if you ever meet this guy, you better keep your eye on your hand…..

 

should you be ever introduced to richard d. fairbank, the ceo of capital one financial, you would at first blush be impressed.  he is charming, urbane and sophisticated.  he is a graduate of stanford university and he even got a mba at stanford university.

 

he gets the “hey abbott award” for this week because he really is just about the most sneaky financial wizard in this country.

 

richie peddles capital one credit cards from his, we think, traveling snake oil wagon.

 

he very cleverly makes the consumer think that a credit card from capital is somehow better than the rest.  well, it is better than the rest in ripping off folks who are not as sharp as richie is.

 

in addition to the interest that he charges you on your outstanding balance, richie prays that you will either go over your limit or be late in making a payment. 

 

if you go over your credit limit, you get socked with a $29 or more charge.  if you are late making the payment, you get another $29 charge.  that means richie makes more money on you screwing up than he does on the usual interest charges and fees that he gets from you.

 

richie knows that he could stop the over the limit charges by not letting you go over the limit.  but, he is not going to do that because he has you hooked just as a drug dealer has an addict hooked.  just as a pimp has a prostitute hooked.

 

as for the late charges, that was a ritchie idea from hell.  in these times, what with a struggling economy and a postal service that stinks, richie knew quite well that this late fee business was going to be a winner.

 

people like richard d. fairbank are not just a result of what is wrong with the morality of american corporate leaders, people like richie are the cause.

 

and so, if you do meet richie at a dinner party and he extends his hand to you, be sure to count all your fingers when you get your hand back.