You have been selected to join the Merrill Edge® Client Advisory Panel, an exclusive group of clients who help us learn what we're doing right and what we need to do better. Every time you share your thoughts, you'll earn points which can be exchanged for retail gift cards or charitable donations. And just for joining, you'll be entered into a drawing for a $1,000 Visa® gift card.
Ordinarily, I would just click "SPAM" and be done with it, but curiosity killed the cat. So I sign up and see what the "advisory panel" is all about. It is a social media site, basically. They ask you so set up a username and password and provide perhaps too much personal information. And then you confirm your e-mail and you're in!
It is a blog, of sorts, run by some lady who works for Bank of America. You are asked to participate in surveys and you can "respond" to blog postings, but of course, cannot create your own. And the only blog posting is "What is your idea of a dream vacation?"
Dream vacation? Um, this is supposed to be a site about finances, which I tend to take deadly seriously, as it is indeed my survival at this point in life. Dream vacations? And like lemmings, everyone lists their top three destinations, with all sorts of gushing comments.
Some exclusive panel.
The only other discussion was a "welcome" page which appeared to be shilled. "Bank of America is the greatest bank on the planet, perhaps the galaxy!" one gushes, "and Merrill Edge is the bestest place to invest in!!!"
Really? People talk like that in real life? I felt like I was trapped in the middle of a Russian Troll Farm.
So I noped out of that nonsense. Fortunately, they offered an easy way to "cancel membership" without a lot of hoo-haw like Facebook uses to keep you in, when you want out.
But this alarmed me that my bank and one of my investment houses is going all social media on me, and wants to have a girly-chat about finances and fun places to spend money.
I am not sure that social media is the right place for an investment house. And I have written about Bank of America's more baser instincts before - how they want to sell you on the idea that spending money is OK so long as you "budget" for your coffee drinks and then roll your massive credit card debts over into a home equity loan.
It seems they want debtors more than investors. It seems they want the brainless, depressed drones who spend all day on social media. And the reason is simple, depressed people make excellent consumers.
There are no gains on social media, only losses.
P.S. - dream vacation? I'm on vacation every day, my friend!