EDITORIAL: You're Over Your Limit

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You don't need to wonder why the industry has a bad reputation with some people. Marketers get caught up too often in meeting their numbers and stop treating people like individuals. First up, a new list we featured in the Lists & Databases section a few weeks ago offering names of more than 2 million people, primarily low- to middle-income consumers who are newly married, recently divorced or widowed. These consumers are in their early to mid-30s, and they have several credit cards.

Sounds normal. Oh, yeah, they also have more than $20,000 in revolving debt. Just what they need -- another credit card offer with 18 percent interest to get them back onto that road to prosperity. It's sad that there are plenty of other lists out there just like this one. Funny that another new list we published recently was for executives with annual incomes of more than $100,000. But there are only 1 million names in that file. Seems that some people can get into debt more easily than those who have the means to get out.

Interestingly enough, someone showed me a credit card solicitation for a Quantum card from MBNA America Bank with a credit line up to $250,000. "In our experience that is often as much credit as most people need," the offer reads. "If it's not enough for you, we may be able to arrange other financing totaling up to $1 million." Forget Regis and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." You can get it all right here. Of course, you'll be in debt till the end of time. The minimum credit line for the Quantum card is an absurd amount, too: $15,000.

The card offers services not available to the regular Platinum and Gold card crowd, including a concierge number to get "reservations, hard-to-find tickets ... just name it, and we'll help you obtain it." Account manager Sara Shappee told me her staff mainly fields calls from travelers about cities they're visiting. Yes, they have some pull in getting dinner reservations. "What we do offer is a lot of persistence," she said. And they can help you get those must-have "Lion King" tickets or NASCAR seats, but it will be through a ticket broker, and you'll have to pay a hefty premium, up to 10 times the face value of the ticket, none of which goes to MBNA.

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