Hey look, a false banking advertisement!


So I made the mistake this evening of clicking on a link someone sent me to the Sydney Morning Herald website. Hey look, 0% interest on credit cards!

Credit cards are thicker than business cards

Under the heading of Compare and Save in the footer area of most articles on the SMH website, there's a heading encouraging us to check out 0% interest payments as a solution to our Christmas woes. There are so many things wrong with that, but I'll leave the other ethical and philosophical discussions to other fine weblog author folks ;).

Balance transfers
Recover from Christmas with credit – 0%!
Compare all Credit Cards

Upon clicking said link you're presented with a page at SMH Money that includes a series of credit cards based on their balance transfers. Sure enough, as advertised there is a credit card advertised by The World's Local Bank that carries a 0% balance transfer rate.

Damn these guys are good!

Well, it almost carries a 0% balance transfer rate. Turns out its only good for six months, which the initial advertisement didn't mention, not even with one of those dodgy asterisks followed by footer print that's barely readable or in a language non-financial folk can understand.

But it gets better! After that six month period, the interest skyrockets to a whopping 21.99%, which is higher than any of the other cards on the SMH site. Also higher than all but one of the cards is its general interest rate of 17%. Owies.

I wrote a long-winded post about Citibank's dodgy late night advertising on balance transfers back in 2008 (Misleading late night Citibank commercials). Suffice to say, I consider it a form of predatory lending. All that enticing, low rate, limited time balance transfer rates do is lock people into even higher rates of interest in the future.

If I could say it with a straight face…

… I'd say it's below the Sydney Morning Herald's standards of journalistic integrity to place such false advertising on their pages. Journalistic integrity, you know, that stuff they and their colleagues at other print publications are always accusing us online interweb folks of not having! I guess I'm not pretending to be a journalist with such ethics here, I'm just a developer who rambles on incessantly about things he thinks he knows or that he has an opinion on. Like how pouring custard on a grilled cheese sandwich is an interesting if thoroughly disgusting idea.

I haven't lived back in Australia to know the finer points of the law here regarding false and/or misleading advertising, and I suspect I've only pointed out one of a litany of examples you've all seen on a regular basis and got used to, but it still kinda pisses me off. Banks suck, and media companies that promote them are willing accessories to misleading the public.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person in bios. Hi!

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