Every day when I drive home from work, I see a painfully intelligence-insulting billboard ad put up by some bank (it’s rather interesting that I can’t even remember which bank, isn’t it?). It reads something like this: “3 cents back on every debit card purchase? Just give ‘em a toaster and be done with it!”
So let’s think about this for a moment, shall we, with a few assumptions:
– A typical person makes *at least* 10 payments totalling $100 a week, not including rent or mortgage payments.
– This person could probably get *some* cash-back or rewards non-debit (credit) card.
– Such a card would easily pay 1% in cash or rewards (for instance, on my cards, I get a free round trip airfare for a spend of $25,000, a reward of at least 1.2%).
Given this scenario, practically anyone could make the same purchases on one of the rewards cards and in a year, make (from a *very* conservative estimate) $52 as opposed to $15.60 with the crappy debit card. Not to mention enjoy far more consumer protections. And the hypothetical $25 toaster that the ad makes fun of? It would take 834 purchases on the debit card to earn the equivalent of that toaster.
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But the latest promotion I just got in my inbox even tops the lameness of the debit card “deal.” Here’s the copy:
My [American Express Card] WishList returns June 6, 2006! Not only are we offering some of the hottest products for spring at Cardmember-only prices, but we’ll also be granting three Cardmember wishes on the last day. So tell us what you wish for by May 14, and one of your wishes may come true.
Hmm, I thought. Aside from the it’s-so-‘99-ness of the “My” prefix, that sounds pretty neat. Clearly it’s one of those sweepstakes where I say, hey, I want a [whatsit up to such-and-such value] and if I win, I get it. Right?
Uh, maybe not. Digging down into the fine print on the Web site, I see this:
Is My Wish a sweepstakes?
No, this promotion is not a sweepstakes, as Cardmembers will be given an opportunity to purchase the submitted Wish should their Wish be selected. Wishes will be selected at the sole discretion of American Express. The Wish selected will be offered to the Wish’s submitter to purchase before making limited quantities available to the general Cardmember audience, who will also be eligible to purchase the item(s); the same Terms and Conditions of My WishList will apply.
Oh boy! Let me see if I understand this right. I get my inbox crammed with another AMEX ad that has nothing to do with my account. I then have the wonderous opportunity of coming up with my dream present, vacation, etc., and filling out some form on AMEX’s Web site (undoubtedly opening me up to more junk mail). And then, if I’m lucky—oh so lucky!—AMEX will choose MY fantasy to come true and offer me a chance to buy it or pay for it myself (I guess where that’s where the “MY” comes in: “at MY Expense”). Of course, they won’t offer it to all their cardmembers… right away, at least, so I’ll feel particularly special.
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Who comes up with crap like this? And does anyone actually get excited by it?
Sadly, I’m going to guess that the answer to the second question is “yes,” or why would we continue to see such ridiculously dumb marketing?
Ah, don’t mind me. I just had a (thankfully rare) day spent at the local mall and I’m feeling rather anti-commerce at the moment in general.