I checked my email this morning hoping to get some Hurricane Sandy updates from friends and family. Questions I was asking: Are you still without power? Are the subways in New York still flooded? Have you already exhausted your Nacho Cheese Doritos supply?
Yet instead, my inbox was filled with messages from different "friends" of mine. My banks. Citibank, Barclays, American Express and others all decided to send hurricane themed messages.
Great, thanks for reminding me you care, and yes I know I have an outstanding balance of $1,129. Wait, thats funny, your email doesn't remind me that you charge 28.4% interest on my debt.
You are available 24 hours for me to get a cash advance? Interesting that you left out the fact that your cash advance "service" fees are outrageous.
Is it a textbook use case for marketers to use natural disasters as an excuse to spam customers? Did this rub anyone else the wrong way? I wonder how many people with flooded basements, destroyed roofs or life-preserving ventilators running on backup generators feel about your email.
Maybe I am totally wrong. Perhaps somewhere, someone read your message and thought "Gee Whiz Citibank, you sure are swell for emailing me, I'm gonna go open another credit card right now and cash advance my whole savings!"
Note to to other banks/companies, if you are going to do this at least take Barclays as an example. Unlike the others which either didn't offer anything or used cryptic bank-speak, Barclays clearly and unambiguously laid out their special terms during this time period: waiving all late fees, cash advance fees and card replacement fees during that time.