by Debbie Harris — My mortgage company recently announced that it is changing its name. It’s leaving behind a general bank sounding name, you know, like Security Fidelity Trust American National We-Have-A-Safe-That-Can’t-Be-Cracked Bank to the name Mr. Cooper. Seriously? Maybe they feel their name sounds too institutional or perhaps it no longer inspires confidence. Ever since the bank bailout in 2008, banks’ reputations have taken a hit and people don’t trust them as much as they used to. So this bank is moving to what they see as a friendly, approachable name. Now the first of every month I need to pay Mr. Cooper so I can live in my house. If I want more money, I’m going to ask Mr. Cooper for a loan. (Do I look for a man wearing a trench coat lurking in a back alley.)
Will that really help people trust that financial institution more? What if customers had bad experiences with a Mr. Cooper? What if Mr. Cooper was your mean high school math teacher? The one who gave a 50 percent of your grade pop quiz on the day of your grandmother’s funeral and wouldn’t let you make it up? What if Mr. Cooper was a neighbor who played loud music, never mowed his lawn, had police-calling parties every Saturday night, let his dog run all over the neighborhood fertilizing, and stole your Amazon deliveries from your porch? Do you want that Mr. Cooper handling your money?
With all due respect to Mr. Cooper, why not Miss, Mrs., or Ms. Cooper? Are women less trustworthy than men? Women’s names seemed to work well for foods—Aunt Jemina and Mrs. Butterworth compete for real estate on your pancakes, Betty Crocker baking mixes and accessories help us provide cupcakes for the school fundraiser. Mrs. Fields soothes our PMS with cookies. “Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee” — or her pies and cakes. And Marie Callender feeds the entire family delicious fat-filled meals when we are too tired to cook. Apparently ladies’ names can make money, but they can’t handle our savings or grant us a loan. My mother even had a woman’s name as code for using the restroom. It was “visiting Aunt Matilda” (she only waltzes when things are urgent).
Mr. Cooper is a pretty bland name—like Smith, Jones, or Johnson. Why not something more ethnic? Set up an account with Mr. Delgado. Leave your money with Mr. Chang. Get your car loan from Mr. Yamaguchi. For the lowest rates in mortgages, go to Mr. Goldstein. Mr. Patel offers free pens with each new savings account. It still sounds kind of creepy, like an FBI sting operation.
I wonder how actual men named Cooper feel about a bank having their name. I know that several years ago, humor writer Dave Barry had a lot to say about a cigarette company planning to change their product name to “Dave” to make the product sound more friendly and inviting. Have a nicotine craving? Grab a Dave. That could cause some unexpected encounters for men named Dave. So will the average Mr. Cooper start being hit up for loans? Will all the Mr. Cooper employees have to change their last names? Will their main corporate branch be in Cooperstown?
I’ll have to answer all these questions later. I have to visit Aunt Matilda.