Confessions Of A Department Store Credit Card Upseller

J works at JC Penney and isn’t comfortable with what he describes as the company’s conniving ways of convincing customers to apply for awful credit cards they don’t need.

Disgruntled that he’s forced to foist the cards on unsuspecting shoppers, he writes:

I am a new employee at the store chain JC Penney and there is one thing there that makes me feels uneasy about going to work every day. At JC Penney, we sell credit cards to people who want to apply for one.

The problem I have with this is it goes against our mission. We are there to put the customer first and do what’s best for them. Yet we sell them something that gets them into huge trouble with a interest rate of 24%. What’s worse is that the customer may have up to four credit cards.

Yes, if someone can’t handle the responsibility of a credit card, that is not our problem. But don’t we convict drug dealers along with the users? The second problem I have with this is that it is a slap to the face to James Cash Penney, who stated that he didn’t want credit to be used in his stores because he understood that it got others into trouble. But as soon as he passed away, the use of credit popped up in stores and then eventually, the sale of credit cards. I feel like if JC Penney came back and saw the stores, he would not be happy. Just wanted to see what others thought.

The practice isn’t unique to JCPenney by any means, and is common at just about every department store chain.

We hadn’t heard that J. C. Penney was “anti-credit” before, so we took a look at Wikipedia. Seems like the store started taking credit cards in 1959, well before Mr. Penney’s death in 1971.

Wikipedia says that in 1984, the JCPenney company bought the First National Bank of Harrington, Delaware and renamed it JCPenney National Bank, they were then able to issue their own MasterCard and Visa cards.

The website for Kemmerer, WY says that the “Cash” in Mr. Penney’s name was a family name and not chosen to reflect a certain business style.

Even so, no normal human really likes the credit card upsell, so it’s probably pretty safe to assume he wouldn’t be thrilled.

Comments

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  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Any word if perhaps the use of credit was implemented after he stepped down as owner and CEO (or whatever position he held)? Because that would equate to the same statement she made.

    • cabjf says:

      He handed daily operations over in 1917, was chairman of the board until 1946, and an honorary chairman until his death in 1971. I highly doubt he was still actively involved in those kinds of decisions in the 1950′s.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Yeah, honorary chairman is a token position that just allows you to make a speech should you feel the notion to do so. But pretty much just for show.

    • 3skr1mad0r says:

      That’s usually the case. He and Sam Walton would both be appalled at what has become of their work. Sam Walton actually worked at Penny’s in ’41. I wonder if some of those ideals were garnered there.

  2. jason in boston says:

    I worked at Express back in the undergrad days. When I would be on the register, I would just say “Are you putting that on your Express Card?”…then the pitch. I was fairly good at getting people to sign up (4 or 5 a shift). At the time I didn’t feel bad. The more credit cards, the more hours + bonus at Christmas. Looking back, it was a crappy way to try to run a business.

    • babyruthless says:

      I worked at Victoria’s Secret (both owned by the same company) and we did the same thing. “Are you putting that on your Angel card today? What’s that? You don’t have one? Y’know, if you sign up today, you’ll get great offers for free panties and 50% off our most popular bras.” I always felt dirty doing it, though. Or at least half the time. I’m not anti-credit, and a portion of our shoppers paid their bills off in full each month (we could process payments at the register, and most people brought in their bill and I could see the amount). I didn’t sweat them. Entirely too many people paid minimums ($10 or $20) on a balance of hundreds or even a thousand or more dollars. I wanted to shake them and say “You’re paying 25% interest! On panties! Why do you have a thousand dollars worth of underwear!”

      • Mom says:

        But hey, they *were* getting free panties!!!!

      • jason in boston says:

        Express was bought out by a private equity company 3 years ago. Not under the same ownership anymore. You can’t use the “cross store” discounts :(

        • babyruthless says:

          Ah, I stopped working there when I graduated from college in 2006, so thankfully I no longer have to keep up with who owns what :D

    • FatLynn says:

      I got $1 for every card at a certain retailer that paid me $5.15/hr. If I could get one an hour, It was almost a 20% raise!

    • MsFab says:

      I used to do the same thing at Express Men. And we’d say “Oh it only takes 60 seconds!” It was amazing how easy it was, especially during back to school time.

