Help me to understand…

Today my mail brought a promotion from the Bank of Pacific — “Time to choose Your Favorite!” it said, the choices being “a $5.00 downloadable treat” from Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com or Google Play.  Really?  A whole five dollars for “using your Bank of the Pacific Debit Card?”  And there were instructions about how to enter my reward code yada yada yada.

So I called the number and asked a simple question of the gentleman who answered the phone: “Why?”  He had no idea.  But he was prepared to help me get my reward, you betcha.  “No thank you,” said I.  So I called the BoP’s Customer Service and repeated my question.  The answer involved something about my usage (presumably high) of my debit card.

“If anything, I’ve used it less than usual,” I pointed out.  “Well, let’s see… What is your date of birth?” And after a bit she came back and  said, “Well, I really don’t see that your usage is…”  I explained that my “Why” question was really “Why is the bank doing this?”  And I went on to ask, “Isn’t the purpose of the bank to keep my assets secure?  And are the funds you are using to purchase and give away these gift cards actually the money the bank generates from your depositors?  Like me?”

“Well… ” she began… And I cut her a little slack.  “I know that you don’t make these decisions and I really don’t want to talk to the people who do.  Not unless they would consider giving incentives in another way — like increasing the interest rate on my savings account.  I really don’t need them directing my “buying habits.”

The call ended on a fairly positive note.  I think.  The nice young woman gave me a chance to vent and maybe — just maybe– she’ll mention my call to someone who will listen.  I told her my name twice, just in case anyone wanted to set me straight.  (Or increase my interest payments.)

The whole thing is right up there with my mystification years ago that the BoP took their staff on an overnight Christmas shopping spree to Portland.  Right in the dead of winter.  When all of us merchants were struggling to get folks to “BuyLocal.”

Go figure.  I’m not using my gift certificates, thank you.  It just doesn’t sit right, somehow.  And, come to think of it, none of those gift cards are “BuyLocal” either.

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