Wednesday, April 23, 2008

is it any wonder we're all broke?

I saw a new favorite commercial on television the other night from one of my least favorite advertisers: VISA.

It depicts a man - baby-boomerish age - sitting in front of a large, state of the art flat screen TV - and a salesperson hovering around him, spelling out the features of the set, and no doubt encouraging a purchase. (Note that there is no woman in the commercial, looking askance at the possibility of spending thousands of dollars on a television.)

Luckily for the consumer to be, now completely entranced by the television and the hours of ecstasy it can provide, VISA is there - electronically of course - to help him make that difficult buying decision. Now, you can use your phone to have VISA send you a message about your credit limit, so you can decide on the spot whether or not to add another $5,000 to your card.

Isn't that so helpful? Now you don't even have to check your balance, or wait for your next statement, or make a phone call to see where you stand with your credit. You can just email them using your phone and find out immediately that it's a wonderful idea to add thousands of dollars to your balance.

This is completely ridiculous. Anyone who sends a text message to VISA to check his credit limit in order to buy a big screen TV is an infant who has no concept of something called delayed gratification. Pathetic.

And yet - I'll bet the message of the commercial is a big hit with consumers who can't wait to get deeper into debt with toys and gadgets they can't live without. I'm sure VISA's market research told them this was exactly the right move to make to capture even more financial half-wits who have no concept of money, debt and credit.

And - by the way - I don't have anything against large, flat screen TVs. I covet one in fact - just haven't quite seen my way clear to purchasing one for our family to enjoy. Things like tuition, rising household expenses and saving for the future always seem to take priority. Rats. I hate it when I'm sensible that way.

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