Magazine article Marketing

Begging the Moral Question

Magazine article Marketing

Begging the Moral Question

Article excerpt

Begging the moral question

When the word usury reappears in newspaper editorials, you realise times have changed. Last week's announcement by Barclays that it is to charge Barclaycard users an annual 8 [pounds] fee prompted such an extraordinary fit of sanctimonious outrage from some that it is worth putting the issue in perspective because, for many, the real point has been missed.

First, that fee. A free Barclaycard is not a God-given right that the bank is now abusing, as some seem to imply. It is simply a product or service much like any other: if you don't like it, or it is too expensive, don't buy it.

No, the import of Barclays' announcement lies more in what it may bring to an end: the provision of free credit that underwrote the spending boom of the 80s. Barclaycard's initial selling pitch was 56 days free credit. Those who didn't pay promptly, were charged extortionate (one might even say usurious) fees which subsidised the enormous backroom cost of the whole operation. …

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