Thursday, November 10, 2005

Papa John's: Misleading Students and Increasing Student Debt

Papa John's is passing out this flyer on campus today proclaiming that students could get a free pizza if they are one of the first 200 students to come in between 12pm-5pm today or on Friday, however, the flyer is nothing more than an insulting reminder that "nothing is really free".

It turns out that this flyer is nothing more than a cheap ploy to get students to sign up for a Chase credit card, which is never stated on the flyer or by any of the people who are handing the flyers out on campus. Upon discovering this, I and all the other students in line with me, promptly left in the store in anger. However, when I walked near Papa John's again a little while later, I was surprised to find students actually lined up filing out credit card applications for a pizza that would only cost them around $10.

Unfortunately, this type of shameless tactic is not uncommon on college campuses. Aside from the nearly 10 credit card offers that I get in the mail, credit card companies during several points throughout the year, have had booths and people passing out flyers hawking all sorts of supposedly "free" items to college students in exchange for filling out a credit card application.

If a student isn't smart enough to figure out that a "free" $10 pizza isn't worth the cost that the credit card will likely bring to them, do you think these students signing up for credit cards right now at Papa John's will be able to use these cards responsibly? I don't think so either.

The fact is that very few college students actually need a credit card and the ones that do will have no problem finding a card on their own.

The recent bankruptcy bill that was signed into law over the summer has made some progress in preventing credit card companies from giving cards to anyone with a pulse, but more needs to be done, especially with regards to the targeting of college students by credit card companies.

1) The University needs to take a more prominent role and stand up for students in protecting them from the credit card companies. They should refrain from giving away students information to credit card companies (which it seems that they clearly do, because I get tons of credit card offers that ID me as a Marquette student as well as cards that are clearly partnered with the University). In addition, the University needs to take a more active role in educating students about credit cards and it should do what it can to limit access by credit card companies to our campus.

2) We need a law that bans credit card companies from giving away "free" items to anyone who applies for a card. Rewards programs that occur after one signs up for a credit card, like frequent flyer miles, are fine and should stay, but giving away "free" stuff to anyone who simply applies for a card encourages people to sign up for cards that they simply don't need and seems to be targeted toward students and the poor.

Finally, I want to remind students why credit card companies are willing to give you all of this "free" stuff. When credit card companies look at students, they don't see a person, they simply see you as $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Why? Because credit card companies only make money off people that do not pay their balances in full every month! (students are known for doing this) They are giving you free stuff to get you into more debt! The more debt, the more money they make off the high interest rates. It is that simple!

Any business on or off campus that encourages students increasing their debt doesn't deserve the business of students.

(I'll let you make fun of the grammar errors and the odd formatting of the Papa John's flyer)