Marketing isn’t what you say; it’s what you do. In light of that, is there an industry that has done a worse job of marketing–or treating its customers–than the credit card industry? Think about it: First, they ask you to become a customer, often luring you with powerful enticements. Next, they follow up by begging you to spend more money with them, such as by transferring other account balances or using checks that they send you (which you never requested, by the way). Then, all of a sudden, they decide to jack up your interest rate and your minimum payment, even if you’ve never missed a payment. In short, they seductively reel you in and literally go out of their way to put you into a financial situation that can become onerous at best and disastrous at worst. Why would any customer who has gone through this experience reward such a company with its loyalty?
(Note: I’m not saying that customers aren’t guilty of having charged more than they should have; I’m just saying that considering the complicity of the credit card companies, their shabby treatment of their customers is unconscionable.)
Actually, I suspect that most customers of these credit card companies don’t consider themselves to be loyal to them, and that they’re still with them only because they can’t afford to pay off their balance. I would hope, however, that at the first opportunity these customers will abandon their current credit card companies never to patronize them again.
If they do, there is a new credit card company that appears to be much more deserving of their loyalty: PartnersFirst. This refreshing new company offers much lower interest rates and doesn’t levy annual fees or late-payment charges. In the words of founder and president Hal Erskine, “I realized there was an opportunity to give cardholders a square deal and still make a profit.”
I’ve always felt that if you want to launch a new business, you should do it in an industry where the existing companies aren’t giving customers the quality and service they deserve. PartnersFirst has done exactly that, and I for one will be cheering for them to finish first.