Do NOT Shred it and Forget it!


Public relations people often pitch products to bloggers like me. Most PR pitches tout harmless products, which I ignore. Until now.

Today a PR company sent me a ridiculous and financially harmful message. These PR people want you to shred your unpaid credit card statements to ignore creditors, to hide consumer debt, and to keep spending. Just buy their paper shredder (it’s only $69.99) and all “evidence” of your over indulgent “retail therapy” can be destroyed and hidden “out of sight”. I $hit you not. These people are serious.

Squawkfox Picture: Mocking the financial advice of a PR pitch


Here’s the email:

Start out the new year by shredding out the old!

Dear Fox,

What could be a better way to start off the New Year? By shredding out the old!

As we approach the New Year and continue to navigate an ecomony [sic] that forbids the kind of retail therapy we women enjoy, many of us are looking to start off fresh. Depending on how budget-conscious one was in 2008, starting anew may require getting rid of sticky pasts.

[Company Name] has the perfect new product to accomplish such a task: the [Product Name]. It comes in red and silver and shreds up to eight sheets at a time. Best of all, its handle and compact size allows aesthetically-minded users to stow away the shredder with ease once all evidence of indulgences has been destroyed, thus keeping bills, credit card statements and receipts out of sight.

Not to mention, shredding is recommended as a key measure to prevent identity theft. Even during this economic crisis, we still need a little retail fix here and there, and now we can do it sans evidence!

For a product sample please contact Justine. The [Product Name] is available for $69.99 at [Company Name] stores and online.


Yes ladies, with your credit card statements “out of sight” you are free to “start fresh” with some retail therapy, despite the economic crisis. Hiding the evidence is the key to spending success splendor. Don’t fret your pretty face on financial frivolity since this shredder is “aesthetically” pleasing and matches your pricey pumps.

Fox’s response:

Dear Justine,

Did you write this poorly spelled sexist crap?

I am horrified by your shred it and financially forget it mentality towards credit card bills. Women (and men) have financial and legal obligations to pay their creditors. Besides, unpaid credit cards rack up big interest debt fast!

Do you know about Credit Scores? Those pesky bad FICO scores can determine who gets approved for loans and mortgages. Not paying your shredded bills is a sure fire path to bankruptcy and foreclosure. You can’t hide your financial woes in a paper shredder.


Do be smart about spending this holiday:

  • Do pay your credit card bills.
  • Do be aware of media messages.
  • Do spell “economy” correctly.
  • Don’t be a Justine.

Are you horrified by this financially foul PR product pitch?


  1. Evelyn Lim December 13, 2008 at 4:13 am

    I am horrified by the sales pitch! It is misleading!! I tend to trash any emails that are like it rightaway! I consider them spam!

  2. marci December 13, 2008 at 4:17 am

    And the sad thing is, to some people it will make perfect sense!

  3. Iva December 13, 2008 at 5:03 am

    I’m not sure which is more horrifying: the fact that someone would create a product like this that actually *hurts* the consumer or the fact that it’s pitched in such a way to suggest that women aren’t in charge of their finances and are actually be weak enough to *need* retail therapy.

  4. Iva December 13, 2008 at 5:04 am

    [repost for grammar correction]

    I’m not sure which is more horrifying: the fact that someone would create a product like this that actually *hurts* the consumer or the fact that it’s pitched in such a way to suggest that women aren’t in charge of their finances and are actually weak enough to *need* retail therapy.

  5. Andrea Phillips December 13, 2008 at 5:47 am

    That’s the worst think I may have ever heard. Problems don’t go away by shredding them. Have we all gone mad? It’s time to pull up those big girl panties and take care of business for those people who hate paying the credit card companies – QUIT USING CREDIT CARDS. Genius, I know. Pay those credit cards off and be a slave to NO ONE! This has been my motto and my husband and I are debt free minus our house. There’s a little word we forgot somewhere along the way, oh that’s right, it’s NO! I don’t say no to be hateful, just realistic. Ok, off to another soap box.

  6. neimanmarxist December 13, 2008 at 5:50 am

    ca-razy! actually i know justine . she’s a nice lady, when she takes her pills.

  7. Fabulously Broke December 13, 2008 at 6:01 am

    That turns my stomach.

  8. CindyS December 13, 2008 at 6:03 am

    Oh Good Grief! It sounds like something that will not only wreck your credit rating but probably your marriage as well. The sad thing is that it will probably give some people ideas.

  9. jim December 13, 2008 at 6:19 am

    It’s pretty sad really… spending and then burying your head in the sand is not a smart financial move. πŸ™‚

  10. Mrs. Micah December 13, 2008 at 6:30 am

    Damn. Starting afresh doesn’t mean leaving around huge messes that you’ll eventually have to clean up. It means cleaning up the messes and THEN starting afresh. Or starting afresh WHILE cleaning up the messes, if they’re big ones.

    Otherwise, all the receipt-hiding in the world doesn’t provide any therapy at all.

    (managed to work out all my angrier stuff before commenting!)

