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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

TV ads I hate: “talk to your credit card companies”

I think this “TV ads I hate” could be a regular feature — certainly, there are so many awful TV ads that there’d be an endless supply of them even if They stopped making them today. Which They won’t.

Today’s installment: the ad from a consortiuum of credit card companies about a woman who had to go live with her mother, who is “a character” who thinks her daughter “can do anything.” And because the daughter was now out of work — presumably because the Sicko culture we live in does not allow for any in-home care for her mother, not even a few hours a day: either you’re totally fine on your own, or you’re an institutionalized vegetable — she “got behind in [her] payments.” But she “got some good advice: talk to your credit card companies.” And in doing so, this cheery, bouncy woman discovered that apparently just explaining that you need to be making pies with your senile mother all day is enough to get the credit card companies off your back.
Life is not only awesome when you’re caring for a declining parent while also unemployed and unable to pay your bills, but the credit card companies are awesome about it too, and are totally cool with you taking a year or five off from your payments. (Small print: Default rates may be in excess of 35 percent, depending on your credit rating.)

In fact, this woman is so pumped about discovering that she got to talk to an actual “human being” on the other end of the credit card 800-numbers — those people in India are so nice! — that it almost makes me want to default on all my credit cards just so I can talk to an actual human being too! Who wouldn’t! Teetering toward bankruptcy is a beautiful thing, like feeling fresh and being ready to respond to her at the right moment.

*gak*



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  • Accounting Ninja

    Huh! I’ve never seen that one. It does kind of bug me how on commercials, starting your own business is presented as being super easy. Look! Now we’re baking pies and going to be aaaallllright! Why didn’t we think of this sooner??

  • I haven’t seen this one either, probably because I don’t watch TV, just DVDs, but as an employee of a major credit card company I have to admit to curiosity as to who sponsors these ads. Will have to check with some TV-watching friends. Do these come on any particular channel at any particular time or are they ubiquitous?

  • misterb

    The ad I hate (or maybe love for being so wrong) is the donut commercial where the kids are turning into zombies from too much TV and Internet so their Dad brings them back to life with … donuts! Why didn’t he just give them crack? Instead of being entertained – eat sugary fatty foods!!! I’m flabbergasted every time I see it, and I’m scared that there are parents out in TVLand thinking, “Hmmm, that seems like sound nutritional advice”

  • Victor Plenty

    PSAs without the Service part are a specialty of the financial sector. This is just another example.

    This ad’s message is partly true: talking to your credit card companies is better than nothing. If you just stop paying, with no attempt to negotiate better terms, you’ll likely face maximum penalty interest rates and ruthless collection agencies.

    Talking to credit card companies yourself is only a little better. Unless you are a trained negotiator and a financial services insider, you will still get screwed. More politely than the collection agencies would do it, but screwed nonetheless.

    The “credit counseling” services (sponsored by the banking industry) might get you a slightly better deal than you could negotiate yourself, but they still work for the banks. If you want someone to negotiate on your behalf, without putting the banks’ interests first, you need to get your own lawyer.

    You will never hear that truth in a banking industry PSA. They want you talking with people trained to tell you only the parts of the law that the banks want you to know about. For example, you can be sure they’ll all say bankruptcy is never a viable option.

    Hiring your own lawyer gives you a chance to have someone who is really on your side.

    Finding a lawyer you can trust is beyond the scope of this comment. :)

    (And no, I’m not a lawyer, and none of my relatives are lawyers. In case you were wondering.)

  • MaryAnn

    The credit card commercial is all over cable here in NYC. One of the banks involved is Citibank, but there are other majors involved, too. There’s a URL on the ad, but I keep blanking on it, cuz I so don’t want to think about this ad. But next time I see it, I’ll jot it down and post.

    Oh, and there’s a second ad in this series I’m gonna have to rant about…

  • MaryAnn

    Victor: Of course it makes sense to talk to your credit card company if you’re having problems. It’s the tone of this ad that is so horrible, and so misleading.

  • MaryAnn

    The URL is http://www.helpwithmycredit.org/ .

    The companies involved with this are Capital One, Citi, Discover, and MasterCard.

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