How one high street building society very kindly offered its loyal customers £20, with just one single, simple caveat...
"Like most people, I never bother to read the deluge of bank marketing material that lands on my mat on a near-daily basis.
But for some reason, on Saturday, I cautiously opened one letter. It was from Nationwide, with whom I have a credit card.
At first glance, I was pleased. The letter stated my account had been credited with £20 - cold, hard cash I could view on my statement.
Then came the surprise: In order to keep it, I "simply" had to spend at least £1,000 on new purchases between 1 May and 30 June.
"If you meet these criteria, the £20 credit is yours to keep," the letter read.
Oh, thanks. Thanks a lot. Good ol' Nationwide, I thought.
However, the letter went on to state that, if I spent less than £1,000 during the next two months, the £20 would be removed from my account in July.
So, as a reward for spending £1,000 on its credit card, incurring its interest rates and its no-doubt-huge penalty charges should I then fail to make a minimum payment, I would be rewarded with 2% of that £1,000 (I did the math). For free.
As someone who only occasionally uses my credit card, I lost interest in this blatant marketing ploy pretty quickly.
I'm sure there are some people who may very well be planning to spend £1,000 this month - maybe on a holiday or a new sofa - who will be chomping at the bit to take advantage of Nationwide's staggering generosity.
But what about those who were not planning to load up their credit cards, but who have been enticed by this 'reward', as the bank calls it?
Perhaps they will now actively look to spend money they don't have just to get £20 off their purchases?
If that is the case, Nationwide will be having the last laugh, because if you can't afford your repayments on £1,000, how are you going to afford your repayments on £980?
And we wonder why the UK consumer is riddled with debt?"
Joanna Faith is the features editor on Professional Adviser and Investment Week
‘Important to have an anchor’
Report to be written by TPR
Lack of innovation for solutions
Some 2,000 consumers affected