The MoneySaving Forum: join to chat & swap tips with other MoneySavers. Learn how in the Forum Introduction Guide

The Lords mustn’t miss the chance to treat payday ads like gambling or alcohol

The Lords mustn't miss the chance to treat payday ads like gambling or alcohol

The Lords mustn't miss the chance to treat payday ads like gambling or alcohol

Payday lenders want to financially groom the next generation of borrowers. They’ve plastered their adverts on children’s TV channels and family TV shows, used puppets and kid-friendly slogans, and even had people in Disney-esque costumes handing out lollipops in the streets.

These ads pressurise parents with pester power

This is a danger for our entire society. It pressurises parents with pester power, in our poll one in three parents reported that their under-10s had repeated payday loan slogans, and 14% shockingly said that when they had refused to buy something, their under-10 nagged them to go to a payday lender.

One five-year-old even asked for money from Wonga as a Christmas present from his parents. This is no surprise, as the number of these adverts seen by children increased from 3 million to 596 million in the four years to 2012 alone.

They normalise this niche lending for the next generation

Yet more damaging is the fact that they normalise this type of niche borrowing for the next generation – inuring them to the livelihood damage this type of high-cost lending can cause.

The House of Lords has a chance to stop this

That’s why this Wednesday we need members of the House of Lords to grab the opportunity to back an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill which would put restrictions on payday loan advertising, similar to those for gambling, alcohol, tobacco and junk food.

Specifically, it would ban payday TV and radio ads before the 9pm watershed – according to Ofcom research, this is when the majority of such ads are broadcast. A second amendment would stop firms cold calling people to offer payday loans.

Many of us have been campaigning on this for years, naming and shaming the payday lenders. Thankfully that pressure has started to have an impact – for example, payday lender poster boy Wonga has pulled its puppet adverts and is taking its sponsor logo off children’s Newcastle United replica shirts.

Yet this isn’t enough. There’s a lot of unprincipled money being spent in this area – and we can’t rely on lenders’ goodwill, we need legislation to cut it dead and protect our children.

Those whose job is to protect young people’s interests are vocally behind this too – the Children’s Society is a prime lobbyist for this ban and a joint report between it and debt charity StepChange recently showed how family debt causes children to suffer from worry and anxiety, experience bullying and miss out on the basics of life.

A third of children surveyed by the Children’s Society found payday loan adverts to be fun, tempting or exciting – and this group were much more likely to say they would consider using a payday loan in the future. 

The growth of the payday loan industry is frightening. It didn’t exist at any scale seven years ago. It’s a self-manufactured industry built by technology, marketing and advertising. It has made billions based on lending without a care, at wince-worthy cost, regardless of affordability, and snatching back cash heedless of the effect on the borrower. 

Thankfully some of the industry’s nastiest tricks – such as using recurring payments to snaffle every penny coming into people’s bank accounts day after day – have been regulated away. However, the Government’s sloth, failure to heed warnings and laissez-faire market policy means millions have already been burnt. Its belated but welcome regulatory volte-face only came after campaigners and other parties started making political capital by attacking such lenders.

Since then the regulator has kicked into action – write-offs of millions by Wonga as part of the supposed cleaning up of its act, fines for sending threatening fake lawyers’ letters and thankfully, soon, new limits on charging, though these are not quite as stringent as I’d have preferred as people still risk paying back twice the amount borrowed. 

Of course, you can’t solely blame irresponsible lending – we need responsible borrowing too. This year financial education joined the English National Curriculum and that should help, but it’ll take time. And it won’t help adults who already lack financial capability, are vulnerable or have mental health or capacity issues.

We also need to promote alternative ethical borrowing – through credit unions, using (the sadly much-reduced) Government Social Fund loans, and of course, better budgeting to avoid the need in the first place. 

The Church of England has valiantly vowed to try and compete lenders out of business by opening credit unions in churches. However, much payday lending is a technology play as well as financial, targeting people’s impulses (sometimes late at night when they are drunk watching gambling programmes) for instant cash.

The Church can’t, and won’t, compete with that. Nor should it offer to lend to people who can’t afford to repay. But some payday lenders do, knowing they can use hard-core tactics to get money back.

So we cannot allow the good being done in financial education and capability work to be wiped out by powerful multimillion pound payday loan ad campaigns. We’re already at a dangerous point in the growth of payday loans – if it goes on unchecked, just imagine the dystopian future in 10 years.

50 word responsesLogin via facebook
Full MSE Forum Discussion

Comment via Facebook login

This is an open discussion; anyone can post. Comments may be edited, and are only published during the working day.
Please report any spam, illegal, offensive, racist, libellous posts (inc username) to fbteam@moneysavingexpert.com

A staggering 10,000,000 now on the Martin’s Money Tips weekly email list – thank you

A staggering 10,000,000 now on the Martin's Money Tips weekly email list

A staggering 10,000,000 now on the Martin's Money Tips weekly email list

In 2002 I began to send tips to my friends, as and when I spotted a good deal, and jokingly used the subject line ‘Martin’s Money Tips’. It went to about 40 people and it was only done when I discovered some info I couldn’t use in my then Sunday Express column, or on Open House with Gloria Hunniford.

