an offer you can’t refuse?

The Ermine household took a wander into town, on the lookout for a point and shoot digicam for Mrs Ermine. Savvy shoppers are going to immediately think – first mistake, wtf are they going into town for this, the best deals are always on the Internet? Well, yes, but DW is exacting on the size she wants of a P&S, and to get to know that you have to touch it and handle it. We started off at Cash Converters, it’s my favourite store for heavy stuff secondhand.You can’t help feeling that the Dark Side is taking over round these parts, however.

Are you sure that typo on the ad shouldn’t read “a loan of £666″, Mr Cash Converters? Is this the power of competition with The Money Shop next door?

I bought our PA amplifier there for £30, secondhand from a pub. I’ll probably get our PA speakers there as well. They are variable on small electronics – I’d say they are overpriced a bit.

Cash Converters. Bet they don’t have ‘don’t be evil’ in their mission statement

Cameras of the sort we wanted (compact, IS) seemed to roll up at the £50 mark. The problem with this is a P&S camera lives on borrowed time. The action of the lens coming out sucks in dirt, which either gums up the lens mechanism or gives you dust spots on the sensor. You just don’t know how a secondhand P&S has been kept, so we had a look at the new market to see if this risk is worth taking. Checked out a couple of stores on prices, a Panasonic DMC-LS5 wasn’t bad at about £70.

Then you get the smartphone out, a Samsung G2 in DW’s case, to establish whether the price is right. Since the web browser on a smartphone is worthless for finding anything out 1 you curse the bugger and remember the county library is nearby. For the first time I got to use the Web in the library, after removing the JSA instructions left by the previous user from the table. The camera price was sort of okay, not fantastic.

We then went to Jessops, who had a Canon 117HS for ~£80. Apparently, this is the same as a Canon 115 HS but the different model number. This is a scam so Jessops can avoid price comparison sites. Some investigation on the web showed £80 wasn’t bad for this. Yes, it’s £30 more than a secondhand digicam, but the year’s worth of guarantee for what is inherently an unreliable product has some value (cash converters warranties for a month ISTR).

So we asked them if we could fire it up and check it out. Consternation in the ranks, and we were informed that there wasn’t a battery or charger, though these could be purchased. The Ermine voiced, perhaps a little loudly, that this was therefore a scam, it wasn’t £80 they wanted, but £80 plus the £20 cost of the essential parts to get a working camera. The sticker price was deliberately misleading. Anyway, the shop-assistant went back to see if they could find a battery, and a chap came back, and DW took over the negotiation.

the haul, I’m glad I didn’t throw out the charger from the last Ixus

The upshot was that she paid £85 for the camera, with a hahnel battery charger, hahnel aftermarket battery, camera case priced at £16 and a three year extended warranty. The Ermine is still not quite sure how that happened, as I’m sure the 3-year warranty was originally quoted as £20. Normally I don’t touch extended warranties, but for a product class which has a known unreliability problem it has some appeal. Particularly if they throw in a case, and drop the extra to £5 which seems a little bit less usurous. Okay, so the 12V power supply of the charger didn’t work, though the charger did. I have enough 12V supplies, and indeed it so happened that we still had the battery charger for the previous Canon Ixus so no big deal ;)

More offers you can’t refuse. The Ermine is too poor to get a loan from the Money Shop these days

You know you’re on the wrong side of the tracks with Cash Converters. It isn’t just the gold ads, it’s the fact they’re right next to a Money Shop. You’d have thought the Ermine is right up their street, no job, no income, what’s not to like? Hey, that sort of thing used to get you a NINJA mortgage in the bad old days!

 

Bank card and a job? £1000 can be yours

Well, hot damn, no £1000 today for me. Got bank card but no job, so The Money Shop ain’t talking to me today ;) Psst, got a Rolex? What’s up with that. Firstly, if you have a real Rolex or Breitling are you going to be hob-nobbing with the riff-raff in the Money Shop rather than the sort of pawnbroker with a top-hat and three gold balls outside his shop, and secondly if you are a likely client of the Money Shop your Rolex was probably £5 at the local car boot sale, no?

