Saturday, April 07, 2001

German Shoppers Get Coupons

In an article by D. Wessel in the 4/5 WSJ entitled CAPITAL: German Shoppers Get Coupons, I learned of the Free Gift Act and Discount Law both on the books from the Nazi era just now being repealed which wreaked havoc with retail efforts.

Did you know that half-price happy hours are (were) illegal because half-price is an illegally large discount? The Discount law enforced a maximum discount of 3% from list. Imagine trying to figure out a 3% discount two drinks into a happy hour. ;-)

Did you know that you can’t (couldn’t) advertise a percentage of all charges on a charge card going to fund AIDS research? German law said you are allowed to advertise your product, “but may not exploit the emotions of customers.” Hello?

American Express’ popular Members Reward program that lets you earn points on purchases just like a frequent flyer program is legal but can’t be advertised because it “creates the impression that they are offering something attractive yet the customer does not know what exactly – if anything – they will receive.”

Now you might say, but Greg they are repealing those laws so give them a break. However, the article explicitly states that the only reason is (not common sense) rather the Internet and Globalization and the way they are forcing economic change!

BTW, other laws limit clearance sales to twice a year plus the day of a business’ birth in years divisible by 25. Aaach!

How do we count for these issues in our country risk assessments? ;-)

At least the closing paragraph of the article made sense. Simply stated, “only by continuing to unshackle its muscular, yet rule bound economy can the world’s third largest economy realize its potential for its 80 million consumers.”

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