    • jason in boston says:

      Although it was crappy, there were a pair of girls (sisters?) that were great with their cards and apparently loved the way that the women’s dress clothing for work fit. I would call it almost gaming the system, but I would also call it being efficient. They knew exactly how much to spend in order to get the maximum coupons in the mail. I don’t think they ever carried a balance.

  3. fs2k2isfun says:

    I used to work for a major electronics retailer. This was the biggest ethical thing I ran into on a regular basis. We had to pitch our store credit card to every customer making a major purchase. I worked at a store in a city location and we would often have people coming in to buy a $800 TV with $100 cash, $100 each on two credit cards, then open a new credit card with a credit limit of $500 which they would promptly max out. Sad really.

    Even worse is when they give you several cards, each of which is declined, then end up paying cash for whatever CD or small item they were buying.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      I had this happen all the time when I worked in retail, even worse when someone who you know comes through your line with a stack of cards and every one is declined.

  4. ElizabethD says:

    Big props to the new employee. She sees the upsell for what it is. I wish she could speak out publicly without getting canned, but we all know that can’t happen. Those interest rates are ridic.

  5. humphrmi says:

    Do you push credit cards on people who don’t ask for them? Or are you only working people who “want to apply for one”? Where does the line draw between doing what’s best for the customer, and doing what they want you to do? If given your druthers, would you refuse to sign someone up for a card, even if they asked, if they had “up to four credit cards”? If so, you’re probably in the wrong line of business.

    • babyruthless says:

      When I worked retail and did the CC upsell, we had to hear three “no’s” before we could stop the shill.

      • humphrmi says:

        See, and for that, I’m fine with calling that practice at the very least annoying, if not a bit predatory, and taking a stand against it. But the tone of the OP is a bit different – maybe it’s just the way I read it, but it seems like the OP is kinda saying “OMG I get people with UP TO FOUR CREDIT CARDS who obviously can’t afford another one, and I have to sign them up if they ask!”

  6. Holybalheadedchrist! says:

    I have been a JCP customer for years and recently was talked into one of their credit cards. I usually avoid store credit cards, but I thought since I shop there fr most of my clothes anyway, it made sense this time.

    After 6 months with an introductory rate of 16-18%, I simply can’t remember, I got a notice that my APR was changed to 27.99%. When I called to ask why, explaining I’d been a great customer and used the card, the guy at customer service said “they’re just doing that to everyone.”

    It sucked, but I had enough to pay off the balance, then closed the account. I would have stayed with JCP for years if they’d kept me at 18%, which is still a deal for them. The hard part is finding a store of similar quality in my small town. Honestly, this is what makes it hard to shop locally–when corporate values short-term gains over long-term customer loyalty. If I had to guess, I would say the decision effectively cost JCP about $8 to 10K over the next decade in lost revenue from my family of four.

    And JCP, if you’re paying any attention at all, ignoring my repeated requests for an explanation, or reevaluation of my situation, earned this post. Congrats. Craig, Grand Forks, ND.

    • jeepguy57 says:

      If you can’t pay the bill off at the end of the month, you shouldn’t be shopping there. The interest rate shouldn’t matter.

      • theblackdog says:

        This is the way to handle it.

        My Macy’s card is at 21.99% and I use it primarily to get the coupons and special sale deals, then I pay the balance off every month.

      • Holybalheadedchrist! says:

        I was more concerned about exposure to risk. I was, for the most part, paying it off each month. I think I only carried a balance two months of that time, when they pulled this, I was in that boat.

        On a side note, it also surprised me that they seemed angry when I canceled the card.

  7. craptastico says:

    i don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with pushing a store card. i opened a JCP card years ago to get $20 off a $50 purchase, paid it off and that was that. now i don’t think it’s worth the trouble and find it annoying when they ask, but i don’t think it’s unethical in the least.

    • jeepguy57 says:

      Agreed. You only get charged the 24% interest if you carry a balance. If someone is financially irresponsible, that is their own fault.

  8. dolemite says:

    I just opened up a Lowes Credit Card because we bought new appliances. Why? Well, no yearly fee, and no interest for 12 months. I did the same when we bought furniture from Grand. At 13.99% interest on my regular card, I save around $120-$190 if I pay it off in 12 months (over my Citibank card).

    I was a bit concerned over opening up another line of credit (we have 2 regular credit cards, a Grand Card, and now the Lowes), but I figured it wouldn’t hurt much. I just can’t see having a card for every single clothes store, shoe store or whatever.

