Saturday, November 14, 2009

Opting out of doubletalk


The statement for last month's credit card bill was almost filed away in the WB records drawer when we noticed something different on the page. In the middle of the reverse side, nestled among the minuscule 4-point legalese, was a box. And in the box, a bunch of slightly larger words in screaming caps.

Clearly, it was important (how had it been overlooked the first time?), and so we read:

IMPORTANT NOTICE OF CHANGES IN ACCOUNT TERMS: WE ARE CHANGING ACCOUNT TERMS, INCLUDING INCREASING THE PURCHASE AND CASH ADVANCE FEE, AND HOW WE CHANGE THE TERMS OF YOUR AGREEMENT WITH US. PLEASE READ THIS CHANGE IN TERMS.

Got that so far? Change in terms: we are changing our terms including how we change our terms... so read the information you are reading about our changing terms.

Damn! This wins some kind of Corporate Bullshit of the Year award for executing a linguistic three-point double flip reverse loop.

Whatever that would be. Now, let's go on:

YOU CAN OPT OUT OF SOME OF THE CHANGES LISTED ABOVE, INCLUDING THE ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE AND FEE INCREASES BY CALLING US TO OPT OUT. HOWEVER, YOU WILL NO LONGER BE ABLE TO USE YOUR ACCOUNT FOR PURCHASES OR CASH ADVANCES, BECAUSE YOUR ACCOUNT WILL BE CLOSED WHEN YOU OPT OUT.

Translation: You can opt out by opting out, but if you opt out, we'll cancel your card.

Translation of translation: You fucking peasants, we've got you by the balls.

Of course, no annual percentage rates have been mentioned "above" — because they've been buried in the 4-point font part of the statement, not in this screaming-caps box.

And what is that new rate going to be?

31% monthly.

It's worth mentioning here that Mafia "loan sharks" typically charge 10% to 20% of the weekly balance (40% to 80% per month), meaning that U.S. banks, with the full blessing of the United States Congress, are now only nine percentage points away from qualifying as hoodlums on the FBI's organized crime watch list.

But we digress.

No comments: