Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Capital One Goon Squad: Who's Outside YOUR Door?

Git yr guns!  Capital One has decided they can send in the shock troops.

Let's face it, everybody loves banks.  

This is because banks are fun.  Like, they have fun names.  

For example, Citibank, or sometimes, just plain Citi.  I have a credit card from them, and that's what it says on it: "Citi."  

This bank was once known as The City Bank of New York, and even The National City Bank of New York.  They have been relentlessly abbreviating the name for the past 30 years.  Soon it will be just "Ci," or "Ct," or even "c."

That's kind of fun because it reminds you of how the Russians used to truncate the names of everything back when they were communists under Josef Stalin.  Or how Big Brother used to do the same thing in the novel 1984.  

I like it most of all because I grew up in the citi.

Banks are also fun because of the way they zing you and sting you with little $1 and $2 fees.  And sometimes $25 fees, for that matter.  

If you're like me, you enjoy this because it's a little like getting bitten by a small brown spider or a red ant.  It's not actually life-threatening, and it hurts just enough where you go, "Ooooh.  I felt that."  I like sensations.  You might even call me a "sensation-seeker."  And pain is a sensation. 

What else about banks?  

Well, they have fun words for things.  For example, I just opened an account at something called SunTrust Bank.  And in the 20-page agreement I signed, they often refer to those little biting, stinging fees we just talked about as "fees and other services." 

This is the first time I've ever heard of fees being described as services.  Who, exactly, is being served?

Also, they refer to bank customers as "consumers."  What am I consuming at a bank?  Fees? 
That's a nice logo.  The soft blue is very reassuring.  And the red thing is kind of shaped like a boomerang, a weapon which ancient cultures used to kill large animals. 

The Capital One Goon Squad.  Who's Outside Your Door?

With all of this fun happening at the banks, earlier this month Capital One Bank decided to up the entertainment ante.  

In the most recent agreement they sent out to consumers of their credit card services, they included some eye-opening rights that they, the bank, retain for themselves.

A few of these are really exciting, especially for history buffs, because they bring that whole Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, fascist goon squad thing right into the present tense.  

For example, the agreement includes this little gem: "We may contact you in any manner we choose," and such contacts may include "personal visits" at your home or place of employment.

Now, who are they going to choose to have personal visits with?  Consumers who have accounts in good standing?  Probably not, although that might be nice if some people from the credit card came over for tea.  

No, I'm guessing that they'll choose to visit consumers who owe them money.  And I'm guessing that these won't necessarily be pleasant visits.

They also, when making calls or visits, have the right to "identify ourselves in any manner we choose."

This brings the fun to the highest level.  Do you remember many years ago, on the original Saturday Night Live, they had a character called the "Land Shark?"  And how the Land Shark would come to someone's home and ring the doorbell?

"Who is it?" the person would say.

"Pizza man," came the voice from outside the door.  


"Uh, telegram."

"I'm sorry," the person would say.  "Who?"

"Uh, candy gram."

Can anyone resist a candy gram?  So the person would open the door and instantly get eaten by the shark.  I imagine these were the type of visits Capital One had in mind.   

Now, in the past 24 hours, Capital One's self-appointed rights have received a ton of publicity, and criticism, and Capital One is backpedaling from them as fast as humanly possible.  

Indeed, they are running backwards at full speed, banging the backs of their collective heads off parking meters as they go.  

And when large corporations do this, they tend to say fun things.  Like this from a Quaalude-dependent, vacant-eyed Capital One spokesmodel:

"The agreement was recently sent to a group of consumers as part of the ongoing HSBC integration.  We are reviewing the language because we do not want to create any unnecessary insecurity and we apologize for the confusion."

There's meaning buried in there, and what it means is, "Okay, you caught us.  We'll change the wording.  For now."

Here in Florida, this retreat on Capital One's part is seen as something of a disappointment.  

You see, we have a law here called "Stand Your Ground," which has recently been interpreted to mean that if anyone bothers you, or looks at you funny, or plays music too loud, or comes to your house for any reason, you can shoot them.  

Personally, I was eager to see how well Capital One's visitation rights and Florida's Stand Your Ground rights would work together.  Or not, as the case may be. 

Q. Wait a minute.  Are you trying to say that you wanted to see if any Capital One goons would get shot by irate Florida consumers?

A. Yes.


  1. Maybe Capital One has ties to Jehova's Witnesses and is looking for new ways to keep missionaries knocking.

  2. Maybe Capital One debt collectors will identify themselves as Jehova's Witnesses. Nah, nobody would answer the door.