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The Masked Tulip

Boston Legal

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I've just been watching the latest episode of the very funny but occasionally socially conscious TV series Boston Legal on UK Living.

The latest episode has a plot that is a VERY strong attack on the US credit card industry comparing it to a loan shark scam: that the 0% credit cards are just to lure people in and that if they miss a single payment the rates shoot up to 30%; highlighted one woman whose debt increased by 400%; claimed that the credit card industry had ‘bought’ both sides of Congress; that the industry calls those who pay off their bills each month as ‘dead-beats’ and how the industry deliberately targets people they know will not be able to pay off their credit card bills – they call these people ‘revolvers’ because they know they will keep coming back for more and more credit and never get out of debt.

The show went on to say that the US credit card industry is bigger than MacDonalds, bigger than K-Mart, bigger than Microsoft and that what is happening in the US now ‘smells’ of asbestos, smells of tobacco – i.e. a Class Action suit waiting to happen.

(I remember seeing a US TV news item last year in which Africa Americans were being charged higher interest rates for HP loans on cars by one car maker than white Americans – the car firm had to pay back the cash after a Class Action suit was brought against it.)

The show highlighted how if someone innocently enquires about HP for a car that the information is shared amongst all the credit companies and that the next time that person ask for credit they are automatically charged a higher interest rate.

Very interesting stuff indeed.

James Spader’s lawyer character just finished by saying goodbye to a lawyer for the credit card industry by smiling and saying “Maybe one day you will get horribly sick and die!”.

A brilliant, absolutely brilliant insight into the US credit card industry by one of America’s most watched TV drama come comedy shows – the combination of satire, wit and a sapier thrust at the greed of the credit card industry was spot on – is something that was sorely needed over there… and is sorely needed over here. Over here we probably would get a small item on the BBC Business News at 6.30 in the morning when most people are still in bed.

Fascinating to see how such a major TV show is prepared to highlight this! Well done to the Boston Legal team.

Btw, William Shatner is absolutely hilarious in this show - Denny Crane! ;)

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Interestingly, doing a quick Google on this, the show seems to have gained quite a bit of publicity in the US for taking this stance.

Interesting, one site seems to think they were targeting HSBC in particular:

A Tuesday night episode of Boston Legal exposed the credit card industry for what they really are. When any industry goes beyond what is reasonable and prudent in the interest of profit it is a travesty. Boston Legal put the industry on prime time for what they really are, but the show contained a quote we find interesting. “We are one of the largest law firms with offices in London and HongKong”

HSBC Bank PLC, the new owner of predatory lender Household International, has headquarters in London and HSBC stands for the Hongkong Shanghai Bank Corp. In addition, narrative about credit card companies ‘gnawing on the bones of Americans’ while pretending to be your friend also points directly at HSBC’s method of operation. A once-proud banking institution, HSBC publically stated plans to export the “Household Model” to other countries around the world. Let the gnawing begin in countries like Brazil and India.

Boston Legal Hits Credit Card Companies Hard

Quote from the episode: "The credit card industry is a pack of hyenas crunching on the bones of the poor."

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Here's an excerpt:

Alan, Melissa, Hands and Jerry are in the conference room at Crane, Poole and

Schmidt.

Melissa Hughes: You’re not giving me anything here?

Attorney Melvin Palmer: First of all, if I were to forgive your obligations, believe it or not? I’d be

hurting you.

Melissa Hughes: Hurting me?

Attorney Melvin Palmer: Okay, this is me. The way I raise my own kids. It’s not what you give

them. It’s how you teach them to get things for themselves.

Alan Shore: He moves in, slowly reaches his hand out and feels Jerry’s face. Jerry gives

him a questioning look. Just making sure you’re real.

Attorney Melvin Palmer: He chuckles. You know, I don’t know you yet Mr Shore but I get this

feeling I’m gonna like you.

Alan Shore: May I ask? You spoke of honoring obligations as if it’s a good thing?

Attorney Melvin Palmer: Indeed I did.

Alan Shore: Then why do you and other credit card companies refer to the customers who pay

off their debts promptly as, deadbeats?

