Saturday, November 06, 2004

Voting with dollars

So, just a few minutes ago, I did something I’d been wanting to do for a while: I cancelled an MBNA credit card. MBNA, in case you don’t know, is a ginormous credit card company whose employees make tons of political donations to those jerks in the White House. Don’t believe me? Check Open Secrets, a fantastic independent website that tracks corporate political contributions, among other things.

The contradiction here is that this was actually a Working Assets card, which meant that a small portion of my interest fees went to happy liberal causes. I’d love to know what the folks at Working Assets thought when their cards were bought by MBNA --- something that happens more and more as the finance industry continues to consolidate.

In the end, though, I was unhappy with the fact that the majority of my interest was going to pad MBNA’s pockets. Since I’d recently found a good card deal elsewhere, and since I’ve been irritated and frustrated about how to deal with the fallout from the election, I decided to cancel.

Needless to say, this confounded the first customer service rep who answered the phone --- a bit ironic, since MBNA does a lot of its inbound customer service here in Maine. The woman was bewildered by my rationale for dropping the card: “But we don’t have a political affiliation that I’m aware of,” she said.

"Actually, you do," I say. "Hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican campaigns."

"Ohhh," she says in a voice full of wonder. She encourages me to be sure to tell her “associate” why I’m dropping the account. “They’ll be very interested to know that,” she says.

So she transfers me to the heavy-handed guys in the department where they try to salvage your business. This guy is no nonsense. When I tell him why I’m cancelling the account --- “I don’t agree with your support of the Bush administration” --- he says, “Well, I can’t respond to that. Are you sure there’s no other reason?”

“I was very happy with your service,” I say. “It’s just your politics I have a problem with.”

He doesn’t even try to salvage the account. Tells me to destroy the card, and that if I want, I can reopen it within the next six months and get the same account number. Not bloody likely.

I’m under no illusions that my other credit card providers are saints, let alone liberals. But I know a few things about MBNA, and I acted on them. And small though that action is, it feels good.

[I wrote this entry last night but stupid Blogger wouldn't allow me to post it.]