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Good luck with your marketing campaign, Chase: If the customer experience is anything like what we’ve been witnessing in astonishment and disgust lately, the “Ink” card will stink.

Thanks again to “M,” for bringing this to our attention: Chase has issued a news release entitled, “Chase Unveils New Marketing Campaign to Support Small Businesses.”  Unfortunately, after the way that Chase has systematically, callously, and heartlessly destroyed the dreams of approximately one million customers by mercilessly squeezing them through its onerous “2% minimum payment is now 5%” change in terms, I say “NOT.”

Further, speaking as someone whose work as an entrepreneurship educator and researcher on the subject of credit card usage by small businesses has led me to be extremely concerned about how banks at large are undermining the economic recovery, I will say my personal reaction in light of Chase’s behavior is “that dog won’t hunt.”

Do you want to support small businesses Chase?

I’ve been telling you how for months and months.  Bottom line, issue the other press release that I have demanded, and take back the 5% minimum payment that you unilaterally imposed on a million customers (as a coercive technique to switch customers from a low rate “life of the balance” promotion to a higher rate, limited duration account).

Chase: you can’t smooth over what you did with a glitzy ad campaign.  I admit, the stories of entrepreneurial aspirations, smiling faces glowing in the sunlight of supposed achievement, and other imagery that you’ll be using will be extremely compelling.  These portrayals make us feel good.  They are the American story, and what makes us who we are.  But those are the dreams of the entrepreneur, whereas apparently, your executives are up all night scheming and in their cauldron, they have definitely stirred a potion that causes nightmares.

Just like TV tobacco ads (when they used to be legal), you’ll show attractive, happy people who “glow” with energy and exude sex appeal and success.  But credit card companies are just like a pushers, and all they want to do is get customers hooked.  Then, they’ll change the terms and sink their teeth in until victims express the agony and frustration, like that which is evidenced in hundreds of thousands of stories — told and untold.  These are the real, true stories as told on the Internet, at kitchen tables, and in the workplaces of struggling small businesses, not the advertising pitch; they serve to reveal the dark side of being a Chase customer.

I’ve already seen spots running on TV.  However, I think every time one of those spots runs, this clip from CNN (or one of many others just like it) should also be aired, as a warning about the aforementioned “dark side”:



Forget the ads, forget the glamor, forget the entrepreneurial dreams, welcome to the real Chase.  I also don’t appreciate the defamatory excuse (the portrayal that these are slow-paying account holders who deserved it, quoting from the statement that was reportedly issued to CNN):

“TENS OF MILLIONS OF CHASE…LOANS HAVE BEEN PAID BACK IN LESS THAN 24 MONTHS…THERE HAVE BEEN A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF CUSTOMERS THAT HAVE NOT MADE AS MUCH PROGRESS.  OUR DESIRE IS TO HAVE THESE BALANCES PAID BACK IN A REASONABLE PERIOD OF TIME.”

I know you’d like me to lose my cool and start spewing expletives.  Believe me, I am tempted.  Very tempted.  But instead, I have a response that “reasonable people” can understand:

The impacted account holders were paying on time and in payment amounts that you established, Chase.  In numerous cases that I have documented they were paying, “more than the minimum.”  Nevertheless, as I have discussed many times, this game of shifting blame and obfuscation is irresponsible, harmful, and just plain mean-spirited.  Shame on you, Chase, for trying to chastise and lay blame on the very people who you previously called your “Most Valued Cardmembers,” as though they had become irresponsible laggards by slow-paying you.  If there’s anyone whose expectations are unreasonable, Chase, it is you.

In the future, you need customers who are mind-readers.  Your “Valued Cardmembers” have been honoring their obligations and acting in good faith.  You have impaled any semblance of honor and exposed your true nature as an organization that acted in bad faith, and now wants to get away with it.  But you won’t.

You remind me of some alien changeling creep shows, the kind with creatures presenting themselves with a beautiful face on the outside (when you issue statements to the media, which is certainly beholden to revenues from the splashy and extensive marketing campaign that you’ve just unveiled), but behind that facade is an organism whose sole purpose is to consume its victims, in some horrible way.

By playing hardball with entrepreneurs — slashing credit lines, imposing new and higher fees, jacking up rates and payments, closing accounts, and using other tactics — while hiding behind claims like “managing risk,” the banking industry has demonstrated that it is the arch nemesis of small business, lately, and certainly NOT a “supporter.”

Here’s a new slogan for the way the credit card industry at large has treated consumers and small businesses:

“When times get tough, we take all your cash, run you over, and leave you in a ditch, to die.”

The new card is called the “Ink” card.  But at ChangeInTerms.com (which is more concerned with making sure that no one ever forgets the one million or so cardholders who have been abused and disrespected by Chase), we would point out that it would be foolish to forget what Chase did to its existing customers: as “Truly, this is the single most abusive credit card change in terms that I have ever seen” (CNN clip, Joe Ridout of Consumer Action).  Me too, Joe.  Any notion of “fairness” has certainly been tossed out the window by virtue of this loathsome behavior.

NEVER FORGET.

Don’t fall for all the new ads that the credit card industry will be producing to gloss over the despicable lows to which it has been willing to sink in abusing consumers and small businesses.

Who appointed me a defender of small businesses against the abuses of credit card companies?  You did, Chase.  The banking industry did.

I didn’t use the artwork from the Business Wire press room page to further support your news release, Chase.  I did not want to help spread your announcement, because I don’t believe your products, or your people, are sincerely interested in “supporting small businesses” (I’m still waiting for you to correct me, by issuing the other press release that I’ve been demanding as mentioned above and numerous other times in my correspondence and on this site).

My Western Carolina University graduate students (Master of Entrepreneurship Program) have just created a new Website (WCUEntrepreneurs.com), culminating from hundreds of hours of interviews with “real” entrepreneurs (not actors, or the “pretty, pretty people” who are typically used in ad campaigns).  If anyone is interested, you can read about the stories of guts, glory, defeat, and victory, on their site (which I am proud to mention, here).

Chase, you shouldn’t have messed around with your “Valued Cardmembers,” consumers or small businesses:  It’s my job to protect present and aspiring entrepreneurs.  I consider your behavior toward both to be inexcusable, and a danger to the entire economy.  I would therefore highly recommend to your prospects that they should NOT adopt your new card.

Haven’t you heard that old saying, Chase, “You can’t polish a turd”?

Good luck with your marketing campaign, Chase: If the customer experience is anything like what we’ve been witnessing in astonishment and disgust lately, the “Ink” card will stink.

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