 

A couple of months later I was at a party and people I’d never met before were thanking me for the emails. It turned out my friends were forwarding it to their friends (this was before most people had heard of the word ‘viral’).

To make it easier, I set up an email list built around a basic homepage so anyone could get the info.

The email grew quickly and soon hit 1,000 recipients. I decided the site had potential to help me promote my journalism work, so I paid a web designer in Uzbekistan £100 to design a more professional version. This was launched on 22 February 2003, which I count as the moment this site was born.

Fast forward to yesterday when…

The 10,000,000th email address was opted into the weekly email list. Quite simply a staggering number. I can quite genuinely tell you I never thought it’d get this big, in fact this is a quote from my 1,000,000 receiving the email blog in 2007:

“As I mentioned to the MSG on Saturday, I actually felt a little depressed, I’m now not sure what the target should be. I’m very numbers driven, as I’ve discussed in a past blog. I am obsessed by looking at the email list graph. Now I don’t really know what to do. The next obvious target is 10,000,000 yet actually I believe that’s beyond the capacity of any website, as it’s simply too high a proportion of web adults. So what do I base it on next? Without a number to go for I’m slightly lost –- stupid really as I should be over the moon, but being the slightly nerdy chap I am, I don’t know where to go next. Suggestions welcome.”

NB. For those wondering, the MSG was the ‘Money Saving Girlfriend’ – who I now refer to (in blogs – not in person) as Mrs MSE – and of course this was long before Baby MSE came along.

I still write the email personally most weeks (it says when it’s not me) and I go through every word, though now I’ve a big and talented editorial team working with me and doing the research, writing the guides, and making creative decisions. But they’ll tell you I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to the email, quite pedantic, change a lot (too much in their eyes) and am an all over email diva.

Yet I hope that’s paid fruition, the progression has been truly remarkable…

The growth stats

For my fellow stats nerds here’s the progress chart for the weekly email (it includes links to the waybackmachine. However sometimes images go missing from old versions of the site, so to help improve that, I may have linked to version of the site that are a few days off).

  • August 2002… Home Page. I launched the site as a personal home page… See what it looked like.
  • 22 February 2003… The Site’s Birth. I had the site developed into the first version of what it is today… See what it looked like.
  • 25 April 2003… 10,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
  • 11 January 2004… 50,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
  • 30 July 2004… 100,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
  • 28 April 2005… 250,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
  • 3 March 2006… 500,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
  • 24 February 2007… 1,000,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
  • 20 April 2008… 2,000,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
  • 19 September 2008… 2,500,000 on the email list. See what it looked like.
  • 20 August 2010… 5,000,000 on the email list See what it looked like.

As I’ve explained in past blogs 10 million email addresses doesn’t equate to 10 million people. Some are duplicates and some are duds. We send to around 7.7 million live emails a week. I just use the total figure as it’s the most consistent for long term progression and I didn’t have other measures in the earlier days, so the next target is perhaps to be sending to 10 million live addresses. Even so this is quite a momentous day for the site.

I’d like to thank all the amazing advocates there are for the site out there. I constantly meet people who tell me they go on about MSE (and sometimes bore their friends to death) and recommend the email and the site. The team and I really appreciate that. It’s one thing to be passionate about your work, it’s a true accolade when many others share it. So thank you x 10,000,000.

50 word responsesLogin via facebook
Full MSE Forum Discussion

Comment via Facebook login

This is an open discussion; anyone can post. Comments may be edited, and are only published during the working day.
Please report any spam, illegal, offensive, racist, libellous posts (inc username) to fbteam@moneysavingexpert.com

Why David Cameron writing for MoneySavingExpert is not ‘bonkers’, ‘biased’ or ‘showing your true colours’

Why David Cameron writing for MoneySavingExpert is not  “bonkers”, “biased” or “showing your true colours

Why David Cameron writing for MoneySavingExpert is not “bonkers”, “biased” or “showing your true colours

According to some on Twitter today I’ve been "duped". That’s because David Cameron has written a guest piece for the site called ‘We will give pensioners security and dignity’. He asked if he could do it and we said, "why not?" After all, part of what MoneySavingExpert.com is about is providing a forum for people to engage in the big discussions and debates on consumer finance policy. 

Yet predictably there was the classic backlash. Here’s just a selection of some of the (nicer) anti-comments. I’ve picked the twitter ones as they’re shorter. Of course there were many who were supportive and found it interesting too…

  • @newviv: "@MartinSLewis I don’t approve of @David_Cameron using your website as a political platform."
  • @mheave: "@MartinSLewis @David_Cameron shame on you Martin. This man is vile, pernicious and plain evil to those struggling you try to help #irony."
  • @BillyWits: "Political spinning. You’ve been used Martin, the [obscenity deleted] has used you as you are perceived as trusted."
  • @harriet1dog: "I thought your site was meant to be impartial not a party political broadcast, is it Nigel Farage next week?"
  • @exnhsnurse1: "DC blog is party political broadcast. You are being used because you are a trusted source of financial advice."
  • @meljhenderson: "I can’t believe you’ve let him use this great website as a political platform. #disgraceful"
  • @mathewtedwards: "I think this is a BIG mistake! My constructive criticism would be to politely tell @David_Cameron you have reconsidered."

