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.