    • Mom says:

      Right after I bought my house, I got a Lowes card because they had 10% off the first purchase. I bought $3000 worth of stuff that day, got my $300 discount, paid the card off when the bill came, then never used the card again.

      Back like 30 years ago, a lot of stores wouldn’t take Visa or MC. They would only take their own card. Now that they take Visa, I don’t see the point of having a store card.

      • Gulliver says:

        Because VISA wouldn’t give you that 10% off? You answer your own question right in your post. If I am Lowe’s they have your data, which allows them to communicate with their best customers directly, AND not have to pay the processing fees to Visa or Mastercard. As a merchant shouldn’t I have the opportunity to make the money that VISA, and MC are sucking off people?

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      yep, i got a home depot card to pay for the shingles to reshingle my roof. no interest if i pay it off in 6 months and a) it makes my credit utilization look fantastic since the limit is way higher than i put on the account and b) i’m a lot less worried about what happens if i have a major appliance emergency since my savings went to pay for the labor on the roof.
      i’ll be paying it off in the next couple of months and then it’ll just sit there for potential emergencies. i actually keep the card locked in my safe so i don’t take it to the store when i just need to get one small thing

      • jessjj347 says:

        Just be careful that your account doesn’t close. With a lot of those store cards, if the account is inactive for a certain period of time (e.g. a year), it will close.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          yeah, i know. i plan to bring it out every so often, make a purchase of something i need anyway and then pay it off. as long as i don’t have to pay the ridiculous 26.99% interest. they give cardholders 10% off trash bags and light bulbs so i figure that will be the easy way.

  9. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    I guess I really don’t see the ethical dilemma. When used properly, these types of cards can save a significant amount of money. Some of the incentives can be very appealing — 20% off a big shopping trip (back to school for the kids, new appliance, new TV, etc.) can save a lot of money and no interest is paid when the balance is immediately paid off.

    It’s the same thing for the 6 – 24 month 0% financing. I don’t like to keep any revolving balances but when it comes to big purchases, I’ll take a 0% offer whenever it comes up. I see no reason to move around finances to make a purchase when I can get 0% APR.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      I refuse to open a credit card for the purpose of getting discounts on items for the long-term as an incentive. For example, Kohl’s has frequent 20-30% off sales for Kohl’s card holders only.

      If you can’t sell me the item at the same price as the person next to me simply because they have your special card, then you don’t want my business. Instead I’ll shop where the price is the same for everyone at all times.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        Doesn’t just about every major retailer offer these kind of incentives at some point or another?

      • Kibit says:

        I agree.

        I find Kohl’s regular prices to be much more expensive than the regular prices at other stores. I find this to be true at JC Penney also.

        They mark it all up so much higher so people think they are getting a great deal when in reality it is not that great.
        For example, last year at Christmas they had xbox 360 video games for 20% I believe so I decided that I would buy one of the games on my husbands list from there. The reg price at Kohl’s was $70.00 and yet every place else it was originally $59.99. 20% off of $70 would make the game $56.00 only $3.99 cheaper than the regular price everywhere else. I had expected to pay 20% off of $59.99, but since that wasn’t the case I decided to wait and I am glad I did. I found it at Target for $45.00 about a week later.

        • Gulliver says:

          Interesting. Target does the same thing as Kohls for 105 off if you open a card with them. I find it funny that saving $3.99 was not worth it for you, but $11 was. I will offer a better deal to those that are my best shoppers (credit card holders). I will give better deals to hotel guests who stay more often. I will rewards customers who pay my bills and RETURN, while the one time person, I could give two shits about. You are not loyal to anything, and are not the kind of customer anybody wants. We call you a price whore. Of course you are the same people who bitch about lousy service. You want great service, cheap prices AND products that are warrantied for life. You can not have all three. It is not feasible.

        • Bohemian says:

          Penny’s and Kohls have been doing this scam for a few years now. I don’t buy anything at either store unless it is 50% off or more because that is usually the sane comparable price for what the item is worth. If you watch both stores routinely put items on around 50% off, they just rotate what items are on sale. So if I really want something at either store I only buy it the week it is on sale. Otherwise their items are the same or more than Macy’s for far lower quality items.

      • Marshmelly says:

        And that would be why I have a Kohl’s charge (which I pay off on time every month). Don’t see a problem with that.

      • TheWillow says:

        Shopping at Kohl’s is awesome because it doesn’t matter how cheap you think the item is, it’s probably less when they ring it up. :P There are magical discounts on everything.