  11. Dustin McClure December 13, 2008 at 6:50 am

    Oh man, if I would have only known about this method a year and a half ago when I decided to start paying back my credit cards. Shredding would of been a lot easier.

  12. Susy December 13, 2008 at 6:51 am

    I can’t believe it. But the people who think retail therapy cures their problems will also think this will solve their credit problems.

    Ahhhhh, financial incompetence, make the world go around!

  13. Kerry December 13, 2008 at 7:01 am

    @Evelyn Lim I tend to ignore these emails as well. BUT this pitch is promoting product from a VERY big recognizable company. I wonder if this office supplies company is aware of the messages their PR firm is spewing.

    @marci Very true.

    @Iva The first thing that struck me about this email was the sexism. I was so angered I had to walk away from my computer.

    @Andrea Phillips You are welcome to step onto the soap box any day! You’re approach is financially solid!

    @neimanmarxist Hilarious! πŸ˜€

    @Fabulously Broke My stomach is still flipping out.

    @CindyS Who needs marriage when you have a bill shredder. πŸ˜€

    @jim Well said! I’m still shaking my head and there’s no sand in sight.

    @Mrs.Micah Justine isn’t very financially fresh. LOL It’s good your anger is worked out. I wrote 3 different versions of this post, all with varying levels of disgust. I’m still annoyed.

  14. Kerry December 13, 2008 at 7:02 am

    @Susy I’ve never understood “retail therapy”. πŸ˜€

  15. reno rambler December 13, 2008 at 7:16 am

    This is the kind of thinking that got our economy in this mess to begin with.

  16. Jennifer December 13, 2008 at 8:14 am

    Wow. Just wow.

    That’s like giving a giant box of candy to someone and saying “As long as you hide the wrappers, the calories don’t count! So eat up!”

    Thanks for sharing! I’m always amazed at how stupid some people are – especially since you know someone will fall for it.

  17. marci December 13, 2008 at 8:27 am

    @fox – I think you should send an annoyed letter and a copy of all these remarks to the big company and let them know how the consumers feel about this ad….. who knows, maybe they’ll send you a free shredder πŸ™‚

  18. Jennifer December 13, 2008 at 8:35 am

    You’ve got to love the way the message tell us the shredder comes in red and silver, as if it’s another shiny accessory for the simple minded woman.

  19. dandy rose December 13, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Agreed, horrible. The shredding is to hide the receipts from the husband, who allegedly would pay the bills.

    forbids the kind of retail therapy we women enjoy … the use of “forbids” encourages these women to shop, in some pseudo-feminist rebellion? How odd.

    I like the fact that identity fraud is the afterthought selling point.

    Pathetic, sexist marketing. That company should be boycotted.

  20. Sagan December 13, 2008 at 10:20 am

    That’s awful! Such total crap.

  21. Patrick December 13, 2008 at 11:40 am

    I love it! Well, your post, not the PR pitch! πŸ˜‰

    It’s that “throw it under the bed” mentality that gets people into too much trouble in life. Just be accountable for your actions folks. It’s not that hard!

  22. Unspender December 13, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    That is horrifying! I wonder if she’ll write you back. Please update us if she does.

  23. Jennifer (Danifer) December 14, 2008 at 7:54 am

    Wow, I love how they target women! Like men don’t spend just as much? My ex husband is the reason I had so much credit card debt. And to think, all you have to do is shred your evidence and NO ONE can find out. This is such a stupid ad. I am glad you wrote back. One thing their silly ad got, was some publicity. Sometimes that’s all these companies want, even if it is negative.

  24. Melanie Samson December 14, 2008 at 8:25 am

    It sounds like it’s geared towards women whose husbands will be footing the bill. So if you destroy the evidence, you can’t get “in trouble” with your husband. It actually reminds me on an episode of “I Love Lucy” where she lies to Ricky about buying new hats.

    Sad that some people think we haven’t progressed since the 1950s.

  25. Coco December 14, 2008 at 8:59 am

    I certainly hope that there is not someone out there silly enough to fall for such a ridiculous idea. That is like stashing a dead body under your floor boards… Out of site … no crime. Wow.

  26. Connie Walsh December 14, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    It has to be a tongue-in-cheek kinda thing…hip advertising … not smart but kinda funny.


  27. Kerry December 14, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    @ Jennifer (Danifer) I was very careful NOT to give anyone publicity. I removed the product name, the company name, and the PR firm name from the posted email. Nobody got a link either. πŸ˜€

    @Connie Walsh I don’t think they were trying to be funny. πŸ™

    @Coco Indeed. Shred the body of evidence. Just hide it!

    @Melanie Samson I too thought of “I Love Lucy.” πŸ˜€

    @Unspender I will post here if she writes back. Promise.

    @Patrick Thank you for linking to me. πŸ™‚

    @Sagan It is crap. Total crapola!

    @dandy rose I would love to boycott this company…but I don’t want to post their name and give them any notice.

