Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is a "letter of intent" between Command Credit Corp. and Electronic Data Systems Corp.
Command, a Garden City, N.Y., company that has struggled to develop credit card marketing programs, has such a letter from EDS, according to a press release it issued last week.
Command said the letter of intent calls for the two companies' "development, formation, and implementation of a business relationship."
But EDS denied it had approved the contents of the release. EDS said it has only gotten into negotiations that may or may not lead to a business agreement.
"That's a total lie," said William G. Lucas, Command Credit's chairman and chief executive officer. "They had that release for four days, and our sales person confirmed that it was O.K. over the telephone.
"When we said we wanted to publicize it, they said they don't ordinarily publicize letters of intent, because often they don't happen, but (that) we had their permission."
"We're in discussions with them about a possible business relationship in the future, but any disclosure about the nature of that relationship would be premature," said Craig Dees, an EDS spokesman in Plano, Tex.
A copy of the document, provided by Mr. Lucas, read: "This letter confirms the intention of Command Credit Corp. and Electronic Data Systems Corp. to enter into discussions to explore the formation of a business relationship ... .
"EDS and Command intend to diligently pursue such discussions in good faith with the goal of reaching a definitive agreement regarding the formation and operation of the business relationship by Jan. 31, 1996."
Under consideration are "provision by EDS of processing for an array of credit and debit products" and "provision by Command, through its affiliate, Berwyn Holdings Inc., of all components of back-office support for credit and debit card servicing."
In an interview Mr. Lucas said, "Before we virtually gave away the processing business. Now we'll be working on it." He stressed that existing contracts with banks will be honored.
Command acquired Berwyn Holdings, a bank card servicer in Wilmington, Del., last March. In addition to secured cards, Berwyn handles medical cards and student loans.
Industry observers said a deal with EDS would bring Command Credit the credibility it has lacked.
Command has variously been described as a credit card processor, servicing company, and marketer of secured cards, but has not been a force in any area.
EDS, a major provider of data processing services, is being spun off by its parent, General Motors Corp. Its card operation serves 1,600 credit unions and 300 banks with 16 million total accounts, placing EDS third behind First Data Corp. and Total System Services Inc.
Harold Hendrickson, Berwyn's president, said his company has three clients and fewer than 10,000 accounts.