Attorney Melvin Palmer: Well, that’s not a term I would personally use.

Alan Shore: No. Cause you’re swell. But your company uses the term like a mantra.

Attorney Melvin Palmer: Here’s the thing. Let me tell you a little about me and why I chose to

represent Prominence Bank. Like any other credit card service it’s a business, sure. But it is a

service. We help people who are short of cash. Help them make their rent so they don’t get

thrown out on the street. Help them make a car payment so they can get to work. Help them

buy Christmas presents for their children during tough times.

Alan Shore: You’re like Santa Claus.

Attorney Melvin Palmer: I can see you and I need to go out and shoot some ducks together.

Alan Shore: Do you explain all the credit terms to your customers?

Attorney Melvin Palmer: Well, they’re on the back of every application.

Jerry Espenson: He suddenly gets and places an application on the table. Like this? With

the tiny print? I have JD and an MBA from Harvard and even I can’t make heads nor tails of

this deception and fraud. It’s deception and fraud!

Nobody speaks for a moment. He slowly sits down.

Attorney Melvin Palmer: Well, look who found his tongue! And you Mr Shore. You’re a hoot.

That’s what.

Alan Shore: Is it true your company actually targets people with bad credit ratings?

Attorney Melvin Palmer: Well, we have an extremely complex marketing strategy, one that I’d

be happy to take some time and explain to you.

Alan Shore: That’s okay. I think I’ve got it. You find people in dire straits and market directly to

them with the hope of forming a lifelong relationship. I had a former client who kind of operated

his business the same way.

Attorney Melvin Palmer: Really? What line of work was he in?

Alan Shore: He sold heroin.

Attorney Melvin Palmer: Ha. My friend, I’m not a man who offends easily.

Alan Shore: So I could call you a loan shark and you’d be fine? When you charge your

customers thirty percent interest, you’re a loan shark.

Attorney Melvin Palmer: That term implies criminal conduct.

Alan Shore: It’s not criminal because your parasitic lobbyists have penetrated both aisles of

Congress. The credit card industry is more profitable that McDonalds, Microsoft and Walmart.

You’ve got yourself a multibillion dollar racket going, Mr Palmer.

Attorney Melvin Palmer: Given that we are bigger than Walmart or McDonalds or Microsoft we

enjoy some security. And potential lawsuits like this? We have an expression in Texas, Mr

Shore. You’re all hat, and no cattle.

Alan Shore: He chuckles. Here’s the thing about me. I am a hoot. But I insist on putting

adversary back into the system. And I do it openly and notoriously for all to hear. While a swell

guy like you doesn’t want the public to know that of the thousands of industries tracked by the

Better Business Bureau the credit card racket is number one in customer complaints. You

don’t want them to know that you deliberately target those who won’t be able to pay off their

debts. People you call, ‘Revolvers’. People who see ‘zero percent interest’ in big blue print and

don’t know that with just one late payment you skyrocket their interest to thirty percent. That if

they so much as inquire about leasing a car you raise their rates. You don’t want the public to

know that while over seven million families have filed for bankruptcy in the last five years you

got Congress to change the bankruptcy code to make it next to impossible for people to

discharge credit card debt. You don’t want people to know that the credit card industry is

essentially a pack of hyenas crunching on the bones of the poor. Do you? I smell something

awful. He leans in to smell Jerry’s body. I think it’s you. Yes, this case has the stench of big

tobacco and asbestos all over it. Luckily our firm has nine offices around the US, London and

Hong Kong, strategically positioned for massive class action suits. And once the company you

represent smells it too they’ll find you’re not nearly smart or powerful enough and they’ll drop

you for a firm that employs expertise and intimidation rather than down home hokum and

smiley handshakes. And this is my favorite part, when your firm fires your obsequiese ass for

losing their client… Oh my God! The stress! Your tan will fade, you’ll gain a few pounds, drink

a bit more, scream at the kids, and maybe your wife will finally leave you. For the realtor who

sells your house because after all he’ll still be able to afford Christmas in Aruba and next

year’s convertible. Hey, fella. Don’t worry about it. It’ll be a hoot.

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  • 301 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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