Wal-Mart announced today that it’s dropped its bid to open its own line of banks. Citing “manufactured controversy” the retail monolith’s spokespeople denied attempts to impose yet another facet of control over a nation which is already arguably far too Wallified for its own good, instead all but blaming the Librul Medya for their problems.
Ever notice how, when skullduggery and unethical behavor get exposed, it’s somehow the fault of those who shine a light into the nest of cockroaches? Well, Wal-Mart won’t be opening a bank, at least not this year, and it’s pouting as only an underrepresented, powerless, helpless and dirt-poor US megacorporation can.
I’m going to wax elitist in the next graf, so be warned. Feel free to skip ahead if you want.
Considering the caliber of clientele Wal-Mart usually draws, one has to wonder what the hell the company thought it would accomplish. We’re talking people who have trouble with simple one-variable algebra, for non-god’s sake, whose account balances are always three figures if you include the stuff to the right of the decimal, whose checks are generally not merely rubber but actually Flubber. And Wal-Mart thought it could make a viable financial gain from this kind of customer base?
Sneering arrogance aside, though, you have to admit the idea is damned clever. Think about it. All they’d have to do is issue any accountholder a purchase card that links to their bank balance, and can be used at any Wal-Mart checkstand just like a debit card — with, possibly, an option to automatically issue credit overage at an industry-standard APR for predatory lenders, say a nice even 25%. That bulk box of Ding-Dongs doesn’t seem like such a bargain any more, does it?
And, of course, Wal-Mart wouldn’t stop at merely being a savings/checking/moneylender — it would also control mortgages and more.
Wal-Mart can offer future services including mortgages, consumer loans, home equity loans, investment and insurance products and any other type of service or product that the company might develop.
Imagine that. Not only do you shop there, you bank there, you pay them your mortgage and you work there. This transcends creepy and actually becomes a lot more like a truck system — the nineteenth-century habit that some employers had of requiring employees to live in company housing and buy all their goods from the company store. (It’s still going on today, as it happens.)
And you know — you just know — that millions of people would happily queue up for their indenture to Sam Walton’s dreadful legacy.
The danger hasn’t passed, though; Home Depot — another massive chain whose stores resemble aircraft hangars more than retail outlets — is getting ready to acquire an industrial loan business.
I guess what that means is your next Wal-Mart store will be financed by Home Depot.
Am I the only one made intensely uncomfortable at that idea?
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