Sometimes I wonder at how someone with a lot of education, experience, and intelligence can be so stupid. It pains me to contemplate that grown men and women think so little of people as credit card executives and advertising people do.
BANK OF AMERICA
In 2008, they instituted a new tagline that is kind of offensive. “Bank of Opportunity”. They claim that this stands for all of the opportunities for the customers who bank there and for all of the different customers that can be helped there beyond the large, corporate customers they are more known for.
I’ve made my views on BofA clear in other posts, so I’ll keep this short. I have long believed that the “Bank of Opportun-ists” has stood for each customer of the bank and how the bank can screw them out of money in fees, higher loan rates, lower savings rates, and poor service. I guess it’s all in how you look at it.
Where I live, Chase doesn’t have a large banking presence, but their credit cards are everywhere. Their slogan is “Chase what matters”. I’m guessing this means to strive for the things in life that are important to you.
Generally, I have no problem with Chase. I have and use one of their credit cards, and no complaints. The interest I pay is fair and affordable, and they are good with increasing my limit whenever an increase is warranted.
Where I do have a problem, is with their new advertising gimmicks. Their newest commercial shows this young couple at home when the TV goes out. The wife “allows” the husband to go get a new TV. The next part of the commercial shows him at some retailer, looking at large screen, flat screen, projection, HD, whatever TVs. He’s sitting in a recliner looking at a TV the size of a wall. There’s a voice-over that describes their new “innovation”. You can text Chase to get your available credit line. The guy does this to find out how much he can “afford” to spend. The next shot is back in the home of the couple, with them watching a substantially smaller TV than any of the ones he was looking at.
First, I have to know:
Exactly HOW difficult it is to call to find out your debt threshold for a card?!
I use debt threshold in favor of the misleading “available balance” for clarity: When you use your credit card, you are increasing your debt, not pulling money out of some mythical “available balance” pool. Once people understand that, you can start to make smart decisions about using credit or not. Anyways, calling to get a balance used to take me about 30 seconds. Since I’m not as adept as some, texting will probably take me four months.
The part of this that offends me most is that this is directly targeted at you. Chase is actively targeting people who:
- Are familiar with and use SMS (texting).
- Are likely to want to spend more money than they have available
- Would make an impulse purchase of a large-ticket item
Traditionally, these things point to young people. Credit cards have a long and sordid history with preying on young people, and this is just the next step in a long progression.
Here’s the point: These companies use the advertising they do because it is successful. If BofA changed it’s tagline to, “Because eventually you’ll need us for something”, it would be refreshingly honest, but it would not make money for them. They would drop that slogan in seconds, and the person who came up with it would be gone before the first brochure was printed. Similarly, if Chase went to “Chase the people with better stuff than yours”, nobody would want their product. As consumers, you need to look past any company’s advertising, and do some research to find out whether or not you need their services, or if you can do better with some other company. As young people, you can prove the advertising people wrong by not making the impulse purchase. You can shop for financial services that meet your needs today, and that will be able to change to accommodate your needs tomorrow.