I hate the WONGA puppets. Partly, that’s just because the nightmare inducing little monsters creep me out. But mainly I hate them because they keep popping up in my inbox, asking me if I want to win a PS4 or join their ‘social site’. I want to tell them to grow up, remind them that they’re advertising a serious financial service rather than a bottle of Pepsi, yell at them to leave me alone – yes, I know they aren’t real, but when they’re sending you emails titled ‘we miss you’, it’s hard not to react personally.
These are loans. They are products that people should be taking after careful consideration, if there is a need and if it is appropriate to their circumstances – not because they have been emotionally blackmailed into it, or because they were ‘referred by a friend’ as part of a cheap advertising gimmick.
The poorly regulated pay day lending industry is already devastating many lives. High living costs and low wages are making it harder for people to reach the end of the month – and the only solution they see advertised is the cuddly cartoon face of the payday lender. And, in one of the worst regulated pay day lending markets on earth, those creepy puppets are turning, Chucky style, into a nightmare for desperate people.
This is just one of the reasons I joined Shark Stoppers. The national campaign for better regulation of pay day lenders has already changed the law – we recently got both Labour and George Osborne to commit to a cap on the cost of credit, and putting an end to the free-for-all that allows unscrupulous companies to bleed people dry. But, unfortunately, the extortionate cost of credit is only one of the issues with payday lenders in the UK.
So as one of our next objectives, Shark Stoppers is lobbying for an Advertising Standards Code specifically for Pay Day Lenders. And I was hoping some of you would like to be involved.
What would you like to see included in this code of conduct? Have you received direct marketing from payday lenders? Do your children ever mention pay day lenders, or the adverts and promotions they run?
Any input will be gratefully received, and could lead to genuine change. Thank you.