Yet many people when I responded were unaware of the wider context, some hadn’t actually read the blog, just responded to the fact Cameron was writing. This isn’t new, it isn’t biased, we have regularly offered oppportunities for senior politicians of all parties to write guest pieces for the site. (The only reason Ed Milliband hasn’t appeared is because we asked his team for a piece on energy and he didn’t seem keen; we have also asked for his comments on this issue today.)  

Here’s a list of just some of our past guest bloggers below. We’re also open to more guest pieces from senior politicians of all major parties (and it’d be nice to some get from SNP or Plaid Cymru too), as well as regulators and policymakers.

So, we haven’t been duped, what we have done, like many national newspapers also do, is provided a forum for important individuals who can change policy to try and justify their position, explain what they are planning to do and provided, within our own forum, a place for people to discuss it and give feedback about those issues. 

I consider that to be an important part of engagement with the political process within our MoneySaving community, which has 15 million monthly users. 

We are incredibly careful not to indicate in any way what our position is on these subjects. These are for the politicians to engage in. I think it is a perfectly decent way to behave – after all most national newspapers which do it tend to be biased towards an agenda. 

Our site’s stance is strictly apolitical. We do it as a form of engagement. We have even in the past done the MSE Leaders debate, where we asked all the parties for their views on key matters to consumers. 

So for those having a go, I think perhaps you needed to have done your research first.

50 word responsesLogin via facebook
Full MSE Forum Discussion

Comment via Facebook login

This is an open discussion; anyone can post. Comments may be edited, and are only published during the working day.
Please report any spam, illegal, offensive, racist, libellous posts (inc username) to fbteam@moneysavingexpert.com

It seems an ISA is nicer than a NISA – so we’re going to call them ISAs

It seems an ISA is nicer than a NISA – so we're going to call them ISAs

It seems an ISA is nicer than a NISA – so we're going to call them ISAs

Last March in the Budget, the Chancellor announced ISAs were to become new ISAs, or NISAs. The main changes were a bigger £15,000 limit, the ability for all of it to be cash savings (so more than doubling the tax-free savings cash limit in effect) and the ability to convert old shares ISAs into cash ISAs.

The new language of this was to call it a cash NISA – partly I suspect so the government could claim create for creating something new. When this started in July, we accordingly changed the name of our guides and started using the new language, as did many (N)ISA providers.

Yet the name hasn’t caught on, it’s confused many people and HMRC tells us "ISA is the correct term to use in line with HMT Regulations and HMRC Guidelines. NISA is purely a marketing/product/publicity term."

So from now, I’ve decided MoneySavingExpert.com is going to revert back to calling it the good old ISA (see the newly renamed Top cash ISAs and Top cash ISA transfer guides) and we suspect gradually over the next year to see everyone else who called it a NISA to retrench too.

50 word responsesLogin via facebook
Full MSE Forum Discussion

Comment via Facebook login

This is an open discussion; anyone can post. Comments may be edited, and are only published during the working day.
Please report any spam, illegal, offensive, racist, libellous posts (inc username) to fbteam@moneysavingexpert.com

Shame on you Virgin – using a hokey-cokey marketing trick to spam you

Shame on you Virgin – using a hokey-cokey marketing trick to spam you

Shame on you Virgin – using a hokey-cokey marketing trick to spam you

Richard Branson’s Virgin brand is supposed to pride itself on treating its customers right.

Whether it lives up to it in practice is open to question, but I was shocked to see what I suspect is a deliberate attempt by the Virgin Atlantic credit card to befuddle consumers into signing up to its marketing, effectively a spammer’s charter.

I’ve written before about firms attempting to do this, see Is the Post Office playing fair over its marketing list? This is all about what I’m calling a hokey-cokey trick, deliberately changing whether the click means to opt in or to opt out.

The following is a print screen from its credit card application form…

Shame on you Virgin – using a hokey-cokey marketing trick to spam you

As you can see, you have to change whether you need to opt in, opt out (or shake it all about) depending on your preferences for each line.  While they’re within the letter of the law by ensuring it’s written clearly, this is a trick to catch out people filling the forms in quickly. I suspect they’ve done A-B testing and discovered this has a higher sign-up rate.

All very well, but giving people communications due to confusing forms, when they don’t want it, is spam.

Do you agree?

50 word responsesLogin via facebook
Full MSE Forum Discussion

Comment via Facebook login

This is an open discussion; anyone can post. Comments may be edited, and are only published during the working day.
Please report any spam, illegal, offensive, racist, libellous posts (inc username) to fbteam@moneysavingexpert.com