Of course with a title like “Marketing for Nefarious Purposes” this post is about credit cards.
First off a little background on me: I love profit and consider myself a capitalist (I used to have to say that in hushed tones when I lived in Los Angeles), but I also believe you can make money without being a social parasite.
Consider this recent article about Capital One’s marketing plan for its credit cards. From overlimit and late-payment fees of course, with an interesting twist. It targets poorer people and gives them credit cards with low limits. As soon as a cardholder exceeds the limit on its card, Capital One sends another card out with a low limit. Hits the limit again? Another credit card solicitation. I wonder why this site exists.
While there are other charges of posting payments late in order to charge late-payment fees, I find the above marketing tactic particularly offensive. Look, I get that in some ways Capital One and other cards like it are doing people a service by offering people without ideal credit scores a chance to build credit, but at some point it becomes predatory. Same thing with cash advance stores. I grew up calling that type of service loan sharking. Other people call it usury.
People have to take responsibility for themselves, which sadly seems to happen less and less every day in this country. But when the topic of credit isn’t taught to our young people, most people don’t understand it enough to teach their own children, and you have credit card marketers targeting drunk / high college students at spring break, it’s a recipe for disaster.
There’s a great organization out there that I volunteered with in Los Angeles called Operation Hope. Opportunities exist all over the country where you can speak to young people or even adults about finance and credit. It doesn’t take a lot of your time and I found it extremely rewarding.
Finally, I don’t want to seem like Captain Morality – heaven knows I have my issues – with this whole blog, but a reminder you to count your blessings. I ran into an old friend that I probably hadn’t seen in a dozen years. My kids aged 17 months and 3 months were with me and he told me about his kids, 9 years and 16 months.
I said something about him being smarter than I am for spacing it out and he said he had another child in between that was supposedly healthy, went full term, and died because of lung problems. That about knocked me on the floor as I can’t even imagine the horror of having a child pass away. Keep that in mind the next time your daughter spills dayquil all over the floor and after you’ve had a chance to call Poison Control and determine she’s okay and you realize the whole carpet needs replaced. Have a great weekend.