So, thoroughly dejected at being not good enough for the services of The Money shop, I carried on, to observe yet another offer I couldn’t refuse

Borrow £100 for £125? hell, YEAH!!!! Why Not? bring it on

Why would I want to do that to myself? Really? Borrow £100 and pay back £125? Do I get fries with that? It wouldn’t be so bad if I got my dodgy motor fixed all inclusive, but no. I’ve kept this photo full size, if you look at the small print at the bottom you get to see

Representative 1410.33% APR … Interest Rate 300% p/a fixed

Who are this bunch of criminals and charlatans then? Say a warm welcome to the usurers at the Cheque Centre, impecunious citizens of Ipswich

At least they can spell. It’s the Cheque Centre over here, rather than the Check Center….

They’re actually recruiting at the moment. I was half tempted to go in and hit them up for a job, just to see what sort of punters come in to buy £100 worth of notes for £125. However, I’d probably discover a whole bunch of people who want to kill me, because even the Cheque Centre must have some criteria for lending.

Let’s remind ourselves of what they are offering me. I go in today, with an urgent need of Stuff, so I get a load of these

£100, waiting to be turned into booze, Harry Wraggs and Sky TV vouchers

I turn them into beer, Sky TV minutes and harry rags

to come back later, having had to work 25% longer to earn this lot to hand back and call it quits

£125 – so paying 25% more is a great deal because I couldn’t wait a month?

Whatcha say to that sort of offer? What other answer is there other than Hell No! If ever it looks a good idea to you to pay 25% for 30 days, then STOP RIGHT THERE. Sit on your hands. Think. Stop buying shit. Let the kids scream I wanna have, I wanna have,  I wanna have for all they’re worth. Because when this looks like a good deal you are in a deep hole, and rule#1 in a hole is Stop Digging.

There are a lot of offers you should refuse in this town at the moment!

Notes:

  1. that’s why you have apps on a smartphone, to munge the data to suit the poxy little low-resolution screen, old stagers will remember it as what was hi-tech EGA graphics in the mid 1980s.

“Whatcha say to that sort of offer? What other answer is there other than Hell No!”

Hell, no! We won’t borrow!

Could be the iconic slogan for a new refusnik generation. Not holding my breath though ;-)

@Ermine- You’ve set me off now – so no apologies for the following………….
I do some work with CAB and see people of all ages who are desperate, really and truly desperate.
Some are working (2/3 part time jobs sometimes)some are not (elderly and single parents in the main.)There’s a mix of ‘educated’ and uneducated, lower and middle socio-economic groups,ages and ability/capability.
Most (admittedly not all) are victims (yes-victims)of circumstances over which they have little or no control- There but for the grace of a god……….
In MHO, there is a two pronged attack on these desperates:-
The first is the current economic climate:- Forget how we got here – decades of ‘loadsamoney’ mentality, borrow not save etc etc- we are where we are. Some people followed this mantra -some did not. However, current interest rates are/have depleted savings and are no incentive to save up to buy something. There is no access to cheaper credit at the banks unless you’re already star rated.
Real Inflation rate is probably double the official rate. With no capital it’s hard to take advantage of bulk buy, travel to discount warehouses- the corner shop is it for many with no transport. Gas & electric? I don’t have to tell you……….
The second is the Benefits and Tax system . Yes I know there’s a lovely Gov website- if you’ve got access to a computer and/or have the capability to weave your way in and out of it. For most, they need a real person to explain their entitlement. Imagine my surprise when a job centre person told me they weren’t allowed to do this now and places like Age Concern would do it!!!!The CAB office is next door to the Job centre(guess who are our main customers.)This coupled with (for the most part) people’s embarrassment and sense of shame at having to ask for a ‘handout’ leave many at the mercy of these payday loansharks and pawn sharks. (The Shameless programme has a lot to answer for.)
How have these sharks been allowed to grow so prevalent and big? Wonga is talking about floating on the stock market next year. There’s a reason they advertise with puppets in the image of old people. It is made more respectable and easy for old people to get their money here than from the DH.
Believe me-they are not buying stuff with it-that’s gone to the pawn shark. They’re paying utility bills before the man comes round.
Where are the ads for Credit Unions where people save regularly but then have access to reasonable credit?
I want to shoot all the loan sharks and the big banks who won’t deal with their small customers.
That’s my rant over- I feel better now.
P.S. I wouldn’t describe myself as a bleeding heart liberal. I just know when something is wrong and these payday sharks are wrong.

