French bank offers women handbag insurance

LIONEL LAURENT
Last updated 14:22 10/08/2012

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What does every woman want? One French bank thinks it knows the answer: Handbag insurance and a handyman hotline.

The pink-and-gold-coloured "Pour Elle" bank card, part of a cut-price summer offer by Paris-based lender Societe Generale, promises to "simplify" women's lives with up to 200 euros (NZ$300) of handbag theft insurance and a dedicated hotline for up to two electrician, locksmith or other handyman callouts per year.

As useful as these products might be, not all women are happy to be singled out by their bank as needing special help.

"It's a little cheeky to promote both at the same time as 'female crises' that could arise," said Lys-Aelia Hart, a 24-year-old assistant art buyer living in Paris. "In my eyes, many men don't know how to deal with a serious electrical issue - on the contrary, they'd probably get killed."

A spokeswoman for SocGen said the cards had been a "great success" and said the bank did not view them as sexist. "We don't think it's a discriminatory approach," she said. "Those who choose these cards are those who wish to adhere to their femininity."

Even men aren't shy about signing up for the card, added the spokeswoman. "Five percent of cardholders are men," she said.

Despite the noble intentions, the card still looks to some like a misguided attempt to cater to women's needs.

"I don't need my bank to dictate what kind of services I need, but it's kind of them to offer," said Hart.

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- Reuters

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