CHESTERFIELD, Mo. -- Citing unspecified complaints, Dierbergs Markets here tested, but then decided it would withdraw prepaid psychic phone cards, said a company source who asked to remain anonymous.
The retailer set the product in all 15 Dierbergs video departments July 3, according to Ken Howard, senior vice president for supplier American Design Group, Webster Groves, Mo. Initial verbal reports indicated the cards were doing well at Dierbergs, said Howard, who was unaware of Dierbergs decision to withdraw the merchandise.
The cards are unique, according to American Design, and are not prepaid phone cards in the traditional sense. They contain a telephone number dedicated to the Psychic Alliance, Anaheim Hills, Calif. Calls to that number are routed to available psychics located around the country, Howard said. The Psychic Alliance handles the calls and administers charges based on length of time.
The process works in the following manner: Psychics call a central switching station, signifying their availability. Then, calls by cardholders are routed to the various psychics. "They have a couple of thousand psychics on call," said Howard.
Currently, the cards are available in a 10-minute denomination, although the average call for a psychic consultation lasts longer than that, Howard said. Those exceeding the 10-minute limit may be prompted for a credit-card number. The call then may simply continue.
Dierbergs merchandised the cards for $19.99. Sitting on the video counters, they hung batch-activated on a two-hook wire display, according to Michele Williams, special promotions director at American Design. Promotional materials for the prepaid cards showed a header card on the wire display touting the price and asking, "Seeking Answers?"
The supplier will look into creating 15- and 20-minute cards after demand for the initial offering is evaluated. American Design exclusively markets the product for the Psychic Alliance, the nation's largest such organization, defined by the number of psychics it employs. The psychic industry generates over $2 billion in annual revenues, according to American Design.
With a price point that ranges between $19.99 and $29.99, depending on the retailer, the product has received considerable interest from other food retailers, according to the supplier. "We've seen a lot of excitement for this," said Howard. "A lot of stores have contacted us for testing." He said a number of regional supermarket chains, which he declined to name until deals are completed, were "looking to test-merchandise it"