The car-loan interest rate lottery

By Felix Salmon
November 5, 2010
Anacott Financial, the scam credit card website which would spit out a completely random number when you asked it for your credit score? It seems that Capital One has taken a leaf out of their book when it comes to offering car-loan rates.

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Remember Anacott Financial, the scam credit card website which would spit out a completely random number when you asked it for your credit score? It seems that Capital One has taken a leaf out of their book when it comes to offering car-loan rates. Go ahead and visit this page using various different browsers: I got rates as low as 2.3% in Firefox, 2.7% in Safari, and 3.1% in Safari for iPad. J-Walk has found minimum rates as high as 3.5% using Explorer, which corresponds with what Devin found — he was the guy originally shopping for a car loan, who wrote up his experiences at the Capital One website and sent them in to Consumerist.

It seems there are four possible permutations here — 2.3%, 2.7%, 3.1%, and 3.5% — which get served up randomly when you visit that page. I’m all in favor of A/B tests, but this is meant to be serving up a simple statement of fact, and when the public discovers these things it hardly increases our level of trust in financial institutions. Someone at Capital One clearly put quite a lot of effort into this ostensibly-simple web page; I’d love to be a fly on the wall when that person gets asked questions by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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