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It Sure Looks Like A Credit Card Offer, But It Sure Isn't

It sure looks like a credit card pre-approval letter for a new "Platinum" credit card with a $10,000 limit for union workers. But it turns out to be nothing of the sort.

Union Workers Credit Services is sending out letters to households at random, union or not, seeking persons to send in $37 as a "Platinum Card" membership fee for what they think is a credit card, but instead only receive a merchandise catalog and a credit line that can only be used for merchandise in the catalog that is often greatly overpriced compared to retail store prices. The information certainly looks like a normal credit card pre-approval letter, but then you notice that the federally mandated information about costs of the card are missing from the letter and a $37 membership fee is asked for upfront before you receive more details about the offer. $37 is a big price to pay for a small merchandise catalog. But that's all that your $37 buys. But the company claims that it will credit that amount to your first purchase but nearly every item has prices inflated far beyond any $37 from normal retail store prices.

It is typical of both scams and unscrupulous credit card businesses to seek upfront fees. In some cases, some businesses do not even issue any credit card themselves but only search for a card for persons who pay them a fee, something that can be easily done by the individual themselves. But the Union Workers Credit Services is merely an unethical and misleading letter meant to lure customers to a company selling mail order merchandise. Instead of a straight-forward representation of their true nature of business, the letter appears as a credit card preapproval letter that only upon closer examination of some questionable wording tips off the reader that it is a good company to avoid at all costs.

Union Workers Credit Services claims that it offers a low 5% interest rate. However with merchandise selling for absurdly high prices, there is certainly no savings to individuals even if the interest rate is low. And a $10,000 credit line for some persons of lower income status only means years of financial bondage in many cases.

It is very disappointing that the Bush Administration has been so lax going after some companies that take advantage of consumers, let alone the numerous Email scammers. The letter from Union Workers Credit Services is a real good letter to ignore. It is not a real credit card offer for a credit card usable anywhere. Any business can buy some merchandise wholesale and sell the merchandise for full list price and offer a credit line to customers. This is a business with an unethical and misleading way of marketing it's overpriced goods to customers. Avoid this company.


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Comments (4)

Doubting Thomas:

Had stuff like this back in the Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations too, Paul.

Though the ethical and moral nature of it is certainly dubious, it is legal. So - how can the President stop it, no matter what his party affiliation?

I like the way you tied Bush into it, though, tacitly blaming him for the mere existance of these moral jackasses. Damn Bush for not stopping this legal activity!

Ray H.:

I was thinking the same think Doubting Thomas. Unethical yes, but if you look at their website, they outline a lot of this pretty clearly. The only thing I couldn't really tell was how much they were selling their products for. On the website, it is actually a $95 membership fee, but it clearly states you can't use the card at ATMs or other business and can only use it for purchases of their "high quality merchandise". It's unfortunate that we have idiots that both do this and that fall for these things, but it's a legitimate business, people should use their minds and elect not to buy this product.

Ray and Thomas, the letter the company sends out is far less clearly stated than some of the information on the website. However, should an individual have to do a major investigation on the Internet, with the BBB, and other consumer sources before they respond to what appears to be a normal credit card preapproval letter?

The fact of the matter is that the Bush Administration has cut way back on consumer protections through a series of bad appointments such as Nancy Nord who used to be a spokesperson for one of the nation's worst corporate polluters as acting head of CPSC. In fact despite a public concern over unsafe toys, just one toy inspector actually exists at the CPSC.

It will unfortunately be up to state government Attorney Generals to piecemeal go after companies such as Union Workers Credit Services if they cross some state line in deceptive advertising which varies state by state. But at the federal level, consumers can expect little federal help from a consumer-weakened CPSC thanks to Bush.

Doubting Thomas:

Ah, yes. Once again it's Bush's fault because stuff that was legal under Carter, Reagan, Bush the Elder, and Clinton WASN'T immediately made illegal to protect the poor idiots who blithly believe EVERYTHING they get in the mail.

Like my father.

My father is 89. He's on so many sucker lists it's pathetic - and every so often he sends a small check off to something that's too good to be true. I always tell him he's going to lose his money, but he finds a lot of the crap that comes in the mail entertaining.

And the scam artists know that virtually none of the people they rip off will report them to the police, which rather ties law enforcement's hands, doesn't it?

There's a variety of reasons not to report - embarrasment, primarily, that they were gullible enough to be ripped off like this. If the crime isn't reported - it can't be prosecuted.

So. You think this is a ripoff? So do I. BUT - it's LEGAL. It was legal 30 years back. The scammers read the law also, you know, and they're going to push things to the limit. My father might spend too much for overpriced garbage - but they usually make sure he GETS the stuff. He's actually gotten refunds a few times when he made a stink about something he didn't get. So they're as honest as they have to be to stay within the law, but not one bit more. Does this outfit provide the product they say they're going to? If so, then there's little recourse.

Are there scammers and grifters out there? There certainly are. And there's laws against them, which can be used if the victim reports. But if it's LEGAL, it's a case of 'buyer beware'. I doubt seriously anyone's being forced to get this overpriced crap, and I'm also sure that if anyone gets it the stuff will be exactly as described.

Still, that was a good try to blame Bush for this. Consumer education should start at an early age, specifically with the old adage "You don't get something for nothing". But if that was taught in the schools and the kids really took it to heart, our politicians would be SO screwed in a few decades...


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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