either. Lord knows, we're going to feel
like celebrating when that bill gets paid off, and that's hard to do
without putting more charges on the credit card.
Some banks give away toasters when you sign up for a loan, but
nobody rewards you for paying back the loan.
[to top of second column]
Instead of rewarding you with cookies, they threaten you with higher
interest rates when you are late on a payment. Usually -- and I may
be way off here -- a person who paid late did so because they didn't
have enough money that week. Does it make sense to sock them with a
bigger bill if they couldn't pay the smaller one? How is that
helping the company or the consumer get that loan paid off? That's
like sending Guido to "break some legs" if you don't pay up.
Companies should take a cue from how we raise our children to be
responsible, law-abiding citizens: Start off with a cookie first. If
they don't respond, then and only then do you send them to the
timeout chair until they've seen the error of their ways.
In credit card lingo, this means to put a hold on the card until
the customer sends a check.
I've decided to make bill-paying less miserable by making a habit
of having milk and cookies after I'm done. The promise of cookies
has taken the stress out of bill-paying and made me a more
responsible person. I don't put it off until later anymore. In fact,
I pay bills as often as I can -- every day, if possible.
Unfortunately, I have more cookies than I have bills. So I have
taken to asking friends, family and total strangers if they have any
bills I can pay.
I've gotten so used to the whole "check equals cookies" mindset
that I was even enthusiastic about going grocery shopping. I was a
little puzzled, though, when the cashier handed me my receipt and
said, "Have a nice day."
I stood there, mouth open, eyes wide, totally dejected and
whined, "But... where's my cookie?"
[By LAURA SNYDER]
Laura Snyder is a syndicated columnist,
author and speaker. You can reach her at
or visit www.lauraonlife.com
for more information.