Credit Card companies could learn a lot from McDonald’s

I was passing by McDonald’s the other day, when, near the straws and napkins, I happened to spot its brochure on nutritional explanations. Ok, when I say passing by, I mean passing by via the counter with my large fillet-o-fish meal, but let’s move swiftly on. I found this little, printed brochure fascinating. In it, there were details of the carbohydrate, fat, protein and salt content of its meals, both in actual terms and in proportion to the daily allowance (although no recommended vitamin levels), it also then pointed out that details were on each individual product’s packaging too…. something I hadn’t noticed before (not that I eat there regularly, of course).

What fascinated me was the explanation. In clear language it went through what the different types of food groups mean, how your body uses them and what this means for you. It’s this the credit card companies should sit up and take note of. As I’ve written about before (see message to politicians blog) the great call to help people with debts has been ‘more transparency’ – and eventually, in response credit card companies now publish a summary box when you apply. Yet for me this is nonsense, to throw complex figures and terms at people that they don’t understand is useless. It gives all the info you can possibly need, yet none of the info most people can understand.

Information without explanation is pointless, the summary box has been a triumph of transparency over understanding for most people. Yet this little McDonald’s booklet actually points the way. It’s well designed, colour coded and provides a good, but simple explanation of how things work. Rather than the bland, meaningless technical information of the summary box, a credit card version of this would actually work. A nice explanation, with the details for each specific card slotted in, rather than the box itself. If anyone from the credit card industry is reading, I’m happy to consult on this, (without charge or perhaps for a donation for the MSE charity fund) to come up with a standard that would genuinely help people. Let’s learn from Mickey Dee.

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PS. As an aside, one of the things that really interested me about this nutritional brochure was the fact to show the ‘recommended daily adult allowance’ they chose a woman who doesn’t exercise much. This means her calorie allowance is 2000 calories. This is fascinating, as it actually means the meals show up a larger portion of the days calories than necessary. They could’ve chosen an active man who would have a much higher daily allowance, making the calorie content of the value meals smaller. Whether this is so no one can have a go at it for it, and few people will read it anyway, I can only guess.