Counter-Marketing Campus Credit Card Pushers

PIRG volunteers are manning booths in campuses nationwide designed to look like fictional “FEESA” credit card stand, BusinessWeek reports, except passing out lollipops that say “don’t be a sucker” and informational brochures about the dangers of credit card abuse. A worthy counter-marketing campaign, though someone should give them some more money so they can give out free tshirts too, and at least match their opponents’ irresistible offerings.

Countering Credit-Card Pushers [BusinessWeek]
(Photo: Tamara Dib/Daily Californian)


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  1. humphrmi says:

    I don’t think they’re giving out lollipops because they need more money. I think it’s because it’s a pun… lollipop? sucker? get it? And if they handed out t-shirts that said “don’t be a t-shirt”, I think that the message might get lost. (tap) (tap) (tap) Is this thing on? Oooh, tough crowd.

    Seriously, good to see grass-roots efforts to counter overpowering corporate sludge. I was about to ask how one might contribute to this effort, but I see that it’s sponsored by US-PIRG, certainly no funds issue there. Good job, US-PIRG!

  2. Ben Popken says:

    I’m sure they could come up with an additional slogan for the tshirt.

  3. SaveMeJeebus says:

    “It was either this shirt or the free burrito”

  4. Shadowman615 says:

    “Don’t lose your shirt?”

  5. olegna says:

    In college I was a member of a group that collected all CC application boxes (usually pinned to Student Union bulletin boards and the like), collected them, defaced them (watered them down, so they wrinkled and were rendering useless), then deposited a huge pile of these application on the steps of the university rector’s office with a letter asking him why our public university has a liberal policy allowing marketers but was chasing off members of the community from pamphleteering without a permit (which was hard to get unless you were representing Citibank, Coca Cola, the US Army, or a brand of automobile).

    We also set up tables (using our group’s legitimate student group status) around these credit card tables instructing students to fill out the forms with fake info to get the T-shirts to give to a local clothes bank.

  6. rmz says:

    @Shadowman615: I’ve got it! The PIRG should host a wet T-shirt contest with a cash prize. The shirts would say “I signed up for a high-interest credit card, and now I’m all wet” or something similar.

  7. ShadowArmor says:

    I’m always torn on this issue. I realize that a lot of students have absolutely no idea how credit and CCs work. Many of them are lured in with lines like “its easy to pay off with a great job”. Most of them don’t realize how quickly a balance can compound when one only pays the minimum payment — especially if they pay late.

    But at the same time, do they really believe that it is free money? Don’t they understand that if they continually use the card to buy things they can’t really afford that somewhere along the line they will be in deep trouble?

    The key word in the story is “abuse” — like any tool, if you don’t use it properly, it will hurt you.

  8. mandarin says:

    So they’re handing out lollipops? Dont they know the obesity problems in this country?

  9. @olegna: I didn’t know there were groups for this but I used to do the same thing. I’d go to the building where my English class was held early and go into all of the empty classrooms and removed the credit card crap. (I was still pissed at Discover for sending me an unsolicited card.)

    I never saw the credit card pamphlets in the science buildings now that I think of it.

  10. jdotto02 says:

    I’m sorry but I can’t understand how so many people don’t know how credit cards work and how to be responsible with them. I’m currently a college student and did sign up for a MasterCard from one of the stands setup at my college. I know how much money I have and won’t spend more then that amount on my credit card, which I use for almost every purchase I make. I also pay off my balance every month because the only interest I like is what I get paid from the bank for my savings accounts. How to responsible use a credit card seems like common sense to me, so not all college students are irresponsible with credit.

  11. My name’s JDOTTO02, and I’m the smartest person alive, blah blah blah.

    To assume all college kids should be like you is to assume that everyone is a jerk-face. Not everyone can be educated as much as we’d like (just like not everyone will stop downloading Britney’s new song on iTunes), although – as Thomas Jefferson said – it’s a good goal to have.

    The point is, these college students are educating their co-students on the dangers of using a credit card, and I’m all for it. In the marketplace of ideas, everyone has a fair shot for air time.

    I wish someone would’ve been there with a lollipop when I went to school, because no one as smart as JDOT or whatever sat down with me and said, “Listen, son, don’t be a horse’s ass with this card. You’ll have to pay it off someday, and a 21% interest rate feels like brushing your teeth with a windshield scraper.”

  12. jdotto02 says:

    @davelawrence8: I realize that most college students aren’t like me and I’ve seen people I know become overloaded with debt. Most of what I learned about credit cards I’ve taught myself through research I did on the internet. I’m also for educating students on the possible dangers of using credit cards, but how credit cards work is already taught in high school math (ex. 300 x 1.21 = 363).

  13. humphrmi says:

    @jdotto02: No, I’m not going to call you a jerk-face :). But I don’t believe that teaching kids “300 x 1.21 = 363” teaches them how credit cards work. They believe that the low payments actually go somewhere, while also being affordable within their budgets. What they don’t understand is:

    A) When you max it out, you can’t use it anymore
    B) Getting a second or third card only makes it worse
    C) Paying the minimum payments is like paying nothing

    and don’t forget the most important one:

    D) Debt is bad, and you always have to pay it back anyway

    It’s good that you taught yourself this stuff through research and the internet. Really it is. But I think you overestimate the average college student’s capacity (or even interest) in learning about responsible credit management. Given the apathy of most college students, getting in their faces like these tables and so forth can only be good.

  14. elisa says:

    GO BEARS!!!

    umm…is it bad that I recognized the street in the pic right away, even before seeing the Daily Californian photo credit? that’s on Bancroft at Telegraph, right in front of Ned’s. And I graduated a while ago ;D

    I did get a credit card thru those stands…key word is one, and I still have it, haven’t abused it.

  15. anatak says:

    @humphrmi: Spot on. The majority of college students are living on their own and managing their money for the first time. Responsibility typically doens’t run high on college campuses.

  16. olegna says:

    >> How to responsible use a credit card seems like common sense to me <<

    Well since the average American (or household, not sure) has about $8,500 in unsecured debt. . .. I guess common sense ain’t so common.

    Instead of making this moot point every time this issue comes up, you should be offering suggestions on how to solve the social phenomenon (that is distinctly American, by the way) instead of talking about how every should be as responsible as you are.

    Drugs are illegal, right? Why do we have anti-drug laws if the solution to the nation’s problem with drug abuse is simply that everyone should be “responsible” and not do drugs?

    What I’m suggesting is actually a solution to the social problem of irresponsible use of credit: namely, college students shouldn’t get $8000 credit limits with applications that aren’t verified AT ALL to confirm if the income stated is actually the income that applicant earns. They should get $200 credit limits and build up from there.

    That’s call REGULATIONS to curb IRRESPONSIBLE behavior. Telling everyone to “act responsibly” is not working, so why mention it a gah-zillion times on this website?? (except, of course, to boast about one’s own responsible behavior.)

    PS: I don’t owe any money to anyone.