"By Cashing This Check": a sneaky bank trick
Not to sound too cranky, but I have to admit that I really hate invitations like the one I got this afternoon from JP Morgan Chase Bank. I open the official-looking letter that said "Check Enclosed" and, sure enough, the first thing I see is a check for $20.00 made out to me.
Nice! The bank's sent me twenty bucks.
But I know better. Reading the small print, it says "Cashing or depositing this check automatically enrolls you in the optional payment protection plan." Oh. Hmmm....
Oh, and did I mention that it's signed by the quasi-mythical Carter Franke too?
The small print explains that the cost is only $0.79 for each $100 of your average daily balance, which is pretty darn hard to figure out, in my opinion. If I have an average daily balance of $1500, then my cost for this payment protection plan would be 1500 / 100 * 0.79, or $11.85, which is only $142.20 annually. Not too terribly bad.
But here's what gets me about this. First, it's a sucker's trick for these companies to send legitimate checks that have strings attached. I can easily imagine people getting this mail, seeing the check, not paying particularly close attention, cashing it, then six months later wondering what this additional $12/mo charge is all about.
Secondly, if they have access to my account records, which the must do to know that they should send me this mail, why can't they send me a clear, coherent message that says "We have analyzed your account and found that your average daily balance across the last 12 months is $1132, which means that if you enrolled in this program your average monthly cost would have been only $9.36 for $15,000 of coverage."
Why? Because they're lazy and because just enough people who receive these junk letters are lazy enough to cash the check without figuring out what it's all about.
Gaining business through tricking customers certainly doesn't make me want to have Chase retain my business. How about you?
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