@Macs, good T-shirt design, yo should get it on Cafepress ;)

@Romany, top rant! OK hands up the Sky TV and fags was a cheap shot. I’ve never seen Shameless so I don’t have the context. I think we agree that the payday sharks are out of order.

Where I struggle is the “victims of circumstances”. I grew up in an world of credit controls, where people, even poor people, saved. They saved because they expected and anticipated trouble, they didn’t usually save in banks but in cash in biscuit tins. To support this general observation I’d cite this NIESR report Fig 3 page 16, accepting that the rise in GDP will lead to some slow downwards pressure over time.
People expected the unexpected, or at least they did until 1980. Britain has also historically had self-help mutual societies, again, where people collectively saved against individual hardships.
Britain in the 2010s is still far richer than than it was in the few decades before. Something has gone very wrong with our individual forward planning now compared to previous decades. Until we relearn the lost art of anticipating rainy days we’re going to be stuck with loan sharks. In the end the banks don’t lend money according to need, but according to whether they expect to get their money back. I don’t expect to be able to borrow money from anyone. It’s a bonus if I can, but it isn’t a God-given right. FWIW I am all for credit controls, as some function of income. That would sort loan sharks out. Wilkins Micawber was right; spend less than you earn – there really is no other way.

>I think we agree that the payday sharks are out of order.

Up to a point. I would like to see more official encouragement of credit unions and friendly societies, but I don’t think it follows that legal payday loan companies should be axed. They fulfil a need by limiting the influence of the illegal sector which is really nasty.

Instead, they need to better regulated, be made to pay realisitic fines for consumer law infringement (e.g., sloppy ID checks) and be forced to advertise only with official wealth warnings.

Totally with ermine on the Micawber principle. If you do not prepare for the future, the one you get will not be nice.

Credit unions are brilliant – for people who already have some financial structure in their lives. But many of them are part-time, member-run organisations who are only open on the third Thursday of the month (or whatever) and so cannot possibly compete with the allure of a payday lender who has a 24-hour ‘virtual’ shopfront and can get the money into your bank account within a hour. So I fear we need to stop pretending that credit unions are the answer for most of the people who go to short-term lenders like these. It’s not great, but that’s how it is…

re the camera : this is shown on Jessops website as “charger included”, and given its not your bog standard battery pack either it would seem odd not to sell it without the charger! I do wonder if this was an “open box” item / or demo model which is the real reason why you got the big discount?

Credit Unions, although they do a good job of taking on the admin cost burden of “rats and mice” accounts aren’t a a permanent solution – BTW an Australian term for small accounts which is deprecated as “non-PC” but isn’t as pejorative as folk think if you are aware the sort of rodents found in that part of the world store food for later.. (although the Norway Rat does as well, not sure about mice)

but as Jane says they cannot offer the same service levels and most are just reselling the services of Co-Op or Triodos Bank.

Ipswich’s Credit Union has the dubious honour of being one of the (presumably very few) to get robbed by one of its own volunteers who went rogue(the aptly named Mr Pain!) He got nicked and sent down and no one lost money but it shows bad apples can get in anywhere…

http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/ipswich_thief_jailed_after_lengthy_investigation_1_960054

@Romany – I completely agree with you! I was ranting how these blooming loan shark shops simply shouldn’t be allowed to operate they way they do. End of story. I was really interested to hear your stories from the CAB. Not good at all. I’m really shocked about the Job Centre not offering benefits advice. The people who need them most surely will need ready and sympathetic advice, no? Good grief.

 

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