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Archive for the ‘CRAM’ Category

Today, while trying to resurrect our paper shredder after I once again fed it too many credit card applications, I recalled a lonely period of passive resistance I engaged in against the credit card industry a few years ago.  I’m convinced all my resistance movement needed to succeed was a way to enlist members, to compile the numbers of members that would make the politicians and companies set up and take notice.

At the time, I didn’t know what a blog was, I don’t know if the word or maybe even the idea existed at that time.  Now that it has, I have the ability to communicate with the masses, preach to the choir, engage the legions, or at least the ten or so people (mostly family) that regularly read my blog.

So, with this post, I officially declare the Credit Card Resistance Movement (CRAM) resurrected.  By reading this far into this post, you are an official member, and are duly sworn to carry out CRAM’s mission at whatever cost.  Guilty by association, that’s what I say.

By this time, you may have begun to wonder exactly what CRAM is, and if you can be arrested for it.  Good question, I’ll get back to you on that.

Did I mention that CRAM was a passive resistance movement?  I did.  That may have been a mistake; I’ll get back to you on the violence too.

The Premise

Each day, almost every American adult, and some juveniles, receive credit card applications in the mail.  It doesn’t matter if you are rich, poor, homeless or in the middle of a bankruptcy procedure, if you have an address, you get these applications.  Most say something to the effect that you have been pre-approved for the best card ever, with the best rate ever, so on and so forth.

So, the next reasonable question to ask is what happens to all those applications?  What percentage of the applications actually get sent back in, how many are approved by the predatory credit card companies, and how many just go in the trash?

Since Fairbanks is notorious for the venerable old tradition of dumpster diving, most of which takes place at the borough’s waste transfer sites, many people are scared to toss their applications without destroying them first by shredding or tearing them up.   Perhaps they burn them, ensuring the very envelopes that litter our kitchen tables, counters, and mailboxes also end up in our air.

Personally, my wife and I are hit and miss destroying the applications we get, sometimes as many as 4 a day.  I don’t worry about the divers too much.  If they want to dig through my trash and pull out a credit card application, somewhere around the poopy diaper, under the cat litter and embedded in the moldy tomato sauce, I figure they earned it.  And good luck with that application.

The Solution

So, after destroying application upon application, each one promising eternal financial comfort and security, I asked what would happen if everyone, and I mean everyone, returned his or her applications.  Blank.  Or shredded.

And so I started returning our applications, usually writing, “No thank you, please recycle.” I would open each application, take out the postage paid envelope, fold the old envelope and all the application paperwork together, write “No thank you.” and “Please recycle.” on the application, and then CRAM them back into the prepaid envelope.

Sometimes I would shred the application first, or tear it up violently.  (I promised you violence, what did you expect?)

Did it slow the inflow of applications?  No.

Did it affect my credit score?  I have no idea.

Did it make me feel better?  You bet.

The Proposal

Given the quantity of credit card applications and the manner in which they target people in a predatory manner, I would like to solicit help in returning applications.  Imagine if every time you received a credit card application, you simply opened it, CRAMmed everything into the postage paid return envelope, and dropped it back into the mailbox.

You could preprint return slips to add to each returning envelope.  My new ones are going to say “No thank you.  Since we don’t have paper recycling in Fairbanks, Alaska, I thought I would return this to you so that you could see that it is properly recycled, as all proper corporate citizens do.”

Imagine what could happen if everybody started CRAMming:
•    Millions of postage paid envelopes being added to the mail stream.
•    I’m not sure how companies are charged for prepaid envelopes, but the influx of a large quantity of these would certainly show up at the accounting offices at the post office or at the corporation.  Wouldn’t they?
•    Someone at that hated company, you know, the one you make a payment to every month, has to open that application to find it was returned shredded.  And the company pays for their time.  And to dispose of the application.  And they probably have to take the time to clean the paper shreds off of their desk, the floor and maybe even out of their coffee.

I know, this seems trivial and inconsequential, but only when I’m the only one doing it.

If everybody did, maybe we’d get less of these applications, we could save a few trees, and keep millions from feeling the false hope of “you have been pre-approved for a $100,000 credit limit for 0% apr for life (of a fruit fly held at an undisclosed location).”

And no, I’ve never been arrested.  Not for this anyways.

Join the resistance, and CRAM.

(Please enlist your friends, families, and even enemies.)

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