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Viewers respond to incentive programs used by big banks

July 27, 2014 at 6:41 PM EDT
A previous signature story about web-based incentive programs devised by behavioral economists and used by big financial institutions to try to boost savings prompted many skeptical comments from viewers around the country.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: And now, Viewers Like You, your feedback about some of our recent work. Our signature story last Sunday about web-based incentive programs devised by behavioral economists and used by big financial institutions to try to boost savings prompted many skeptical comments.

Panayiotis Terzis wrote us on Facebook.

“Developing willpower on your own is probably a better idea than becoming even more dependent on the digital grid.”

Anthony who wrote us on our website added this:

“First you have to convince people to live within their means, create a realistic household budge, and stick with it.”

But most of the responses we got expressed distrust of, even disdain for other big financial institutions.

Debora Godden wrote us on Facebook.

“Good idea on the face of it, but with the track record of these monsters, I would advocate ‘trust but verify.’ And look at it from the standpoint of what these big financial guys figure they’ll get out of it.”

And we heard this from Marie Dixon:

“Hey! You first on that responsible fiscal practice, big banks!”

Others commented about the difficulty of saving in the first place.

A person identified as, Ransom O’Shields wrote: “What is this save money…did um we fix the problems of living hand to mouth for 100 million Americans?”

M K added this: “Perhaps personal savings are 1/2 of what they were a generation ago because the interest rate on savings accounts and bonds is about 0% now compared to 7% a generation ago. No amount of self-incentivizing gimmickry will change that.”

And Peter Piper shared a similar view on Facebook.

“Save what? Between low wages and high prices, what is there to save?”

As always, let us know what you think of our stories on Twitter, Facebook or at newshour.pbs.org.