Southwest Airlines, Chase reaching out to a new audience for credit cards: Toddlers
His mom, Frances Sayers, was none-too-happy to read a recent offer for Kemper for a Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit card from Chase.
"I was surprised and a little bit angry," she said. "Kemper's only two, after all. He has a piggy bank, not a credit history. But I'd already received similar offers myself since enrolling in Southwest's frequent-flier program, so it began to feel like less of a surprise and more of an inevitability."
Because they fly Southwest to visit Kemper's grandparents, Sayers thought it made sense for him to have his own frequent flyer number so he could earn a free flight. So, like his mother, his information transferred over to the folks who try to sell credit cards.
Chase acknowledged it was a mistake and one that wouldn't have led to Kemper actually getting any credit.
"At Chase, we issue credit cards only to adults. If a minor receives a mailing, it is certainly inadvertent," spokesman Paul Hartwick told WalletPop.com. "We receive prospect lists from various sources that provide us with names and address of individuals who may share common interests, such as travel, and we work hard to ensure those lists only include adults."
In this case, the filter didn't work. And Kemper was none too interested in getting his own card anyhow. But the toddler's hardly alone -- as WalletPop has since heard of several more young children also being wooed by the Southwest/Chase tandem.
Hartwick said consumers can always contact Chase to have their names -- or kids' names -- added to a do-not-solicit list, which Sayers said she has since done.
Sayers said that she also was told by Chase to contact Southwest to ensure that the airline knew they wanted to opt out of any mailings from companies they do business with. She did that, too.
A Southwest spokesman also said it was error of how the list was filtered.
"Obviously, both Southwest and Chase would not want to target a 2-year-old for a card," spokesman Brad Hawkins said in an email. "I think there has been an error in the preparation of the customer/member list provided for the mailing and the child's record wasn't suppressed before mailing. There are standard preparation and suppression processes that help to determine the audience for a mailing -- and mailing to children is definitely not intentional."
Sayers said it took a total of about 10 minutes to remove Kemper from the two lists, but she said she was a bit put off that she had to do it at all.
"I know it's idealistic, but I wish we could opt-in to the selling and sharing of information rather than have to opt-out once our information is already out there," she said. "I find myself becoming offended (and amazed) at how far my information can go."
Indeed, consumers have to pay attention to agreements they sign. It is routine for companies to share information with each other -- and it's typically done because the consumer agreed to it, whether they were aware of it or not.
Consumers can also opt-out of being sent pre-screened credit card offers by contacting the three major credit reporting agencies. The Federal Trade Commission has a handy page with all the key contact information to be dropped from those annoying solicitation lists.