The musician and prepaid card seller Russell Simmons has taken issue with how his RushCard card has been portrayed in recent media reports, requesting retractions from two publications.
However, some of the elements that Simmons called misleading — in particular, how two publications described his cards' fees — appear to have been accurate.
Simmons, who founded the prepaid card marketer UniRush LLC, criticized The Washington Post and Bloomberg BusinessWeek for their descriptions of his company's cards in articles about the regulatory reform bill's exemption for prepaid cards from fee regulation.
Though the articles describe only the fees for UniRush's Monthly Plan cards, which charge a $9.95 monthly fee and transaction fees for certain activities, Simmons claims the articles made the cards seem more expensive by also including fees for the Pay As You Go Plan cards. "Describing both plans together is like saying that when you buy your car, you have to pay for it completely up front and then make monthly payments on it as well," Simmons said in a press release Friday.
Simmons had other complaints as well. He disliked being called out as the beneficiary of the exemption, claiming it actually "means more competition for my company." And despite marketing his products as prepaid cards, Simmons said the publications could have better described it as an "empowerment card," and said that "comparing it to a prepaid card is like comparing a car to a bicycle."
Bloomberg BusinessWeek quoted a Georgetown University Law professor, Adam Levitin, who said Simmons' card is "frankly exploitative of the poor and minorities … he's no different from a bank."
Simmons said the services attached to the cards offer users budgeting help, and noted that 56% of RushCard users say they have saved at least $300 a year by using the card and 30% claim to have saved more than $600 a year.