Russell Simmons was all over the press last week, doing damage control about his RushCard prepaid card and its plethora of fees. He was reacting to journalists highlighting that, while he was in front of cameras in Washington fighting against the Durbin amendment about debit card interchange fees, his company UniRush was busy gouging its cardholders with an unbelievable array of fees.
Simmons accused journalists of mis-reading the table of fees listed in the terms and conditions of the card on the RushCard website and of mixing up fees for the “pay as you go” card with the fees of the “pay monthly” program to make the card appear more expansive than it really is.
Well, he missed the irony that both plans are charging “as you go”, and that there is no option to pay upfront for all services, contrary to his allegation that his cardholders could opt to buy up the card, like car shoppers would just buy a car upfront and not have to may for a monthly lease or loan reimbursement.
He even asked for a correction to be published by those publications.
Anyone can check the fee table for themselves at http://www.rushcard.com/cardholder.aspx
Here is what Robert Schmidt and Patrick O’Connor of Bloomberg Business Week wrote in their article “How Russell Simmons Out-Lobbied Big Banks“:
Unmentioned are the fees Simmons’ company imposes for its cards, including:
- a $9.95 monthly charge (correct: pay monthly plan)
- a $3 activation fee (correct: pay monthly plan)
- $1 for every purchase if a PIN is used (correct: pay monthly plan)
- $1 for online bill paying (correct: pay monthly plan; the journalist was generous enough not to mention that just enrolling for bill payment is $2)
- $0.50 to check your balance at the ATM (correct: pay monthly plan)
So the list of fees reported by Business Week is 100% correct, and they have not attempted to mix fees from various plans to make the cards appear more expansive than they really are.
Simmons also acted as if he was being insulted by his product being called a “prepaid card”. Well, the very title of the product’s website is:
“RushCard | Prepaid card | Prepaid Debit Card | Prepaid Visa | Prepaid Credit Card”
So, dear Russell Simmons, you certainly have excellent intentions, but the folks at UniRush are doing a terrible job with one of the most expansive products in the marketplace. No amount of spinning efforts on your part will change the fact that your card is among the worst choices for the very people you claim to be helping.
Start by cleaning up shop in Cincinatti.