Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Mysterious, Sad World of GreenDot



I get what Green Dot cards are- they are a way for people whose credit rating is in the toilet so they can't get a standard VISA card from a standard bank to carry money around using plastic anyway.  They are for people whose finances are such a mess- or so meagre- that they can't go down to the nearest bank and open a basic savings or checking account and get a debit card.  They are for people who lack identification or the most rudimentary knowledge of how banks work.  They are for the people who live on the margins of the economy, and they for sure don't include this screeching nutcase making blood money by singing of the joys of using buggy, unpredictable plastic cards to electronically store cash in between trips to the Dollar Tree.

But I really hate the fact that these cards are being promoted as a PREFERABLE ALTERNATIVE to those "big banks" which are probably not an option to the target audience.  This woman sings about the joy of avoiding "bank fees"- but Green Dot cards come with fees that are actually higher than some credit cards, and MUCH higher that Debit Cards (because Debit Cards typically come with NO fees.)  Read the fine print and check how much you'll pay for the "convenience" of having your paycheck direct-deposited on to one of these things if you don't believe me.

She suggests that using big banks is a royal pain, but when you have a dispute over a purchase or an account balance, which would you rather deal with- an automated phone bank featuring an endless loop of recorded "options" followed (if you're lucky) by a conversation with someone who barely speaks or understands English and who is sitting in an Indian boiler room, or that awful big bank down the street which has actual people you can discuss your problems with face to face?  Seems like a pretty obvious choice to me.

And what I hate most of all is that these things are just another element in the sub-economy that includes Dollar Stores, Rent A Center and CashStop "services."  Just another industry aimed at the most vulnerable, being sold as some wonderful innovation that "spares" it's audience the "hassle" of conveniences and protections the rest of us enjoy.  Really disturbing, and very sad.

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