A credit company that takes advantage of attractive interest rates of up to 1,575% has sparked outrage by calling for distressed borrowers to be thrown in jail.
Quick Loans was condemned as “stupid” after posting an article online saying debtor prisons should be making a comeback.
The company, in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, compared desperate families in debt to shoplifters and said: “It is time for justice to be done for responsible borrowers.
Director Graeme Wingate backed “Dickensian” remarks today when confronted by the Mirror – despite death threats and concerns from the Advertising Standards Authority.
But angry netizens called her business a “parasite” and claimed that she, not her customers, deserved to be locked up.
Phantom Chancellor John McDonnell told the Mirror: “The Conservatives’ low pay and poverty policies have created an economy dependent on household debt.
“Taking us back to the Dickensian period of debt prisons is not the answer.”
Money saving expert Martin Lewis called the company “contemptible b ******” and said his call “against all work to protect the vulnerable”.
Jane Tully of Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said: “This is an incredibly misjudged and deliberately provocative article from a company that appears to be trying to drive traffic to their website at all costs. .
“What’s worrying is that the article highlights some misconceptions about debt issues and the lives of people in financial difficulty that do not reflect the difficult and complex situations people face.
“For the people we help at National Debtline, we know that this is often a change in circumstances, such as job loss, poor health, or relationship breakdown that can lead to debt, circumstances that can affect all of us at some point in our lives.
“If this is really Quick Loans’ point of view, I would encourage the Financial Conduct Authority to take a close look at how it conducts its business and whether it is in line with what the regulator expects.”
Activist Sara Williams, who writes the Debt Camel blog, added that it was “the dumbest suggestion I’ve heard in years.”
Prisons for debtors were common in Victorian times and rose to prominence thanks to a campaign by Charles Dickens.
Oliver Twist’s author’s father was jailed for debt when Charles was just 12.
In an online article, Quick Loans said, “Debt and bankruptcy are getting out of hand. The more help there is, the more debt problems arise. That’s why we believe debt prisons are the answer again. “
The company argued that non-repayers increased the cost of credit for other borrowers because the “bad guys” applied without a repayment plan.
“It’s exactly the same effect that shoplifting has when someone doesn’t pay for their purchases. These costs are passed on to people who use the service legitimately,” the publication said.
The company admitted it was “technically illegal” to be jailed for civil debt in the UK, but said contempt of court laws should be “enforced” to put people behind bars.
“Think how satisfying it would be if your neighbor who always lives beyond his means, the one who has led the high life driving flash cars – we all know them – is taken to jail for a few years. months because it doesn’t make the refunds, ”the firm wrote.
Quick Loans boasts of being able to make a decision on a loan in one minute with rates of up to 1,575% APR.
The company, which says it stopped providing payday loans because a price cap made them too ‘hassle’, charges £ 366 in interest on a typical 11-month loan of £ 1,500.
The company was only founded in 2015 and has just nine employees and a small turnover, with a total accounts receivable amounting to £ 173,000 in 2017.
Confronted with the Mirror, director Graeme Wingate, 39, admitted to writing most of the post, saying, “We have writers here, but yes those are my words.”
He said he had received “quite a few death threats”, including from a person who wrote: “I hope you die very soon because it will be less painful than when we contact you.”
He also admitted to receiving a letter from the Advertising Standards Authority “asking us to remove everything” due to the “distress” caused.
Yet Mr Wingate, who said he did not report the death threats to police, maintained his comments widely condemned.
He said he would make exceptions for “people with illnesses and things like that where unforeseen circumstances have occurred.”
But he said: “It’s not something different from what is happening already. The BBC is doing it with the TV license, the council tax.”
He added: “No one is outraged when you say you are going to lock up shoplifters. Yes, their situation could be that they need these products to survive and feed their families. ‘they shouldn’t be punished for shoplifting. “
A spokesperson for the Advertising Standards Authority said: “I can confirm that we received a complaint about the message from Quick Loans calling for the return of debtors prisons, and we have contacted the advertiser regarding the content of the ad.
“Nothing has been resolved yet as we are awaiting a response from the advertiser.”