Because, frankly, if there is any industry from which consumers need more protection than credit card companies, I am not sure what it is. Not that I don’t appreciate the wake-up call. I like to get up early to
shoot pool feed the birds.
I love my credit cards too much. But it is a cold, plastic love, borne of convenience. I have never taken the time to develop a personal relationship with the people without whom my periodic credit card-fueled escapes from the Midwest would be impossible.
I am only kidding of course! I love the Midwest! Where else can you find entire neighborhoods of people who use their credit cards to purchase premium wild birdseed and snow rakes?
These are the right kind of people. I know this because I read it in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, in a heartwarming story about the credit card industry’s efforts to develop a more personal relationship with its customers.
"Today the goal is for customers to get a warm-and-fuzzy feeling from their credit-card company," explained the former chief executive of Visa USA. "If we have a deep relationship with you … you’ll listen when we give advice."
Among other innovations, the industry has begun compiling the details of their customers’ purchasing habits in order to profile the kind of people who can be trusted to make their payments on time. In fact, if you have not already done so, and you would like to improve your relationship with your creditors, go immediately to the nearest hardware store and put a snow rake and 8 pounds of Wild Delight on your credit card.
On the other hand, if you have recently charged a night out at a drinking or billiards-type establishment or have any interest in skull-decorated accessories, you may be eligible for a no-cost counseling session with a former bouncer named Rudy. Rudy used the psychological training he received as a credit card debt collector to help a Massachusetts man work through his anger over the loss of his marriage.
"One step toward ending that anger is putting this debt behind you," Rudy counseled. "Also, you should consider buying a birdfeeder."
As a result, the man was able to walk away from his problems only $2,000 poorer than if he’d stuck to his initial offer to pay 35 percent.
If that is not love, it is at least pretty strong interest.