The whole story revolves around how these two call center account managers for MBNA, now a subsidiary of Bank of America, would hard sell credit card customers on expensive cash advances. The piece goes into how they would use all sorts of hard sell tactics, preying on the financial weaknesses of callers, finding any angle to try to wedge a nice fat cash advance in there. There was also the obligatory swing at credit card companies and their terms & conditions, which include the 0% cash advance or balance transfer jumping to the default rate of 28% if they missed a payment, “even by a day.” (Late is late, a minute, a day, a year… it’s still late)
The one woman claims to have “tricked” customers into taking $250M in cash advances, some of which didn’t have a strong enough credit history to warrant the advance. She also gave an example about how she was told to hard sell to an old man in his 90s who had maybe $100,000 in credit available (she never said if she was successful).
Yes, credit card companies are selfish and greedy and exist to try to earn as much money as possible. They are not unlike any other company though and if you were a shareholder of Bank of America or Citigroup, you’d want them to try to generate as much profit as possible. It’s just that the majority of Americans are in credit debt, so the popular opinion is to rail against those companies (just like the popular opinion is to rail against oil companies, power supply companies, airlines, etc.).
Where was personal accountability in all this? The one woman, the one who said less in the interview, quit after a year and a half, I applaud her. The other woman feasted on the fruits of her successful selling techniques. She paraded the fact that she “sold” $250 million in cash advances and balance transfers, some of which were done in a predatory fashion, and acted as if MBNA put a gun to her head and forced her to do it. We all make choices in our lives and hers was to sell credit to people who couldn’t afford it and then go on CNN to get her fifteen minutes.
Yes, credit card companies try to get as much money as they can out of you, every business does, but everyone already knows this already. What we didn’t know before watching this piece was that the call center account managers, the one’s doing the hard selling, felt they had no choice but to get financially strapped customers deeper into the hole.