When did everyone become a banker? Seriously. I’m asking.
It’s clear that we, as a nation, have had ample reason to pay more attention to topics like deficits, credit, borrowing, lending (neither a borrower nor a lender be, apparently) and any sort of guaranteed return on investment.
Like many of you, I am delighted to learn more about these and other mind-expanding topics from investment professionals.
But I do not really want to discuss any of the above with the nice lady at Victoria’s Secret or that delightful man at Kohl’s. Yet they both seem hell-bent on advising me about increasing my credit.
Are you with me? Well I wish you had been, so you could have distracted the salesperson from advising me that I should open a Victoria’s Secret account today. (If she had wanted me on the last chopper out of Saigon she couldn’t have been more vehement.)
My mind was on pajama pants and completing the sale in an orderly fashion. Hers was on my financial well-being.
“Just these please,” I said handing over my items.
“If you open a Victoria’s Secret Angel card today, you save 10% on this purchase and we’ll email you different savings every month,” she said, looking intently at me.
“No thanks,” I said.
She looked very disappointed at my short-sightedness. She was offering me a chance to better myself and I was acting like I was buying a pair of pajamas.
“But, you’d save 10%.” She said.
“I’m going to have to take a pass,” I replied, as firm as the fake buttocks on the mannequins behind her register.
I’m no math major, but 10% of $36.00 doesn’t seem like a life-changer. And (thanks irresponsible nation of spenders!) we all know that applying for new credit is actually bad for your credit.
We weren’t done.
“It just takes a minute,” she said, having just spent waaaaaay more than a minute trying to sell me on this concept.
I stood my ground and my financial mentor was not happy. No “thank you” or “come again.” I was an ingrate. Good riddance!
There is clearly a retail guru somewhere who has reinvigorated this notion that we should all have credit relationships with every store we frequent.
I thought that this had fallen out of fashion (no pun intended). Once the bloom of having one’s own credit has faded—usually a few years into adulthood—having a fistful of credit cards doesn’t sound liberating. It sounds like more bills every month.
But I can’t lay the trend at the feet of any one store. This dynamic is everywhere: home improvement, pet supplies, shoes stores. No sector is safe.
It can’t be a whole bunch of fun to be the salesperson, either. I get that. It’s not their idea of a good time to have this conversation with virtually every customer. But why does the guru not tell them to stop pushing after the initial “no.”
Maybe this is why I am not a guru. I would tell them that the first “no” is probably a real one.
Last weekend at Old Navy I was buying my son some socks that were deeply discounted. I think it was, like, five pairs for $2. A real steal, except I was paying for them.
As I stood behind another customer I heard the familiar, “Would you like to open an Old Navy card blah blah . . . ”
Surely when it was my turn, the guru would have at least explained that it wasn’t worth the salesperson’s time to even begin the credit discussion in the two-dollar range. But no. Our guru is nothing if not persistent.
The salesperson began her part of our conversation, and then stopped.
“Do you want to get some more stuff? Because if you do, then it might make more sense to open an Old Navy card today.”
It’s a start, my friends, a very good start. I’d like to think Suze Orman would be proud of both of us.