Kardashian debit card cancelled after criticism
NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" may be a hit, but a debit card tied to U.S. reality television family has been canceled.
A Minnesota lender on Monday halted sales of a prepaid debit card featuring an image of the Kardashian sisters, after Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the card carried "outrageous" fees that unfairly targeted financially unsophisticated young adults.
University National Bank said the 250 consumers who bought the MasterCard-branded "Kardashian Kard" since its November 9 launch may continue using it for 30 days, and thereafter would receive refunds of balances and up-front fees.
The St. Paul-based company said it was reviewing its agreement with the Kardashians' company Dash Dolls LLC to ensure that card holders get refunds, and would work to ensure that card holders "experience as little inconvenience as possible."
Blumenthal had complained on Friday that the debit card burdened fans of Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian's "lives of luxury and extravagance" with fees that could reach $100 a year, plus fees for ATM withdrawals, cancellations and talking with a phone operator.
According to a letter from the Kardashians' lawyer released by Blumenthal's office, the sisters on Monday pulled out of the agreement allowing the bank to use their likenesses on the card.
"The Kardashians have worked extremely long and hard to create a positive public persona that appeals to everyone, particularly young adults," wrote the lawyer, Dennis Roach.
"Unfortunately, the negative spotlight turned on the Kardashians as a result of the Attorney General's comments and actions threatens everything for which they have worked."
A spokesman for Purchase, New York-based MasterCard Inc referred a request for comment to University National.
Prepaid debit cards associated with celebrities "are becoming more and more popular," said Pamela Banks, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union in Washington, D.C.
"Tying a card to someone who is famous or wealthy can get more consumers to say, 'I want to be more like the rich and famous,"' she continued. "But prepaid debit cards do not have the same protections that traditional debit cards have, and often have hidden fees that eat away at their value."
Connecticut voters this month elected Blumenthal, a Democrat, to the U.S. Senate, beginning in January.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)
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