Alan Dee: What drives money junkies to turn to a Wonga fix?
The global brands, desperate to stay firmly in the public eye and with the cash to spare to sign up to these deals, tend to make their money with a cold eye on the bottom line and not a great deal of consideration for the damage they may leave in their wake.
I dare say that tobacco firms would grab the chance if they were still allowed, although there’s no ban on booze companies as far as I can work out and drinks brand sponsorship has fallen by the wayside in recent years.
That’s probably because the sponsors who now dominate, such as online gambling firms, are making so much cash from our weaknesses without the need to actually produce a product and incur those pesky overheads that they can pay over the odds for the honour.
Which brings us to payday loan firm Wonga, which you may have seen has increased the interest rate it uses to illustrate the cost of borrowing to the misguided mugs who decide to make use of its services.
It has to be said for the record that the actual rate of interest hasn’t increased, it’s just that the illustration has been revised to give a clearer picture of what you’re letting yourself in for if you sign on the dotted line.
Now if someone offered me a short-term loan at 5,853 per cent I would do a sharp about turn and work out some other way of struggling on – but there must be millions who don’t.
The genius of Wonga, it has to be admitted, is the friendly brand name, the cuddly adverts and the clever way in which the harmless term ‘payday loan’ has sneaked its way into our language as an alternative for legal loan sharking.
The temptation of a payday loan is as obvious, and as perilous, as the temptation of a heroin hit.
The vast majority of us would never contemplate such a step or find ourselves in circumstances in which it would even be considered, but if you’ve got a pile of problems it’s deceptively easy to take that first hit. Some people can handle it, I’m sure. Some will be able to take it or leave it alone.
But many will get hooked, and from then on it’s a downward spiral.
There are charities who can give advice, there are credit unions, there are all sorts of alternatives to putting yourself at the mercy of the monstrous interest rates that payday loan firms are allowed to charge.
There may be no legislation in sight to control these firms, but at the end of the day the simple answer is the one that you’re urged to use whenever something superficially attractive but potentially addictive is on the table: Just say no. You know it make sense.