You’ve heard of, and might even remember, those bank toaster offers. “Open a free checking account, and get a free toaster.” I have no idea why toasters were such iconic prizes, but they were, for many years. You’ll even see one now and again, but typically there’s a retro feel to them, even retro copy in the ad: “Look at us! We’re taking you back to the good old days!” You’d have thought that by now everyone who wanted one had a toaster or two around the house, but must be not.
Then there was this. I have no idea whether it was genuine, or a put on, but I found it amusing. The Armalite people offered — according to this post on thetruthaboutguns — a free toaster with every rifle.
A few years ago, when the banking mess was in the headlines and into our pocketbooks and — eventually — into our grandchildren’s tax rates, Rex Babin used the old bank come-on in a cartoon which was sharper and more prophetic than most of us knew. Those who did know — most of whom were and still are zillionaires — did not acknowledge, and to this day deny.
So, about the title of this mini-ramble. I noticed in today’s NYT an ad from Charles Schwab. He’s not exactly a bank, but then, who knows what the hell a “bank” is any more? The whole system has been corrupted to allow those who already have a shitpile of money to keep on collecting, while the rest of us, in our simply way, keep on donating. But I digress. Here’s the Schwab ad. See how technology and inflation have progressed.
You may have noticed that for the free toaster, Bank of the West asks you to sign up for a debit card with your checking account. No minimum balance. For that free smart phone, Schwab requires “a qualifying deposit of $75,000.” A serious piece of change for some of us, but with our new smart phones, we’ll really be able to talk to Chuck.