UK Cash Cowboys launch high street sex shops to help flog its balance transfer credit cards
Ainsley Fibber / Bitchfield Evening Standard / 30 April 2015
The well-respected credit card giant Barkercard is locked in a death struggle this morning with the cheap and nasty newcomer to the market, UK Cash Cowboys, who today launched a challenger to Barkercard’s market-leading 36 month balance transfer credit card.
While both company’s cards offer 0% for 36 months, the Cowboys 1999% per cent APR is considerably higher than Barkercard’s 18.9%, whose 2.99% balance transfer fee is also dwarfed by the Cowboys’ 119.99%. So basically, for every £100 of debt you transfer to the Cowboys’ card, they charge you £120. And if you slip a day over the 3 years without clearing the balance, expect to be paying thousands in interest from day one. It’s all there in the small-print if you look, under the section titled ‘Don’t look here, it’s all boring, just buy the card and everything will be fine’.
But before you reject the Cowboys Credit Card out of hand it comes with additional customer benefits that really make it stand out from competitors like Barkercard. In fact, in its latest blatant attempt to bribe customers into buying some of its financial tat, the upstart challenger bank has renamed its high street branches as ‘Garden Sheds’ and launched half a dozen chill-style ‘Steam Rooms’ on the streets of our towns and cities, for customers to hang out, buy stuff, and have sex.
The refurbished high street properties, which were recently purchased from the national dry-cleaning chain Starchleys after they went bankrupt, were given a quick hoover and a lick of paint in an overnight re-branding exercise, before having a new logo slapped on and opening their doors as UK Cash Cowboys.
The bank have opened 75 of these Garden Sheds, or ‘Sheds’ as they’re being radically called by the challenger bank, in towns and cities up and down the country, where customers can pay in and withdraw money, just like in a normal bank branch.
But the Steam Rooms are where the real action is. These are an entirely new concept which are for now only being trialled in a handful of major cities like London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Glasgow and Norwich to measure customer interest. Customers won’t actually be able to do any banking transactions in the Steam Rooms. They’ll be more like drop-in centres where customers can put up their feet after a hard day’s shopping, relax on a sofa and check out UK Cash Cowboys’ new balance transfer card and range of other exorbitantly-priced financial products on a company iPad, while being distracted by a live sex show streaming onto overhead TV screens.
“They were originally going to be named something safe like Lounges or Stores where we’d bribe the punters with free coffee and sticky buns and tacky shit like that, you know, colouring books for the kids, but that just felt really lame,” said Chief Marketing Officer Dick Holder. “We decided if we were going to really stand out from the other banks we’d need next level thinking. So we briefed in our agency, Pratt, Rypov, Igo, Charlatan, Konman and Shytter, you know, the geniuses behind our new Pigeon Ukulele Blues and Tortoise on a roller skate TV ads. They’ve come up with the whole brilliant Steam Room idea, which is like so totally out there. I mean, they grey-skied the whole concept of what we all crave as human beings. Once you’ve got the boring shit like tea and coffee out the way, basically sex is where it’s at. And Steam Room so captures the whole free sex thing, don’t you think? Completely radical. Have you had a look inside one yet? You can get condoms, Viagra, sex toys, amyl nitrate, morning after pills, abortions. We’ve really pushed the envelope on this one. You can’t get this kind of bare-faced bribery at any other bank.”
When I quizzed the CMO about the thinking behind calling their main high street branches ‘Garden Sheds’, and whether that might confuse customers, Holder was unrepentant. Slapping me across the face, he said, “Watch it, sonny. Any more lip from you and you’ll be feeding fish at the bottom of the Wensum. You are dicking around with the wrong people. We are bankers. You don’t question ANYTHING we do, kapeesh? Not if you want to keep your fingernails on. Listen, the Sheds are like, where you typically keep all your tools and knick-knacks when you want to do shit, yeah? Keep up. So we had the idea that our branches, sorry, our Sheds were like where you could do all your banking shizzle, you with me? You come in, buy some insurance, pay into our pension, gamble a few grand on dodgy shares, so we get to fuck you over and take all your money. All under one roof. Like a shed. Geddit?”
In a first for a UK high street bank, the Steam Rooms will be staffed by teams of highly photogenic ‘Trolley Dollies’ and oiled-up ‘Gladiators’. The dress code will be chic see-through lingerie, dicky-bows and thongs. The staff will offer a range of casual sexual services for free, to the drop in customers. “It’s a hooooge win-win,” said Xerxes, one of the Gladiators from the Norwich Steam Room, “I get to boff loads of massively frustrated housewives with serious nymphomaniac issues, who just pop in for a five minute top-up on their way to Tesco. For them they get to be famous by appearing in the videos, as well as getting a right proper seeing-to. I’ve not had any complaints, put it like that. I think this kind of commitment to customer service is a real first for UK banking, which definitely sets UK Cash Cowboys apart from the other boring banks. To be honest me and Emma thought it would have been brill to call it like, you know, a Speakeasy, Den or Massive, some bad shit like that. But I guess with all the boy girl action going on in the Customer Satisfaction Cubicles upstairs management wanted to keep it real. See that chandelier swinging? That’s proper gland to gland combat, that is. You could write your name on the mirrors in the bogs up there.”
Xerxes’ sentiment was echoed by CEO Cleopatra LeGrande, who was awarded a CBE for services to bullying in the recent New Years’ Honours list. “We think it’ll be a real game changer. I mean, name me another bank where a poor person can just drop in and get a quick BJ from a smoking hot bimbo, or you can drop off your wife for a cheeky bit of double DP by two totally ripped hunks hung like trident missiles? We’re hoping this blatant appeal to the basest desires of our punters will encourage them to buy loads of our over-priced crap and increase my already considerable personal fortune massively, so like my bonuses are off the map. Why are you looking at me like that? Have you ever broken a bone? Do you how painful it is? In fact, do you know what it’s like to have your fingers pulled back til they snap, sweetheart? Well take that stupid look off your face then. I’m running a bank, lovey, not a nursery.”
The bank’s Culture Director, Steve ‘WD40’ Lovett, was excited about the Cowboys new move into bricks and mortar. “When Starchleys went bankrupt, we thought, get in. I mean you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, do you. We’d been hanging around for years hoping to pick up a bank on the cheap, to give us some kind of ersatz credibility on the high street. So naturally when Starchleys went tits up we were in there like a rat up a drainpipe. Bosh. Take that you muppet. Got them for an absolute steal. For now we’ve just opened Steam Rooms in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Norwich. We’re still in ‘proof of concept’ stage, yeah. Once we’ve demonstrated we can really hook the mugs in with promises of free casual sex on tap, then get them to buy shed loads… ha ha… of our high-charging, middle-of-the-road financial tat, we can turn them into long-term cash cows. We’ll be fucking minting it bro,” he said.
I was about ask Lovett what the high street challenger bank would do if the Steam Rooms proved an unprofitable venture, when LeGrande brushed him to one side and got right in my face. “Don’t talk to me about profits,” she hissed, “we’ve just blagged a 3.6% share of the mortgage market, you dickhead. Our retail deposits have increased to £22.2bn, and our credit card balances totalled more than a BILLION quid! Fuck you, loser. My end of year bonus is going to be COCKING HUGE this year! Ten mill at least. What are you on, thirty K a year, you sad journo muppet. As for the Steam Rooms, don’t you worry about them sweetheart. If they don’t wash their face we’ll sink them quicker than the fucking Titanic. Screw the customers. They can go down the sodding brothel and pay for it like everyone else. Now jog on back to your newspaper, you nosey cunt. And you can quote me on that.”by