The comic by Kevin C. Pyle Captive Market starts with a mother and her young son boarding a bus to visit the boy's father in prison. As they board, the mother turns to an older woman and says, "This one can't wait to see his daddy. A few phone calls a week just aren't enough"
The older woman responds, "Phone Calls!? Don't get me started. Can't believe what Securus charges for a phone call. And on top of that, every time I need to add more money to my Securus account, Western Union charges me almost 12 bucks!"
"Weird," the mother responds. "My mom uses Western Union to fund her GTL account so my sister in the jail can call us. But Western Union only charges her $6.95."
Another man on the bus chimes in, "Y'all both paying too much. I use the website and my credit card. Only costs me $3.00."
"Credit card?" the older woman responds. "Most people I know don't have bank accounts! " (Footnote: The Federal Reserve reports that 13 million people, largely low-income and people of color, are completely "unbanked.") The comic cuts to the older woman making a Western Union payment and she continues, "All I know is that for every $50 I add to my Securus account, I have to pay Western Union $11.95. That's another hour of work for me just to pay that fee! Don't know who gets that money."
The comic cuts to two businessmen working at Securus. The first businessman says, "Hey, I have an idea. Is there a way to make profit on both the calls and they payment fees?
The other man responds, "Sure! We can charge high fees for website payments and credit cards on the phone. Not sure about Wester nUnion though. Lots of people use that but we don't set those fees."
The first businessman responds, "Who says we can't ask Western Union to charge a higher fee and share the extra profit back with us?"
The second businessman responds, "I don't see why not. After all, we've got a captive market."
The comic ends by cutting back to the older woman walking sadly away from a Western Union location.