    • TasteyCat says:

      Not only that, but they’re easier to get approved for, making them a good credit building tool. JCPenney was my first credit card. I now use it whenever I shop at JCP.com or CVS, and I pay it in full, so I really don’t care if the interest were 500% because I never pay anyway. Helps my overall portfolio because I don’t use more than a few percent of my credit limit at any given time, and it’s also my oldest card.

  10. crazydavythe1st says:

    Speaking as someone that formerly did the credit card upsell, I agree with some of her points. However, it is rather judgmental to assume that there is some negative aspect to a particular person having four or more credit cards.

    From a credit score perspective, you’re penalized for having too FEW accounts. You won’t derive any score gain from having excessive credit card accounts. Assuming utilization is low and the credit card applications are spaced far enough apart that you’re not getting dinged for having multiple hard pulls on your credit information, there is absolutely no notable effect on your credit for having multiple credit cards. I assume this is from the same line of thinking that my grandparents use when they are all shocked that I would pay for groceries. “OMG, that guy just bought CREDIT CARD!!! how DISGUSTING!”

    You have to look at it this way too – if someone applying for a JC Penney card has several credit cards already and they are approved for a JC Penney card, you have to assume their credit is at least decent. Someone who is having trouble paying off their cards would probably have several hits on their credit for late payment, and they would NOT be approved.

    On top of all that, JC Penney probably gives special discounts to their store credit card users. So, yeah – just because the OP isn’t comfortable with having multiple credit cards doesn’t mean that other people can’t and that some “moral” wrong is being committed.

    She doesn’t even describe the “conniving” ways she mentions. Is it conniving to just ask? or are you being asked to sign them up without their permission somehow?

    • crazydavythe1st says:

      wow. Groceries on the credit card. That was my intent.

    • StoicLion says:

      It’s all part of the moral navel gazing that comes from anonymity. Many online officials think they have the right to determine who has too many of these or too much of that and how they should spend their money.

  11. Liam Kinkaid says:

    “The problem I have with this is it goes against our mission. We are there to put the customer first and do what’s best for them. Yet we sell them something that gets them into huge trouble with a interest rate of 24%.”

    Sorry, but as a publicly traded company, JC Penney’s mission is to deliver value to the stockholders. They have a fiduciary responsibility to attain this goal. Increasing sales, thereby increasing revenue, is one of the best ways of enhancing shareholder profits. Store credit cards allow a secondary revenue stream (interest income) to supplement the primary revenue stream of retail sales. I hate to put it so bluntly, but there are probably a lot of other people that wouldn’t have an issue offering someone a credit card if you don’t want the job.

    • Kibit says:

      All stores boast about being in business to help customers. In their training they all wow the trainee’s with some miraculous customer service situation and talk about how they put their customers first above all things. Such BS!

      When I was 19 I worked at Home Depot and they were the exact same way, but if you tried to give that level of customer service you would get reprimanded for it. They also liked to tell a story about how a elderly gentlemen returned tires to the store because he was convinced that he had bought the there and they took them back and gave him a cash refund. This may have happened when the very first store opened, but even when I was 19 this was BS and was not happening anywhere.

      I think the OP has learned that the stores are not there to help the customer, but instead to make money off of them. It does kind of burst your happy little new employee bubble though. I know because it has happened to the best of us.

    • Minze says:

      I was going to post the same thing. The corporations responsibility is to the stockholders. It’s even reflected in the vision statement for the company:

      “JCPenney is executing a strategic Long Range Plan that consists of four integrated strategies aimed at building a deeper, more enduring relationship with our customers, increasing the engagement and retention of our Associates, and delivering industry leading financial performance to our shareholders.”

      It seems that getting people to sign up for credit cards helps a number of points of this vision statement. Build a long term relationship with the customer…check, increase the engagement of the associates….check, help with the financial performance of the company….check. 3 of 4 things accomplished with the credit card upsell.

  12. shlni says:

    This was the biggest reason why I didn’t get hired at GAP. I told them I flat out didn’t want to force customers to sign up for the credit cards.

  13. Downfall says:

    “The problem I have with this is it goes against our mission. We are there to put the customer first and do what’s best for them. “

    Excuse me? You don’t have a fiduciary relationship with your customers. You’re a retailer, not a lawyer. JC Penney is there to watch out for JC Penney; if promoting the best interests of their customers happens to be the best way to do so, then so be it. If not, well, so be it.

