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No transit, no power, but my bank loves me: Hurricane Sandy’s flood of marketing emails

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

During Hurricane Sandy, I received no fewer than eight identical emails, clearly written by a frustrated English major who got super excited about finally getting to do something creative.

It begins augustly: “As Hurricane Sandy barrels ashore…” Is anyone else thinking, that’s pure Coleridge? “UPS remains committed to the safety of our employees and the protection and delivery of your shipments.” It is? Why start now?

A number of retailers, including banks and credit-card companies, mass-emailed similar messages of concern to their customers. Expect more in coming days as businesses assess the storm’s fallout, which ranges from closed stores to displaced employees to delayed shipments. Check your inbox, feel the love. Your credit card company is worried about you, especially American Express:

Here’s an email that Barclaycard sent to customers of the LL Bean Visa card. They were worried you found the storm scary:

… and maybe you’d think that after this heartfelt, Red Cross-esque outpouring of emotion, “proactive steps” would mean something like buying sandbags or giving out free LL Bean flannel pyjamas at storm shelters. Instead, the company goes on to tell you, among other things, that it’ll be happy to send you a new credit card:

So they are basically saying that if you lost your card, they will replace it. And that if you have moved or hunkered down with family, they will actually take note of your new address. Which is kind of what credit card companies are supposed to do anyway.

LL Bean, the same company that co-branded the above card, sent another email to its catalog customers four hours later that was so opportunistic that it puts ambulance chasers to shame. Basically, the message seems to be that now that you know you can get a duplicate credit card sent to your new shelter, you should consider buying a wide-wale corduroy shirt.

How is a “wide-wale” cordoroy shirt supposed to help you after a hurricane? Oh, it “doubles as a light jacket.” Mystery solved.

Meanwhile, Urban Outfitters makes a very cogent point with their kitty and Frankenstein GIF, which was sent to customers on Monday afternoon: “This storm blows, but free shipping on all orders doesn’t.” Hard to disagree. However, if you’re one of the millions of people without power, you might instead be thinking, maybe I should wait to make sure my house isn’t flooded and my family is still alive before ordering ugly jewelry.

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