Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Class War is Over. I Lost.

"Sam begged and pleaded, so I sent him to camp."

Ok, this just sounds bad: Sam, an alleged grown-up, "begged and pleaded" to be "sent" to Rock and Roll Band Camp. Because he really really wanted to, and his Mommy-errr, wife-- controls the household budget.

Except-- does she? "We accumulated so many Thank You Points on our Citi Card..." Ugh, really? How do we go about accumulating "points?" Why, by spending money using the credit card, of course. So these people have spend SO MUCH FREAKING MONEY that they've accumulated enough "Thank You" points (as in, "Thank You for having Zero Willpower and Attempting to Single-Handedly Keep the American Economy from Crashing by Using your Credit Card to buy Everything Your Pathetic, Materialistic Little Hearts Desire" to transport Sam from one Fantasy- the one he lives in every day with his Mother/Spouse, in which using a credit card in place of cash is a GOOD idea- to another Fantasy, in which Sam is a Rock and Roll Band Member.

We can SO relate with these people, can't we?

It seems increasingly clear that advertisers view the United States as a nation consisting of two distinct classes of people. The first group is made up of desperate, paycheck-to-paycheck working stiffs who use CashStop, Payday Loans, Rapid Refunds, and other Just Trying To Get To Next Week "services." If these people ever manage to score in the lottery, or find themselves legatees in some relative's estate, there are Annuity Brokers out there to exchange a small amount of money RIGHT NOW for the large amount of dough they could expect to have parceled out to them over a number of years. They "line jump" at Cici's and take the family to Golden Corral for baby-back ribs and seafood "for around ten bucks."

The second group is made up of blissfully wealthy hedge fund managers and their families. These people live in suburban palaces and give each other ribbon-clad Lexuses for Christmas. They have 72-inch High Definition televisions in every room and sixteen internet-connected devices and spend most of their time watching violent movies and "gaming." Oh, and they take vacations and go to Fantasy Camps and buy fancy dresses and Shea Stadium seats with their "thank you" points. Oh, and for some mysterious reason, they feed their kids Kraft Mac 'n Cheese.

I don't belong to either of these groups (though my paycheck makes me more likely to hit Denny's than Ruth's Chris,) which I guess means that I'm not recognized as being an Actual American worth pandering to by the Advertising World. I suppose I should feel grateful, but that would not be like me at all. Instead, I feel like a stranger in a strange land. Without even the comfort of Thank You Points.

Thanks for Nothing, Citi.


  1. I've been waiting for this one. From that opening guitar twang, I can't get the mute button mashed quickly enough. The goofy look on the face of this jackanape says it all -- "My money has done it again". "My life is a deserving wonderland."

    That had to be a lot of spending, to get those kind of points, eh? It was either this or a weather balloon.

    Yes - he's a camper. He is role playing, like some wealthy scavenger hunt from the 1920's. He's the little boy off to rough it in the mansion of the stars, whoever they are. What's missing in this would-be rock-and-roll king's retinue is any talent at all. He's a nobody -- a zero. Isn't it amusing how this fellow can't play his instrument "s'like that"? I think they should tattoo him up and down; Make the fantasy complete.

    It's quite true that Citibank has interest, apparently, only in people who can rack up enough Thank You points to buy either a frivolous fantasy camp stint, seats from Shea Stadium, or a freaking weather balloon. I don't see any ads for "Larry, who decided to spend his points on a $50 gift certificate to Bed, Bath, and Beyond", but that is what most of us will get.

    The ad is really more about money itself. You know, you can earn money and spend it on just about anything. I'd like to earn enough to be able to spend enough to be able to earn enough points to have these Citi commercials erased from memory. I'm sure Citi's target customers could, ironically, afford it easily.

  2. Exactly- what really ticks me off about all these ads is that if you can spend enough on your damn credit card to accumulate this many points, is there any doubt that you could just use that fricking card to BUY this crap WITHOUT the points? Citi, don't sell me on the idea that without your "Thank You" points, the Fantasy Camp would be "out of reach"- clearly, NOTHING is out of reach for these spendthrift jackasses. And another good point- this guy has no idea which side of the guitar is Up- what the hell is he doing going to Rock and Roll fantasy camp? Well, obviously- for us proles, GUITAR LESSONS might be a decent investment. But if you are one of the Beautiful People, you skip the lessons and go right to Fantasy Camp. When it's over, he'll have a lot of great photos, great memories- and no idea how to play a musical instrument, but who cares? There's money to be spent!