    In any event, you’re not necessarily better situated than the customer to determine if they’re better off with or without a credit card. I’ve shopped at JC Penney, although not recently, and it’s not even a hard close — you say no, and they ring you up.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      I’m sure it’s beneficial to all if the only relationship you have with a retailer is an adversarial one. That would go over real well….

      Some companies actually “get” that treating the customer well creates it’s own profits/success. Zappos, for one.

  14. Audiyoda28 says:

    When has anyone been in a JC Penney and been sold a credit card?? Customer Service personnel at each register offer it (along with a percentage off that purchase) but I’ve never been sold a credit card. I’ve never had anyone in JC Penney – and since they have decent prices and selection on big/tall mens wear I shop there frequently – sell me a credit card. I’ve been offered one and when I decline they simply continue to ring up my sale.

    People that accept the offer should know if they can handle the additional credit. Since when do we need anyone looking over the shoulder’s a business who is trying to make a profit?

    • Liam Kinkaid says:

      I think they’re more leaning toward “selling you on a credit card” rather than “selling you a credit card.” I’m sure they get kudos points or something for “selling” the cards to customers. So, it’s treated as a “sale,” even though you’re not paying anything for the card/account to be opened. At least that’s how I think it works.

      When I worked at Wal-Mart, we offered the co-branded Wal-Mart/Mastercard to customers and we had contests for who could “sell” the most. I never won, though. Pretty girls, for some reason, have an easier time convincing people to sign up for stuff.

  15. Flyersfan says:

    The last few times we’ve been in JCP I’ve heard multiple announcements on the PA system about how close they were to getting their quota on new credit card applications. One time we were there, they even had a contest going. Half the employees were the Red team and half were the Blue team. Whichever team had more people sign up got free pizza.

    The first time I heard the announcements, I decided right then and there to NEVER apply for a JCP card (not that I was going to anyway). I also wanted to find someone to tell them that the announcement completely turned me off and made me want to leave. I don’t know if it was supposed to motivate the employees to really push to get the last few applications they needed or make the customers feel sorry for them and apply out of pity. Either way, it was completely inappropriate.

    • babyruthless says:

      I worked at Victoria’s Secret and we pushed credit cards hard. They did various sales team incentives that I thought were maybe okay, if they’d kept them secret.

      For instance, we did a thing where the managers kicked a dollar in the kitty each time someone sold a credit card. At the end of the day, the person with the most sales got the whole kitty. I don’t necessarily have a problem with this.

      The kicker, though, was they made the person who had sold the last credit card wear the prize money, pinned to her blazer. I was wearing it (as the last person who had sold a credit card) and of course, a customer was like, “hey, why are you wearing cash?” I told her it was my birthday (that’s sometimes a thing here). She shrugged and said ok. Then a bit later, someone else had sold a card and I relinquished the money from my blazer. Same customer was like, “I thought it was your birthday. Why is she wearing the money now?”

      Awkward!

  16. commenterofsize says:

    JC Penney is a publicly-owned company. As such, your only mission and your fiduciary duty is to maximize the shareholders’ value. The company’s interests and the customers’ interest are usually closely aligned, but not always.

    You don’t work for the customers. You work for the shareholders.

    If you don’t like those priorities, you probably shouldn’t work for anyone’s shareholders.

    • richcreamerybutter says:

      “As such, your only mission and your fiduciary duty is to maximize the shareholders’ value.”

      If I’m correct, part of this mission includes creating an enticing environment to facilitate customers’ desire to spend money. When a store implements aggressive policies, I simply avoid them.

    • jason in boston says:

      Privately held companies also have shareholders. You don’t have to be public to sell shares.

  17. commenterofsize says:

    JC Penney is a publicly-owned company. As such, your only mission and your fiduciary duty is to maximize the shareholders’ value. The company’s interests and the customers’ interest are usually closely aligned, but not always.

    You don’t work for the customers. You work for the shareholders.

    If you don’t like those priorities, you probably shouldn’t work for anyone’s shareholders.

  18. Kibit says:

    I’ve worked at department stores and had to offer the store card to my customers. If they said yes, then that was cool. If they said no it was cool too. No big deal. I didn’t push. i understand not wanting to do it. I didn’t enjoy doing it either, but I knew that it was a part of my job and one of the things I was being paid to do. I was told about it when I interviewed, when I trained and while on the sales floor. If I didn’t accept it as a part of my job then I did not have to work there.