    @Jennifer They want us to accessorize our bill shredders. Silly. Stupid. Indeed. πŸ˜‰

    @marci I think I will email the company…just to let them know I’m not impressed with their PR firm’s messaging. If they send me a shredder, I’ll have a giveaway contest for the readers. πŸ˜‰

    @Jennifer I love your chocolate and calories analogy. I’ll just hide the wrappers in my back pockets to hide my butt. LOL

    @reno rambler Very very true.

  28. Nicki December 14, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Things like this enrage me. I can’t stand advertising that attempts to take advantage of people in such a deceptive manor. Kudos to you.

  29. How NOT to Handle Overspending December 15, 2008 at 4:02 am

    […] Sometimes I feel like nothing shocks or appalls me anymore. But this last week, I found that I can still be shocked…by what other people think is a reasonable proposition. Squawkfox, a fellow blogger, received a PR pitch for shredders—so that you can get rid of the evidence of your spending. […]

  30. Pete December 15, 2008 at 7:52 am

    When you first mentioned this on another forum, I was a bit shocked that they would be pitching this product this way. Yikes. No shame!

  31. doctor S December 15, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Wow! I guess they did not have an editor or professional proofreader to check it out before they hit send? Absolutely absurd that there actually people out there that would try and pitch something like this!

  32. Kerry December 15, 2008 at 10:40 am

    @Nicki I hear ya! πŸ˜‰

    @Pete Shame on the paper shredder sellers. Yikes.

    @doctor S I too was surprised by the poor grammar and spelling. I’m not perfect, but I’m not representing a “big box store” client either.

  33. Coco December 15, 2008 at 11:45 am

    Thanks for stopping by and making my day. I actually can’t take credit for that tagline. I received a t-shirt from a friend once that was similar but with a lot less words. Bye the way I love… your site. Awesome.

  34. Pamela @ Frugal Vet Tech December 15, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    “Step 3. You’re financially free.”

    Um, so you don’t have to actually pay those bills you just racked up? Shredding them means you don’t have to pay them off?

    Wow. Just wow.

  35. Carla December 15, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    I too wonder if she will write back. I get spam like that too and it immediately goes to the trash. Maybe I should try to dig some up.

    This is sad and sick though. I wonder if anyone would fall for that crap.

  36. Vered - MomGrind December 15, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Unbelievable. I agree with Evelyn: this is spam.

  37. Kerry December 15, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    @Coco Anyone who calls their blog “Screaming for Chocolate” has my COMPLETE attention! So happy to meet you! πŸ˜€

    @Pamela @Frugal Vet Tech I guess after racking up the bills, you need to buy another shredder?

    @Vered Sadly this is as real as it gets. The PR company is real. The company selling the shredder is a BIG BOX store. Everything checks out…except the pitch.

  38. Noam December 16, 2008 at 8:34 am

    Am I the only one who read that as a clever ad for a shredder? The bit about identity theft was the ‘coming back to seriousness’ part, and the rest was just entertaining to get your attention…

  39. Noam December 16, 2008 at 8:35 am

    Tongue in cheek, so-to-speak

  40. Kristine December 16, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Funny, and tempting, but no.

    Thanks for commenting in my blog πŸ™‚

  41. Moments of Fame « Funny about Money December 16, 2008 at 9:56 am

    […] Depression before Β and was happy to see it in this carnival. In the weird department, check out the strange pitch Squawkfox got from some advertiser. Retire at 40 discusses a topic that has become especially apposite of late: […]

  42. nancy (aka money coach) December 16, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    That’s just insane, and offensive on so many levels. “the kind of retail therapy we women enjoy”?!? Clearly, Justine doesn’t read enough women personal finance bloggers! My feminist hackles are raised!

  43. Amy December 17, 2008 at 10:36 am

    It’s great to hear how strongly so many people feel about this “pitch”. There isn’t much I could add, except thanks for providing a place to host a conversation that is inspirational at a time of year when many of us are getting a lot of bills.

  44. December 17, 2008 at 12:20 pm


    That’s completely amazing that someone would make a pitch like that! But, it must be the season.

    Just this morning a woman contacted me about my upcoming “green product reviews” page for (which plainly says that all reviews are not compensated and unbiased).

    She disregarded my warning on the site, and wanted to pay me to write up a good review for her products.

    Makes you wonder how people sleep at night…Yikes.

  45. Jules December 18, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Crazily irresponsible marketing! But anyone who actually believes it and follows the recommendation … well, that is scary.

    By the way (not related to this post, but in response to your comment on my site) β€” you should definitely give the Las Vegas Marathon a try! But don’t be fooled. October can be extremely cold… I once shortened a camping trip in the desert off of LV Boulevard (where part of the marathon takes place) in October, ironically, the morning of that race, because of being chilled to the bone. And, actually, it is currently snowing in LV… and school is canceled today!! So, definitely not as cold as Canada or other areas of the states (I went to grad school in North Dakota), but definitely not warm in the winter, hehe. So pack appropriately : ). And happy running!

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