While purchasing a new pair of pants at Macy’s, I stood next to a few teenagers, one of whom was buying a couple of t-shirts and a pair of shorts. The salesperson asked if he wanted to open a Macy’s card. He asked if it was free and she said yes. In fact, she followed up by saying he would save about 15% on the day’s purchase and that she just needed his ID and some basic information. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Get 15% off your purchase for free?
Too Good To Be True
Of course, the kid didn’t have all the information. He only had a part of truth, the part the salesperson gave him that would help her close the deal. It was too painful to watch, so I quickly sprung into action, helping this clueless kid avoid unknowingly make a mistake. I clarified with the saleswoman that they’d need to run his credit, and she smiled and agreed. He almost signed up for a credit card without realizing it. It seemed that he thought he was going to sign up for a store discount card, similar to ones offered at supermarkets that give rewards without having to give up anything (besides your buying habits).
He asked me if it was a bad idea to do it, and while I didn’t want to get into a whole discussion about credit and teach him everything, I very briefly explained that there are some good uses for credit, but this likely wasn’t one of them. I let him know that there are some great signup bonuses out there that may be worth hundreds of dollars, but saving 15% on a small purchase (in this case, maybe $9) probably wasn’t worth it.
We Need More Consumer Advocates
I’m not sure if it was my place to prevent the store from opening another credit card from one of their customers, but I like to be a consumer advocate and this kid clearly had no idea what he was doing and the salesperson did nothing to help clarify what was happening. I didn’t push the issue and walked away once I said my piece, but it was nice to hear, as I was walking away, that he was just going to pay for the items and pass on the offer at this time. I cracked a bit of smile when I heard that.
This teenager was lucky that I gave him some advice and not to waste his credit on a very small discount. Others are not as lucky, and the stores clearly aren’t doing enough to educate their customers (in this case, the salesperson only gave the customer part of the full picture). It’s up to us to educate each other so we make the best financial decisions for ourselves instead of doing whatever is presented to us by the stores where we shop.