    I didn’t feel that it was my job to protect anyone from the interest rates either. Store cards are known to have high interest rates and all of the information is available and given to the customer. It is the customers decision whether they wanted to pay it off each month or keep a balance running, not mine.

    I also don’t understand why some people say that they were “talked in to” a store credit card. You are in control in this situation. It is up to you to say yes or no. It is up to you to fill out the application or give the cashier your information so they can fill it out and it is up to you to hand them your drivers license and another credit card. (some places ask for these and some do not)
    If you do not want something then do not get it. Just say no!

  19. Stiv says:

    I actually like having a JC Penney card. I get additional discounts online and during sales, and I’m pretty good about paying it off in full after I’ve use it…..

  20. c_c says:

    I am glad for this article, only because I now know JC Penny’s real name was James Cash Money Penny.

  21. Mcshonky says:

    now a days with the internet there is no reason to have a store card. the reason I say that is, you can sign up for their email blasts and don’t need to have a card to get advance notice of sales.

    that said, their unreasonably high interest rate regardless of the users actual credit worthiness should be a sign to run away fast and far from those offers.

  22. sopmodm14 says:

    its part of the retail word, just a polite “no thank you” will suffice

    they hate saying it was much as you hate hearing it , lol

  23. Raanne says:

    “But don’t we convict drug dealers along with the users” – when did credit cards become illegal? We convict drug dealers because they are doing something illegal, not because they are doing something that is bad for the end user.

    I worked at JC Penney for 5 years, and I signed enough people up for credit cards to qualify for a higher employee discount. I don’t feel guilty about it. I have a JC Penney account. I opened it when I bought my couch from there, I took advantage of the 0% interest, and then I stopped using it.

    At some point in time people need to take responsibility for their own actions. I had many people use their JC Penney cards, and then make a payment for the exact same amount right after since you can make payments at the register.

    My credit cards, with an excellent credit score, and paid off in full every single month, all went up to 20% last year with the passage of the credit card act. Did it bug me? Sure. Do I really care? No – because I don’t pay interest. The store cards aren’t that much worse than the normal cards now, and if they can’t afford it on one credit card, they can’t afford it on the other. And if they were going to pay it in cash, or by check, they are probably paying off their balance in full at the end of the month.

  24. Gulliver says:

    I would the OP has no business working in retail. Lets look over it one point at a time.

    1.”we sell credit cards to people who want to apply for one” – you mean you sell something that people WANT? What a horrible thing for a company to do. I wonder if a customer wants a TV and they WANT it, you would have some moral dilema that people watch too much television and should instead buy a book?

    2.” it goes against our mission.”. Would you care to fo into that further? Here is the ACTUAL mission statement (they call it a vision statement “JCPenney is executing a strategic Long Range Plan that consists of four integrated strategies aimed at building a deeper, more enduring relationship with our customers, increasing the engagement and retention of our Associates, and delivering industry leading financial performance to our shareholders.”- I would say credit cards delivers for making a more enduring customer (people with branded cards shop there more often), definitely helps shareholder value, and increases the engagement (as opposed to just ringing up the order). If they give you any bonuses based on signing people up, for most it would increase retention.
    3. ” we convict drug dealers along with the users” – Are you kidding me? Yo are selling a LEGAL product. Should we convict Apple for people who play their IPODS too loud and lose hearing? Should we “convict” the couch manufacturer for making a person a couch potato. I dont need some low level nobody to tell ME how to spend MY money. I also would say as a person who has used illegal drugs, the dealer was the the reason I did them. Nobody “pushed” them on me. I used them because i LIKE them. I will use credit any dame way I please, and it is none of your business little girl.
    4. “it is a slap to the face to James Cash Penney”- guess what, he’s been dead for almost 40 years. I guess the fact that Ford makes cars in other colors besides black isa “slap in the face to Henry Ford who famously aid, “you can have a car in any color as long as it is black”.
    5.” feel like if JC Penney came back and saw the stores, he would not be happy” – Since he made this a public company it is none of his god damn business what happens to it. Once he went public (and by the way took MONEY for it) he lost ownership of the company. If he owned it fine. I bet the computers they have, the plasma tvs they sell, the clothes for sale don’t mimic anything he saw when he started the company. If you want 1940′s stupidity, then YOU open your own store and see how far that gets ya.

