Has Suze Orman lost her cred?
Her new prepaid debit card has underwhelmed many observers. And her Twitter response to critics was classless.
Suze Orman, a wealthy TV celebrity who offers tough love personal-finance advice, has taken her share of shots in the past. "Bad advice from Suze Orman" and "I don't hate Suze; I just disagree" are headlines that have appeared here at MSN Money.
But that's nothing compared with the war of words between Orman and a bunch of personal-finance bloggers on Twitter regarding the merits of her new prepaid debit card, The Approved Card. Orman even referred to popular PF blogger Philip "PT" Taylor as an "idiot." Seems like she needs a thicker skin.
First, a bit more about that prepaid card: It's not the best one on the market, but it's far from the worst. Yes, it has fees (you can find the full list here) but they're not as onerous as some other prepaid cards. It also gives you free unlimited access to your TransUnion credit reports and credit scores for a year, although keep in mind that the score is not a FICO score -- the score you should care about -- and you can get those things free from Credit Karma without signing up for a prepaid card.
In a post on his blog, PT criticized the fees and also the claim that the card is an "easier, smarter way to be debt free." He wrote: "As opposed to what? Cash? It's certainly not easier or smarter than a no-fee bank debit card."
He also disputed Orman's claim that her card may someday help people improve their credit scores -- an effort by Orman that has drawn praise from other PF writers. PT wrote:
The credit project is dead on arrival. Your activity on this card will be anonymously reported to one of the credit bureaus (TransUnion), in hopes that they will one day consider it for inclusion in your credit report. This will never happen. Debit or prepaid spending has absolutely nothing to do with credit and your ability to be viewed as credit-worthy.
Things got ugly on Twitter after that.
Post continues below.
Briana Myricks of 20 and Engaged tweeted:
I'm so disappointed @SuzeOrmanShow. Suze Orman's Pre-Paid Debit Card - The Approved Card http://t.co/6UfI5lXb via @ptmoney
@20andengaged Too bad you choose to believe an idiot over me- you just keep following others and see where it gets you –
Free From Broke jumped in:
@20andengaged @SuzeOrmanShow @ptmoney Suze, why resort to words like "Idiot?" Why not promote what you think are benefits of yr card?
@freefrombroke @20andengaged @suzeormanshow Wow. I'm speechless. Thanks, Briana and Glen.
At that point, "Twitter went wild!" Myricks wrote on her blog. "PF bloggers came to the rescue and voiced their opinions, infuriated with someone we thought was a genuine person. Boy, were we wrong!"
The next day, Ron Lieber of The New York Times also left some choice remarks.
Hi @suzeormanshow Insulting me & others makes u seem small. Odd, given the big deal ur product is. As I said in the NYT, I hope you succeed.
@ronlieber Ron- I would never insult YOU- you are a great reporter and I admire the piece that you did- it was honest and thorough! Sorry
@SuzeOrmanShow Ur apology=inaccurate. Never insult? "Ron Lieber, I wud take good look in mirror b/c something isnt quite right w you sir."
Oh, yes, that's what she said. Then the apologies came, to Lieber and others.
For anyone I called an idiot I too am sorry. I should have known better. That never should have happened so again I admit that I was wrong"
Not a good day. Meanwhile, Orman is getting bashed on other fronts.
Writing about celebrity-endorsed prepaid cards, Tim Chen wrote at Forbes, "In their eagerness to capitalize on a trendy and morally dubious market, Suze Orman and Lil Wayne will only deepen the financial woes of the unbanked."
Others are uncomfortable that someone who dispenses personal-finance advice for a living -- "Approved!" "Denied" -- has ventured into the prepaid card market. Felix Salmon wrote at Reuters:
Of course, there are questions associated with this product, too. Ron Lieber is worried about Orman's journalistic integrity, on the grounds that she has a weekly show on CNBC: "if I tried to introduce my own card," he writes, "the ethics editor would laugh me out of the New York Times building". I'm not particularly bothered by this, although I am a little bit uncomfortable about her longstanding move into financial products more generally, which long predates the Approved Card. For instance, Suze Orman's FICO® Kit Platinum will cost you $49.95 -- a much worse deal than the Approved Card.
What's your take? Has Orman let you down? Is she a personal-finance expert in your book, or just another TV celebrity?
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She clearly thinks herself better than anyone else in the financial community. Her feelings for bloggers not being "legit reporters" is disappointing as well considering bloggers often have her products advertised on their sites.
Her apology felt completely emotionless and was probably only done because her pr team was trying to smooth things over. It failed, in my opinion.
I did tweet her myself and ask her to respond to the criticism and she replied "that is a good idea." I'd be interested in seeing if it comes to fruition.
As a mortgage broker and banker for almost 16 years, it actually bothers me greatly the few times I've watched her show to hear her give advice on mortgages and credit that in a word, is simply, wrong.
People take this womans advice and then I have to discount her and tell them the truth. Unfortunately they still want to believe the famous person on TV.
Has Suze Orman lost her cred?
Hmmmm, let me see now...Ummmm,....Is this a trick question?
If this isn't selling out then I don't know what is. Had Orman hooked up with a card offering above and beyond what others were offering then this backlash probably would not have happened to the degree that it has.
It appears to be a move based on making money using her name while charging consumers excessive fees to people who have trusted her for sound financial advice. I believe the Suzy Orman brand is irreparably tarnished. People had come to expect a certain degree of moxy and sound financial advice from her, but this move smells of corporate greed.
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