Bankruptcy ain’t cheap. August 11, 2011Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: advertising, bankruptcy, bankruptcy ads, decency, decline in national values, honor, integrity, ludicrous ads
It should have been in The Onion. But unfortunately, it was for real. There was the ad, featuring an attractive, happily smiling older couple:
“Let BANKRUPTCY help you get a FRESH START debt-free! STOP foreclosures! STOP repossessions! STOP creditor calls! STOP lawsuits! STOP sheriff sales! STOP wage garnishments! Eliminate your credit card debt!”
Well, unbelievable to our friend Ben, anyway. I cannot for the life of me imagine what sort of person would declare bankruptcy when they still have a job and are earning money (“STOP wage garnishments!”). Or default on the agreements they voluntarily entered into to pay people for services rendered (“STOP lawsuits! Eliminate your credit card debt!”). No wonder the economy’s tanking.
In the good old days, defaulting on loans and agreements entered into in good faith was cause for humiliation and shame at best and debtors’ prison at worst, not for cheerful smiles in gloating ads. It’s certainly a comment both on our declining national values and on the situation so many people have found themselves in when they’re bombarded with encouragement to buy, buy, buy and reassured of cheap credit on every side. (But as our hero and blog mentor, the great Benjamin Franklin, warned, “Creditors have better memories than debtors.” Or as the comedian Steven Wright so memorably put it, “If you think nobody cares that you’re alive, try missing a payment.”)
I read recently that the average American homeowner carries roughly $300,000 in debt. At first, I found this unbelievable. How could someone rack up this much debt? Then I thought about it, and realized I was being clueless. A family carrying a mortgage, two (or more) monthly car payments, credit-card debt, perhaps a home equity loan, maybe college loans…. $300,000 begins to look small. And that, my friends, is damned scary.
Getting back to the bankruptcy ad, the best part was that it included a coupon for “$500 off any bankruptcy! Restrictions apply.” If the law firm that placed this delightful ad is offering $500 off, what on earth must it cost to file for bankruptcy through them?! Yow. Yes, there certainly are pro bono lawyers, but something tells me these guys aren’t among them.
Our friend Ben says: If you happen to have $500 lying around, you might be better off applying that money to your legitimate creditors. And giving some serious thought to finding ways to live within your means.