‘I had to stop, take my bag, put my money in the dirty red donut, and walk away’

MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle was left raging and, understandably, furious by Dollar Tree’s comments about its recent hikes in prices for cash and check transactions.

NBC’s Stephanie Ruhle, who was furious when she walked past her Dollar Tree store, wound up dishing out her own attack on the company on Wednesday

Dollar Tree’s shareholders got a taste of the company’s rising prices in November when the discount retailer told them it was putting prices up to offset a flood of higher labor costs across its entire industry. But Ruhle, who dropped her brand new family in a pricey housing market, said she became understandably outraged when she walked into a Dollar Tree store, forced to buy more items to make her bag of goods fit and then ended up jacking up her wallet on the fast-food counter.

“What kind of consumer can live off cash or a check and know that they’re never gonna see a single penny left over?” Ruhle said in an exclusive interview with Business Insider. “They don’t even need to raise prices to offset this incredible influx of labor costs.”

Ruhle was quick to point out that Dollar Tree, which caters to middle-class and upper-middle-class shoppers, doesn’t really “need” to raise its prices, but rather, can easily pass along any changes in the cost of living. But, like she said, Dollar Tree is clearly choosing to make customers work harder to make ends meet by raising prices.

“This isn’t free to raise [prices],” Ruhle said. “I’m talking about commodity costs which went up a few months ago and labor costs which are going up now. This is a momentary blip where they can raise their prices.”

Ruhle recalled walking into a store, her family, an adorable dog and a kitchen full of special presents (there was also the feeling that “we just want to eat before the holidays, but the idea of having to add dollars to our purchase is horrifying”) on Wednesday afternoon and being in the checkout line when she saw her fellow shoppers making a mad dash towards the fast-food line.

“As we’re coming out of the store and walking to our car, I knew what was coming because I’m now paying the price for my patronage as a family member of somebody at the cash register,” Ruhle said. “They’re trying to make a sale, after all.”

The trouble is that one purchase only slices a few cents off the cash conversion rate and, well, the cash register definitely suffers if more shoppers have to purchase more expensive items just to make themselves feel comfortable. So, when a penny on the cash register only adds a couple of cents to the transaction price, that’s not going to be a huge winner for Dollar Tree.

Plus, as Ruhle said, it’s just not the way Americans, especially lower-income families, shop.

“We don’t stand in the line for 20 minutes at a time at an ATM because it may take 30 seconds more for someone to give us our money back, so why would we stand in the line for 20 minutes and pay [an additional] dollar when it doesn’t do any good for the company?” she asked.

Video produced by Jonkheerl.com

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