    This is one of the lamest stories ever. The OP should be banned for life

  25. BradenR says:

    I had to put a freeze on all my credit cards with Equifax, etc when my cards were stolen. I found a positive side to that. If a salesperson tries to push a credit card, I let him/her waste their time. Guess what no credit card when they can’t check your credit.

  26. clarkins says:

    Worked for a Montgomery Wards while in college.
    They gave us a dollar, I think it was, for every credit app we turned in. I’d take a handful back to school, hand them out during class and get them back afterward and turn them in. Made a few bucks.
    The wife and I have one credit card that we’re paying off. I have some on the credit report I haven’t used in years.
    I’m with the people who say it’s your own (my) fault if I can’t handle a credit card and get in over my head. We did and we’ve dug ourselves out.

  27. sugarplum says:

    I have a couple of store cards for places I shop frequently. I get free shipping deals, coupons, upgraded customer service, special members-only sales, etc. Sometimes if you buy a big item (mattress) you get 6-months no interest to break up the payments. These cards aren’t all bad, it depends how you use them.

  28. Evey Wiechert says:

    I’ve worked at both Macy’s and Sears. When I was 16 and at Sears I had a lot of problems with the issue, and never offered the cards. Morally, I took the high ground and just never offered them. But then I went to college. I worked at Macy’s when I was 21 and offered the crap out of them. The store gave you a comp of at least $3 for every approved card you gave, cash in hand. Usually it was closer to $5, and sometimes it was even $20. Some days during the holidays I would walk out of work with an extra $50 or so. As a poor college student, I suppose I just lost my moral issues with it. I suppose I feel bad about it, but not really. I needed that cash, and I guess I figure someone else’s problem is their own, and plenty of people’s applications were denied for poor credit.

  29. caknuck says:

    I worked at Penney’s about 8 years ago, during what was a pretty miserable time for the company. The acquisition of Eckerd Drugs was turning out badly and retail sales went into the crapper after 9/11. The company’s credit card operations, however, were a cash cow.

    My store was given a daily quota of credit apps to process, and we were given an on-the spot $2 commission (plus $5 store credit when the push was big) for each approved application we processed at the register. If the store was short of the quota, they would give us coded updates via the store intercom, usually along the lines of “CA43″, meaning we had 43 approved card applications to date.

    Now, anytime you offer incentives like that, people will try to game the system. Some employees would submit applications without verifying any photo ID, usually from people with limited proficiency with English. Who knows what SSNs some of these folks were using.

    From time to time, the managers would pull cashiers away from the register to stand by the mall entrance to try to sell credit apps.

  30. brandymb says:

    Don’t see why any one would want a store credit card to the tune of 24%. All of them take Visa and MC which I have with a much lower rate.. unless I run across a 10%+ off todays purchase if I take a store card, and I promptly cancel it shortly thereafter..

  31. Johnny Longtorso says:

    I worked at Target one summer, and the cashier supervisors would periodically remind everyone to ask every customer if they wanted to apply for a Red Card (for which you get a 10% discount on your purchase). I would only bother to do it if the customer was buying a certain amount of goods, say at least $100. Who’s going to apply for a card if they’re going to save a couple of bucks?

    They also completely failed to give any incentive for cashiers to get people to sign up. I can remember two situations in which they tried to offer a prize: first was around July 4, when they raffled off a bucket full of red-white-and-blue crap from the $1 corner, and the second was when they did the same for a cheap $20 CD player. When I was told about the second one, I had to force myself not to roll my eyes in the supervisor’s face.

  32. ericfate says:

    I like having store branded credit cards. I usually get an absurd discount for signing up, a bunch of coupons to use for repeat visits, and the rest of the time they sit unused in a locked drawer until I eventually decide to close the account for lack of use or the chain of stores goes under. The interest rate is crap on every single one of them, but by raising them that high the only thing they have insured is that I will never, ever, be leaving a balance on my card for more than a single pay period.

  33. adamwade says:

    I have to say, out of the credit cards I do have – my JCP is my favorite. Yes the interest isn’t great, but you just need to pay it off every month and it’s not a problem. There are so many levels of rewards that are actual rewards – you can get some incredible discounts and coupons, and not just online either. Plus, many of the coupons are transferable – I give them to my mom all the time (only about 1/3 of them require you to use your JCP card).

