For many years now, the banks have been sending credit cards in the mail. You’ve been preapproved for a loan, of course, or so they say in the beginning. You really haven’t, you see, until you respond and the bank has run a credit check on you, to see if you’re worthy of their trust. Then, you might receive a credit card with a ridiculously low credit limit on it, just enough to bait you into seeking a higher one.
It used to be, back when interest rates weren’t so low and the banks were making money, it was easier to get a loan. You’d get all gussied up in your best suit and, God forbid, shine your shoe before going to see a loan officer and do your best impressing him or her with your trustworthiness for using some of their money. How well a person presented himself , the pride he took in his appearance, clearly had a bearing on the officer’s decision.
Not anymore. Most people have forgotten how to dress properly; most couldn’t tie a knot in a tie for the life of them. Others couldn’t fathom the process of shining their shoes – after all, you really can’t shine a pair of sneakers.
This change in grooming habits of the average American hasn’t stopped the banks from devising ways to do business with you. Banks and companies with products to sell have lost sleep dreaming up ways to put those products right into your home, short of dropping them in your mailbox personally. What if the credit industry should take the bull by the horns and, instead of sending the means to buy, just go ahead and send the merchandise.
Imagine coming home from work, or the unemployment line, wherever you spend your day these days, to find a brand new La-Z Boy recliner sitting right where your old La-Z Boy recliner used to sit.
“Say,” you say to your wife (or whomever you’re sharing space with these days), “where did the brand-spanking new La-Z Boy recliner come from, dear (or whomever).”
“The nice people at the furniture store dropped it off this afternoon,” dear says. “Isn’t is lovely?”
“Oh, yeah, it’s a beauty,” you say, “But who told the furniture store to deliver the lovely La-Z Boy recliner?”
“Nobody. They just figured it was time you had a new one.”
“They did, did they? And did they figure how we are going to pay for the lovely La-Z Boy recliner?”
“Oh, don’t worry about a thing, dear. The store said they have taken care of everything. They were so wonderful. They arranged to have the payments removed from your social security check every month Isn’t that wonderful?”
“Yeah, I’ll say,” you say.
There are, as you know, many products that can be bought in such a way. I don’t think I’d want to be in the room when my wife opens a surprise package of women’s undergarments shipped from Frederick’s of Hollywood. That should not be considered a part of a successful marketing strategy.
But, what if you arrived home one day to find a brand new car sitting in your driveway, perhaps a real spiffy one like a 2017 BMW 1055 Gran Torino, msrp about $100,000. Or maybe a 2017 Cadillac CTS Sport Sedan, selling for circa 60,000 balloons. Lying in the front seat you discover an envelope addressed to CARSORT 2017 DQ – Occupant, which, sad to say, is you. You rip open the envelope to find a form letter that reads:
“An exhaustive credit analysis conducted by our firm revealed to us that you do not owe enough money. We have, therefore, chosen you to become the proud owner of this incredibly aesthetic, totally ergonomic, richly designed automobile.
“To save you the hassle of acquiring ownership of this fine ride - and ain’t it a beauty, sir? – we have extracted a nominal down payment from your savings account. This extraction was an amount your exhaustively researched financial portfolio indicates you can easily afford, provided, of course, you are not planning a withdrawal anytime in the near future.
“As a further service to you, sir, we have taken the liberty of registering this great set of wheels - and it truly is a beauty, isn’t it, sir? – in your name at the department of motor vehicles in your state of residence. You will find the registration fee on your credit card statement tagged DMV fee. On a personal note, please observe the personalized vanity plates already attached to the vehicle, which we are confident you will drive with pride. The cost of the plates and associated fees have been added to your water bill.
“Listen up! Should you choose to reject our kind offer, dial the above 900 number anytime between the hours of three and five a.m. on Saturday or Sunday morning; ask for the Phantom. Following the receipt of your call, we will initiate the necessary procedures to repossess this, the slickest automobile in the world today, from your premises. You have three days, including yesterday, to make this most important decision.
“Additionally, a refusal to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become the proud owner of this precision-built dandy, you will be liable for towing charges plus the cost of the totally over-priced vanity plates and, oh yeah, the smiley faces on the mirrors, which were added at our expense. Also, it will be your responsibility to notify the DMV and pay any transfer fees.
“Also, it will be your responsibility to contact our attorneys at your expense to arrange an equitable reimbursement to us for the inconvenience of wasting our time on you. If, however, we do not hear from you, your first interest payment is due the day after tomorrow.
“Sincerely, your good buddies at Movers and Shakers Merchandisers Inc. Somewhere Off Shore, USA!”