Why the Mall Makes Me Sick

- - Credit Cards

why the mall makes me sick

The Mall is Bad for Broke People

I went to the mall the other day to buy another pair of jeans since mine are getting awfully close to the end of their life.

Walking around the mall, I watched people spend the money they could be saving for their kid’s college fund, or a better home, and it was kind of making me nauseous. It’s hard to enjoy people-watching at these places anymore now that I’m aware of what’s really going on.

Throughout the mall, I watched clever marketing scam people into spending boatloads of money that they probably don’t have. My imagination is now very vivid and equally as depressing at these moments. I’d like to think these people are all rich and can properly afford everything, but I know that’s not the case.

Heck, I even got scammed by peer pressure.

The jeans I was purchasing were Buy One, Get One 50% off. I only needed one pair, and got in line with that one pair.

But to everyone that got rung up, the cashier said, “Oh hunny, you have to get another, the next pair is 50% off! You can’t beat it!” I watched a few people do this, and told myself I was smarter than this trick.

The person I was with came up to me and said “you only have one pair? But they’re 50% off the next one. Come on, we have to find you another pair.”

I hesitated, and thought, whatever! They’re jeans, it’s not like I won’t wear them.

And so, I gave in.

It’s not the end of the world, I like the jeans and they were comfortable…but I didn’t need the other pair.

Store Credit Cards are Evil

Next, we stopped into Victoria’s Secret for a few minutes after my jean fiasco.

While standing near the checkout counter, I had an experience that made me cringe, and I almost got sick.

A woman got in line to checkout, and when the next cashier was available she stepped up to pay for the items she was purchasing. The cashier scanned the items, and then asked if she would be paying with her Victoria’s Secret charge card.

The customer replied that she didn’t have one.

I then proceeded to watch this woman get swayed into applying for a store credit card so she could save 20% on her bill today. She was hesitant, but the cashier was eager to close the sale and eventually won her over.

After filling out the application, the woman behind the register pushed some buttons, put on this fake, huge grin and promptly said “Congrats! You’ve been approved!”

Her bill was only $30.

I wanted to throw up. In a really depressing, low pitched voice, said out loud, “No…..” Like I was watching a train-wreck in slow motion.

The customer started laughing, with a hint of nervousness in her voice, turns to her friends and joked “I just got a Victoria’s Secret credit card!”

The one friend replied, “Haha! Now you can buy my broke a** some panties!”

After hearing tons of horror stories over the last year of people in exorbitant amounts of debt, I couldn’t help but see this customers future flash before my eyes. “I’m in $30k of credit card debt, and it all started because I had a Victoria’s Secret store card.”

Why the Dislike?

Retail credit cards do the exact opposite of trying to help you get out of debt. They send you boatloads of “coupons” that seem so good you just have to go take advantage of the deals while they last.

“Are you a store cardholder? Great! Come in now for an extra 10% off your purchase!”

Why do the stores give away such “great” deals to their cardholders? Because they make MILLIONS off of them. At 20-30% interest each month, as long as they get you to carry over a balance, even just for one month, they are making more money than you “saved” on your last purchase.

Store credit card companies often approve people with much lower credit scores for store cards than for typical bank cards. “Banks promise retailers a certain approval rate (perhaps people with a score of 550 or higher), which then requires the bank to approve customers they’d normally consider risky. 

Because of this, these credit cards often end up in the hands of people with poor credit – you know, like the ones who can’t pay their bills as it is and have a low credit score because of it.

Many people think that they are the ones making out “like bandits” with these savings. Most of the time, this isn’t the case.

As the saying goes, “rich people make interest, poor people pay it.”

I hope that I’m dead wrong about this one, but it’s hard to believe it.

And this all started because this customer wanted to save $6 on her $30 purchase.

No more mall for me.

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I am Chenell Tull and so far, I've had a pretty rough time with my student loan debt. Recently, I've figured out a more productive "get out of debt" plan and the goal is to pay off over $60k in just 36 months. If you want to learn more, subscribe to the mailing list and get FREE updates on my successes and failures on this journey out of debt. 

  • DebtDiscipline

    Store credit cards are the worst. Sure that 20-30% saving up front might be great, but with those high interest rates carrying a balance for just one month and you’ve give it back.

    • Exactly, and unfortunately people don’t realize that without taking a deep look at their statements.

    • I’ve never carried a balance ever so I’m good. The interest could be 40% for all I care because my cards are always paid in full. 🙂

      • Haha same here, but most people aren’t like that. Plus, if plans go south it’s nice not to have a huge interest rate, regardless of who you are. 🙂

  • Jim

    I’ve always wondered why store employees pushed sales like that, I doubt their compensation is based on store sales? Maybe they just have to do that to appear like they’re “selling” more?

    The credit card thing is absurd but at least I understand, the cashier is probably getting a bounty per sign up they get. The customer… well, no hope there for now. 🙂

    • I’m not sure about them pushing the sales either, but with this lady’s enthusiasm I’m guessing there was some kind of an incentive.

      As for the credit cards, who’s to blame: the customer for not doing more research, or the store for their one-sided narrative on reasons to sign up? 🙂

      • Jim

        Oh it’s always the customer, the store clerk is doing his/her job. Everyone is responsible for themselves here. 🙂

  • Merrin Curley

    I just bought jeans too (my old ones had holes) – they were on sale but I bought them online, I find it much easier to put back all the extras. and no sales pressure. I think the only thing store cards are good for is to start building your credit score if you don’t have one, but it has to be strategic not spur of the moment at the counter. Don’t blame the retail staff – they have ridiculous targets to get people to sign up, so they have to try and up-sell, sign up everyone they can to keep their jobs. I too hate the mall, but people have to take responsibility for themselves and their own money (we aren’t their mothers).

    • I don’t hate the retail staff by any means; I know the crazy targets many companies put on their employees, but that doesn’t make it right to deceive people. Who is to blame for the credit crisis is probably the million dollar question- there are plenty of reasons to back either side of the argument.

  • I HATE going to the mall. Shopping shouldn’t be a recreational activity! Sadly, I know a lot of people that just go to the mall for fun.

    Usually I hate the thought of store credit cards, but I did recently get myself a Target one. My wife and I shop there a lot but I think the 5% savings is worth it. We’re pretty frugal, stick to a budget, have no debt, and stick to our savings goals so I don’t think having a Target card causes us to spend more than we would if we didn’t have a card.

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