The 12 Scams of Christmas

The Better Business Bureau has a list of the 12 Scams of Christmas. Not to be a Grinch, I believe this is quite appropriate for this time of year.  Especially since, in November my wife ordered a present off the Internet.  As of yet, we've not received it, the company has not responded to her emails, its voice messaging system is full and not receiving messages. Fortunately, this is small dollar issue that we can dispute with the credit card company. However, you may find the following information provided in this link helpful. 

Stocks that come with Perks 

Some companies still offer investor perks for owning their stock. Shareholder-perk programs maintain the strong favorable and positive associations with the brand.  

In addition to a year-round 8% discount on auto insurance through its Geico unit, Berkshire Hathaway shareholders get a variety of breaks on items ranging from electronics and furniture to jewelry and artwork during the company's annual meeting weekend each May. 

At Integrity Advisory, we have promoted the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders' discount at Nebraska Furniture Mart for years and many of our clients have taken advantage of it.  

Kimberly-Clark shareholders can pay $24.49 for a gift box from the company filled with Kleenex tissues, diaper wipes and $25.50 worth of coupons for other products. The retail value of the items in the gift box is $45. 

Proof of Ownership 

In some instances, the perks aren't necessarily easy to get. For instance, Ford shareholders qualify if they've held at least 100 shares for at least six months, and they fill out a form and send proof of stock ownership to the company, which in turn sends the shareholder a personal identification number to give to the dealer. 

The actual dollar amount of the discount varies by model and dealer availability, but a letter sent to shareholders describing the program says the price is approximately 4% above the employee price, "saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars on the purchase price." Ironically, fewer than 1,000 or so cars a year are sold to shareholders using the special pricing, a spokesman says. 

IBM gives its investors a code they can use to access the online IBM shareholder store, where refurbished desktop and laptop computers, monitors and accessories are on sale for discounts up to 25%.

Since IBM got out of the personal computer business in 2005, the refurbished equipment it offers is from other manufacturers, including Lenovo Group, IBM tosses in free shipping and extended warranties. 

Royal Caribbean Cruises and  Carnival each offer shareholders who hold 100 or more shares onboard credit for use during trips on one of their cruise ships. The credits range in value from $50 to $250, depending on the length of the trip. 

I am not a gambler. However, horse-race track operator Churchill Downs gives shareholders two season passes for general admission to any of its tracks, including Churchill Downs (Kentucky Derby day included), Arlington Park in Illinois, Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans and Calder Racecourse Miami. 

The passes get holders access to the infield and paddock, but not the seating areas in the grandstand. Since the different tracks operate on different seasonal schedules, it's possible to use the two free passes to access Churchill-owned facilities all year. 

Though shareholder discounts aren't available from Disney in the U.S., Paris-based Euro Disney offers investors who own at least 100 shares a program called the "shareholders club." Club members can get up to five tickets to the Euro Disney theme park in France for 15% off, and 10% to 25% discounts on lodging, entertainment, food and souvenirs. 

Shareholder discounts are few and far between anymore. Thus, if you own a stock in company that has a program, and you intend to purchase from the company anyway, then you might as well take advantage of them. 

Friends looking out for one another  

I realize that this is completely out of the context of investments or finance. However, the attached link is to an amazing story and video of a cape buffalo coming to rescue its friend being attacked by a lion. The video is not gruesome, but a heartwarming illustration of a friend looking out for another, whether it be man or beast! 


"If you haven't got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble."

                   Bob Hope

"Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind."

                   Mary Ellen Chase


Tony Moeller, CPA


The information listed in this commentary is a compilation of various publicly available sources and is for informational purposes only. It is not a recommendation or solicitation of any particular investment or strategy. A risk of loss is involved with investments in the stock and bond markets.  

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