    Wow, I sound like a plant LOL…really I’m not. And I generally don’t like Credit Cards. But if you shop JCP regularly you can get better than Wal-mart stuff at Wal-mart prices using the discounts. Between the rewards program (which you can join even if you don’t have a JCP card, though you get more points if you do) which really gives rewards – using double/triple points if I spend $100 in a month (a new pair of pants, a few shirts, some underwear) I get a $10 gift certificate to use the next month (with no minimum purchase).

    I hate upsells, but they are a fact of retail life. And out of all the stores that do it, JCP is the only one that actually has a decent program and as long as you aren’t a slave to interest, you can really come out on top regularly.

  34. Sardis says:

    Is it your responsibility as a sales clerk to uphold James Cash Penny’s vision?

  35. Vielle84 says:

    I have a JC Penny’s and a Belk’s card, and I’ve to say I love them because it allows me to get really nice clothes/undergarments for super cheap– I get TONS of coupons in the mail, extra discounts on my birthday, discounts for charging items to my card, and I only use them when I intend to pay off the balance in 1-2 months. I hit up the major sales 2-3 times a year; with coupons in hand, a credit card for an additional 10% off, and waiting for that suit I’ve been sharking all year to be 85% discounted, I make out pretty well. :D

  36. pahncrd says:

    Drugs are much less harmful than credit cards. Both require an experienced and well educated user to control properly, but doing drugs for a couple of years in your twenties won’t keep you from buying a home in your thirties.

    • caknuck says:

      Doing drugs a few years early in life may not prevent you from owning a home, but *abusing* them just might. Credit is exactly the same; it’s an issue of self control.

      Chemical dependency and financial dependency aren’t as different as one might think.

  37. MrsBug says:

    Has this gal been in ANY store recently? Every store I shop at, except the grocery store, does this. Target, every retail clothier, Best Buy.

    It’s just the nature of retail in this day.

  38. DennyCrane says:

    Bigger question – who shops at JC Penny in the first place? I’ve never found anything of theirs to be of any quality. I have a card that is far superior to all other cards and see no need to acquire any more plastic.

  39. u1itn0w2day says:

    The OP is probably not describing the pressure management may be putting on them to get customers to sign up for the credit cards. Most stores try to get you to sign up for their credit card now a days. I suspect you are supposed to do more than simply ask ie used car lot tactics?

  40. LibraryGeek says:

    Once upon a time I worked at a major department store that has since merged with another major department store. I *hated* doing credit card upsells, in particular the way associates were pressured into meeting a certain number of signups and the various competitions. I was scolded for not getting a lot of them because I would not push hard. I was *good* at selling the clothing, I didn’t feel I needed to also be good at selling that craptastic product.

    I witnessed associates doing things I consider extremely unethical to try to sign up more people. I saw customers who could barely speak English pressured into signing the English written contract for a card. From the conversations I witnessed, I did not feel confident that they understood anything beyond get money off now. That is the most egregious example. I know that we were encouraged by team leaders to try to put anyone through because we got the numbers even if the customer was denied. They would say that store credit is easier to get etc and push to run the application even if the customer said they doubted they could get a credit card. Doesn’t the act of applying and having the associate try to put it through affect the customer’s credit score? I saw associates hound customers and other lovely tactics. The store can claim deniability since those were not tactics encouraged by management. However, the environment they created and the fact they did not discourage these practices contributed to the ethical issues.
    I was never so relieved as when I was able to quit that job!

  41. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I don’t mind being asked if I want one; I know they’re only doing their job by asking but I hate the ones that make you say ‘No’ multiple times before giving up or worse asking why you don’t want one so they can try eliminate your reasons for not signing up. As if eliminating the reasons to avoid it means that I’ll suddenly want one.

    I was at a clothing store while I was out of town on a trip and the lady actually pouted when I said no.

    Look, I’m not signing up for a credit card because you want me to feel bad for not doing it. How is a guilt trip supposed to work anyway? I just spent money, I’m not going to feel bad for not doing more.

  42. mbz32190 says:

    The only store credit card I use is Kohl’s, because of they constantly mail me 20%-30% off coupons every few weeks. I buy stuff, and pay it off. Done. None of the other department stores really offer that much incentive besides a 10% off for a one-time purchase, or random coupons after you spend hundreds of dollars at that store. I had a Target card too, bought one item on it, got my 10% off, and closed it out about a year later. (Although now they have a free Debit-type card that gives you 5% off everything, without any fees).