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Does Bank One really think sending me deceptively written marketing will make me a customer?

By Andrew Pollack on 03/23/2005 at 08:17 PM EDT

Like all of you, I get credit card offers almost daily in the postal mail. I've noticed a trend though. I can almost guess the card vendor based on the type and level of deception they used to get you to open it. I've had one recently that was specifically designed to look like a bank statement. It even said statement on it. In smaller print, on the back, it said the letter contained a "statement of offer". Who is fooled by this?

Two credit card companies are spending ridiculous sums of money to try to get me to sign up. Citibank -- who seem to prefer the mode of deception whereby they send you a letter as close to indistinguishable from an airline miles statement as possible, then if you fall for it and open the envelope they offer you miles to join. The other is Bank One. Bank One tries so many different deception methods to get me to open their junk mail, that I'm starting to get annoyed.

While I appreciate the fact that this junk mail subsidizes my other postal mail and keeps stamp costs down, I find it really uncomfortable to be the target of so much concentrated deception. If anyone from Bank One is out there, I have a question for you. Do you seriously think, in some twisted logic, that deceiving me as often as possible and in as many devious ways as you can is likely to make me want to be your customer? Lets think this through, shall we? The last thing I want in a banking relationship is a bank that tries to trick me. Surely I'm not alone in this.

Want to win my business? Here's what MBNA did -- they're who I do virtually all my credit purchases with. First, never call me. I'll call you. Second, when I do call, put someone on the phone who actually wants to help me, and speaks my language natively. If you choose to shuffle me off to the lowest bidder for a phone conversation, you're not going to do well competing against a bank who employs several thousand people near my own town. Most of all -- communicate with me honestly as a human being, not deceptively as a target.

Bank One -- I'd rather spend a night out's worth of extra money on anyone else, than do business with a company which believes trickery is an acceptable way to win business.


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