While I'm on the subject of spam I figured I might as well rant about the spam that has me the most pissed off. Maybe I'm just cynical, but it has certainly become my opinion that any company that specializes in College Students as its sole business market seems to think students are gullible hamsters. The formula appears to be: 1) act "hip" and act as if you are interested in helping the student, 2) promise free things, 3) use lots of fine print, 4) treat your targe demographic like the idiots they will be if they don't see through your ruses, 5) profit!

Higher One is a fake bank (they are FDIC insured, but you tell me how many supermarkets have their ATM machine) that pretend to be a student-friendly financial helper. Just like the veritable tons of Willamette spam that I receive... They one-up the Willamette spammers by the fact that they sign contracts with Universities to take over residual disbursements and thus get a nice lock on captive audiences. They "kindly" offer you several (the list had a dozen) spam lists. Do I look stupid? I get enough spam from bots that I don't need people to opt me in on my behalf. Sure they were kind enough gave me the chance to opt-out, but only by unchecking each individually. At that point alone I would have taken my business elsewhere had I the choice. (...other than changing universities and moving to a different state, but I'm a bit locked in at the moment.) Don't get me started on the overly complex email confirmation, either.

The key thing that pisses me off the most is how unnecessarily difficult they make opting out of their goofy but "easy" OneAccount. Every single email from them is half a keystroke from being added to my junk mail filters because they keep trying to upsell the damn thing. Here's what I want: just deposit any money directly into my real bank account. So... fill out the online form with all the information and then, guess what, "Print this out and mail it to us." What is this, the 18th Century? All high and mighty they are about how "with it" and "hip" they are, and how much they are trying to be helpful... but they can't use manage to input some data into a database via a webform? Don't give me any crap about needing a physical signature, either, because the E-SIGN Act has been in place since 2000.

I'm, cynically, guessing its really just more incentive to try to upsell you to the OneAccount. I absolutely believe that that is the sole reason why they say it takes 5-7 days extra for them to post electronic (ACH) deposits rather than drop it into a OneAccount. If an ACH takes 5-7 days to post they either have some serious technological issues or every company I've ever worked for has time machines in the payroll departments.

Then, the OneAccount just seems like a nice way for them to skim interest and make a few small bucks on the side by offering "convenience". Again, they keep stating it is comparable to a bank account, but I get free checking and free savings from a real bank, that's been around the block several times (albeit with a few different names and sizes, but that's a different matter) and they are much more accessible and they are much more transparent (publically traded company, full disclosures of everything from SEC filings to annual reports posted directly on their website) than this OneAccount. Maybe once you get past the spam and marketing hype it is a decent deal...

I might be wrong, and maybe they aren't doing the things that my cynical mind says they are: skimming the interest from OneAccounts and taking the rebates generated by the MasterCard-branded Check Card (my bank gives me a percentage of my Visa's purchase rebates back, and I know precisely what that percentage is) and skimming the interest of large amounts of money artificially withheld for a few extra days... They are still a privately held company that takes only captive audiences, treats them like morons, spams the hell out of them, and profits from hopeless beauracracy by adding more layers of inept beauracracy...

I also have to wonder where the hell the millions of dollars my University is paying to PeopleSoft/Oracle is going... If their overpriced custom solution can't manage residual reimbursements, then what good are they?

I'll leave with this nugget of absurd legalese from Higher One:

By signing below, I request and agree to receive disbursements electronically to the bank account specified above. I have selected this option on the website. I understand that if I have not selected this option online that this request may not be accepted or processed.

I am very tempted to include a "This is the stupidest thing I have read and I feel dumber for having dealt with your company" letter with the form, but this blog entry will suffice.