When we set fingers to keyboard to excoriate First PREMIER Bank Platinum Mastercard for exorbitant fees and a 79.9% APR, we hoped it represented a low watermark for awful consumer credit offers. Unfortunately, we discovered a new ignominious winner: a 196.96% APR from Dollar Loan Center and dontbebroke.com.
We watched with some interest when a shuttered U.S. Bank branch recently reopened as a Dollar Loan Center just down Westwood Blvd. from BrandCulture HQ. Only time will tell, however, if this development portends a general decline in the financial stability of our neighborhood or an increase in denizens unwilling (or unable) to calculate simple interest.
Not that Dollar Loan Center encourages the practice. We received a piece of direct mail from Dollar Loan Center announcing its arrival as "YOUR COMMUNITY SHORT-TERM LENDER" along with the opportunity to procure $2,500 cash on the strength of our signature alone with "no hassles, no fouls[?], no fees" in less than an hour.
Dollar Loan Center bills itself as a fiscally responsible alternative to "Payday Lenders" and asserts the heartwarming headline, "It's like borrowing from family, but without the guilt," Come again? We don't know about your family, but it would be a pretty awkward Thanksgiving dinner if our family charged us the same $4,245.21 in interest Dollar Loan Center charges borrowers holding the $2,500 for its full 65-week term. This sure feels like being more broke vs. not broke, and for the record, we'd accept a whole bunch of familial guilt to avoid a financial hit that would put us that much deeper in hock.
Not surprisingly, Dollar Loan Center downplays its confiscatory cost of money, but instead makes the case that the "Signature Loan" product is actually great because it is less bad than the other even more egregious Payday Lenders. Here's entrepreneurial founder and larger-than-life, erstwhile rock and roll impresario CEO Charles C. "Chuck" Brennan:
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