Saturday, August 18, 2007

New Credit Cards - the Upsell

I recently got a few new credit cards in order to increase my credit limit before I apply for educational loans in the spring. I did my research, raised my credit score by becoming an authorized user on my parents' cards and applied for specially selected cards. I was approved for all three, making my combined credit limit something above $12,000. I felt good about myself, very responsible, and don't plan on changing my spending patterns to match my new credit limit. I've never carried a balance or paid a bill late and don't plan on doing it now.

When I received my cards, I proceeded to call the 1-800 numbers on the sticker to activate my cards. With the first card, I read all the enclosures, then made the call and was connected to a call center in India. The man who answered the phone was very difficult to understand, so when he tried to upsell me on credit protection, I had to ask him to repeat himself. Finally understanding, I said no, I was only interested in activating my card. When he tried his second upsell, I cut him off, and reiterated that I only wanted to activate my card and was not interested in anything else. He got upset and hung up.

The second card connected me to a person who was much easier to understand, but who was also wily about the upsell. She would phrase everything in statements, making it harder to say no. "So I'll just go ahead and sign you up for travel insurance." "No, really, I would prefer not." At least this time, she didn't get upset when I told her no.

The third card had an automated system. I finally thought I would be able to activate the account and hang up. Not so. The recording then proceeded into scary statistics about identity theft and how much it could cost me without their service, ending in a command to press one to enroll or press two otherwise. Pressing 2, it launched into the same spiel about identity theft and tried to sell me the same service again. I listened and pressed 2 again before hanging up.

I wonder how effective credit card companies find this upsell. It just had the ability to annoy me, but really, since when do credit cards not only give you credit, but try to be the first thing you spend your newfound credit on?

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