Friday, 16 September 2011

Here’s one dumb sucker who swallowed the maggot of 6 months free interest!

1 credit card = 1 leaflet, 2 letters and 3 booklets = 63 pages of illegible blurb and incomprehensible small print, lovingly lacquered into slick smooth selling copy for a product I neither sought out, nor want, nor need.

63 pages?

So did it work? Well, here’s one dumb sucker who swallowed the maggot of 6 months free interest. Did I read the blurb? Do I have any idea what I’ve let myself in for?

63 pages? You’re ‘avin’ a laugh.

My old Ulster Bank MasterCard sat in my wallet for years, neither exciting nor annoying me. Not a second of my life was wasted wondering whether it was either wonderful or deficient. There’s more to life than a credit card.

But Ulster Bank decided that my card just wasn’t up to scratch. Evidently they’ve come up with a way to make more money out of my spending patterns, so back in June they wrote to tell me that I was being upgraded to a bigger better more generally heavenly credit card. If I didn’t want it to happen I could tell them, otherwise I’d receive the upgrade automatically.

Upgrade, huh? There’s a word to make you feel fantastically self-important and all just a bit in love with yourself. Nice marketing, Ulster Bank.

Go on big boy, hit me with the Barry White soundtrack:
Hmmmm mhhhmmmmhh.... can’t get enough of your UPgrade baaaaaby....

Having felt thoroughly intimidated by the acres of small print, I scanned my eyes quickly over some of the big-print blurb. Well looky-here! Purchases on the new card will be interest-free for 6 months.

‘Yowza!’ thought I, in my financially adult and sophisticated way, ‘Let’s have ourselves a li’l bit o’that interest-free action, baby!’

For a few minutes I read more blurb, trying to find justification for the use of the word upgrade. Nu-huh. This upgrade exists only in the minds of the Ulster Bank and MasterCard, happy in the knowledge that they’ve caught another one, hooked on their line for a few more years.

The leaflet was entitled Your Upgrade To A Credit Card That Offers You More, which ran to 8 pages, telling me about their super new YourPoints points system. The words tumbled excitedly from the page. When I’ve spent a mere €47,600 on my new credit card, I’ll have enough points to take one adult and one car on the ferry from Rosslare to Fishguard.
Oh my god. I can’t wait. Talk dirty to me whydoncha.

After that letter and leaflet, Ulster Bank sent another letter and three separate booklets that must overlap, please say they do, please say they overlap, because I don’t want to believe that it’s possible to say that much about a credit card. 63 pages? Please tell me they’re telling me the same things over and over again. I’ll never know, because I know that if I read them, I’ll drop dead and inside my skull they’ll find Campbells Cream of Mushroom Soup.

My favourite booklet arrived next: a hard-to-resist little number called Ulster Bank MasterCard Insurance and YourPoints Terms and Conditions, which runs to a full 28 pages of small print, designed to melt your brain like a naked bar of chocolate atop a hot radiator.

The second to arrive in the mail was a charming little ditty entitled Ulster Bank MasterCard Important Information, with a total of 19 fascinating pages crammed with all sorts of Must-Know goodies. At least, I presume it is, but while I was trying to read it my soul resigned, escaped the confines of my body and dragged its belly over mud and gravel, crawling inexorably towards the Caverns of Hopelessness.

The final blurb arrived in the form of the third booklet, ingeniously called Conditions of Use, a masterpiece of mind-numbingly minuscule print, gate-folding into another full 8 pages .

63 pages?

Let’s step back, pause for a second and take the unusually empathetic step of trying to sympathise with the legal departments of credit card companies. We might only wonder at the titanic levels of idiotic human behaviour that have forced credit card companies to legally reinforce themselves: simply start with ‘Dyuuurk, I hur hur spent all the money hur but I didn’t know I had to hur pay it all back hur hur’ and go anywhere you like from there.

I know that as each crazy person brings another crass lawsuit as a result of their inability to balance the use of their own brain and plastic, these companies are forced to protect themselves, but 63 pages?

63 pages?
What can they be saying?

Yet I’m happy in my ignorance. The day has yet to come when I feel the need to sit down and read 63 pages of blurb and small print.

They have beaten me.
They can and will have my money, but they’ll never take my spirit.

Now, what about those interest-free purchases? HooooMumma!


Jeanne said...

Wow - that's a lot of trees sacrificed for a 63 pager. How many people get those, do you suppose and how many people actually read them? I wouldn't unless I had a bad bout of insomnia!


Charlie Adley said...

Too right, Jeanne! Away from my own self-obsessed neuroses there are thousands, tens of thousands, who knows how many poeple, getting all that nonsense in the mail.

Sadly, I don't think it would help insomnia, as you can't even engage with enough for it be soporific.

Paz said...

Its no wonder the bank charges are so mad, that and the huge wages the big guys get. After we get screwed into paying for their sins and bailing them out

Charlie Adley said...

Too right Paz - if it's sense we want, there's none o be found in the banking sector!

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