The other day I found this manila envelope containing printed advertising and a little slice of bubble wrap in my mailbox. .



It came from Capital One. You know, the ones with the cute "No Hassle Rewards" commercials on TV. Who doesn't like No Hassle ? I don't currently have a Capital One credit card, but I have always been positively inclined toward them.

I get these credit card offers all the time. I am sure those of you with decent credit do too. I usually destroy them without opening, unless I am considering getting a new, different, additional card. I don't apply for credit cards willy nilly which might well be the reason I still have good enough credit to insure that I will continue to be a good prospect for new credit card offers. Joy.

But I couldn't just toss this one. You could tell it contained bubble wrap, and so, they had been trying to cushion something of value inside. So I opened it and tried to determine what was so valuable that they would go to the trouble of protecting it from the rigors of modern transportation via the U.S. Post Office. There was, of course, nothing whatsoever of value inside. They mailed it in a oversize manila envelope, and included bubble wrap, to fool me. To make me wonder what was inside ? . . . To make me open it.

What seems obvious to me , is that these people who want me to entrust them with my financial transactions, are telling me right out of the gate that they are going to trick me into something. They are offering me the illusion of something of value. Can that be right ? Can American consumers be so dense that they fail to recognize the incongruity of that behavior ? That anyone who would lie to you on your first encounter, is probably not someone you would want in charge of your credit.


It is the basic incongruity with about half of the 100 pieces of spam I receive each day. Thankfully, that is down from a daily dirth of over 300 spams a day several years ago. Roughly 50% of the spams I receive contain a misleading subject line. - - - pretending to be a long lost friend, offering insight on recent news stories, or being mistakenly delivered to me by two Wall Street "insiders" privately discussing the latest "hot picks".

Are we really that dimwitted ? That we would overlook the fact that right off the bat, these people who want our business are engaging in dishonesty ? It is astounding to me that anyone would ever follow up on a proposal that is, on its' face, a lie. But I guess I have vastly overestimated the savvy of American consumers. Obviously, if none of that spam created new business, nobody would waste their time sending it. And even the big successful credit card companies don't appear to be worried about soiling their reputation by using blatant dishonesty.

And so, with some sadness, I must accept that dishonesty is no longer considered a detriment to effective advertising. Blatant lying is not an obstacle, but has become an accepted practice. Perhaps I should admire how cunningly they misled me into opening the envelope. Perhaps on audacity alone I should offer up the keys to my coffers.

Still, I was troubled. So I called them up to discover why they believed it would be OK to lie to me in order to get my business. After 10 minutes on hold I was able to talk with one of their representative in India, "Robert" told me, in somewhat broken English, that giving some third party in India my SS# and other sensitive information about my financial dealings would be perfectly safe. He could not however, offer any guidance as to why the dishonesty of the initial offering should not be regarded as a red light in our blossoming relationship.

So I have declined their fine offer. And resolved to never use a Capitol One credit card.

We see it every day. Even PBS and NPR engage in dishonesty at every fundraiser, enticing us with a false claim of "matching" funds but only if we contribute right now. Funds they obviously already have, that are being used to mislead us into believing that we can somehow "create" a bonus (bogus) donation.

I just can't help but wonder, is no one else put off by this pervasive dishonesty ?