  3. The rich have it so tough -- aside from the minor inconveniences, the unwashed, lazy masses are sick of them making out at our expense. Although you'd never know it by watching the mainstream media

  4. I actually just got one of these cards. Mine looks exactly like the card on the commercial except it is "Thank you Preferred" as opposed to the "Thank you premier". Not sure what the difference is. I logged onto the points website and searched all over for this rock and roll camp but it does not exist. There is a section called "Travel and Experiences" but all that consists of is plane tickets and cruises. It doesnt seem like I will earn points any faster on this card than any other in my wallet. Honestly all I can get at this point is that Bed, Bath and Beyond gift card...

    Now onto the commercial. My most hated part outside of the nazi wife narrator is the part where he high fives the other nerds who back in high school would get picked on by the "camp director"

  5. Off the top of my head, I can't remember what kind of credit card is in my wallet. But I can tell you that we've used it enough to get something with the reward points.

    A one-year subscription to a magazine. I chose Reader's Digest. Yeah. You can see I'm living the high life now, can't you?

    Sometimes, I read the month's issue all the way through and sometimes I skim through it and mark the pages I want to come back to later.

    Jealous, aren't you?

  6. Pahz, I think I had the opportunity to redeem mine for a pen and notebook set. I didn't bother.

    The bad thing about a one-year subscription to "Reader's Digest" is, by the end of that one year you are basically obligated to renew it, because once you've had a year of "World's Dumbest Criminals," "Why we hate lawyers," and "Amazing Tales of Strength and Faith," how could you possibly ever give it up?

  7. I quit cold-turkey.

    It was rough. And the "10 things your random professional never tells you"... don't forget that.

  8. I use my credit card for car repairs and plane tickets, period. If I don't have the cash to buy something, it doesn't go in the cart. I eat cereal for dinner several nights a week, and walk everywhere to save gas money. I don't want to work forever, and it's kind of hard to build a nest egg when you are forever paying down credit cards, regardless of what some of these commercials tell you about "helping you save."

  9. You think that's bad, try paying off a dead man's credit card debt; I had to do that because my father didn't think that he needed to pay the damned thing off before he died. As a result, I have no interest in getting one of the blasted things.

  10. Dreaded....

    You dont have a credit card? That seems crazy to me. What happens if your car breaks down and its a $2,000 transmission replacement? What if your hot water heater blows? Pipe bursts? You need to have at least one card in case something like this happens. It also helps you control your credit score. I am planning on buying an apartment closer to work and friends. I am using my credit cards to improve my credit score by a few points. That may not sound like a lot but on a $500,000 loan in can mean a difference of thousands of dollars. Without my cards I would have no way to directly control my credit score.

  11. Twice in your post, you mention your "credit score." The ONLY thing that your credit score tells people is that you have borrowed before, and to what extent you were able to reliably pay back your debt. Now, if you want to borrow half a million dollars and you tell your bank that you've never used credit cards, but because you've never been in debt you have a LOT of money saved, my guess is that the bank finds that pretty impressive, too.

    Increasing your debt in order to show people you are a good risk- in the long run, that just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. My guess is that Dreaded simply PREPARES for emergencies by SAVING MONEY. I know, it's a very old-fashioned idea, and it will do nothing to "improve the credit score," but it's amazing how low the interest rate is when you have no debt.

  12. Actually, you mention "credit score" THREE times. I think you have been taken in by the stupid commercials which suggest that it's the be all and end all of the economy.

  13. Your credit score is a huge part of how lenders detirmine your interest rate. For example...

    If the best interest rate is offered to people with a credit score above 700 and mine is say 698, those 2 points could cost me thousands of dollars. According to FICO the interest rate difference between those two scores is about 1/3 of a percentage point. On a $170,000 30 year fixed rate mortgage that 1/3 of a point will cost me about $12,000. This is just an example because all lenders have different breaking points. Some are 700, others are 690.

    Using credit to increase my score is a very convoluted process. Each of the three major credit bureaus have different criteria to increase your score. TransUnion likes you to use your card just a little bit and pay it all off as quickly as possible but Experian likes you to have a higher balance and pay it off over time. Usually I dont care what my score is but this is one time where it makes a huge difference. With a little work I can save myself a lot of money. If I didnt have a few cards to deal with I would really cost myself in the long run.