Branding a Blatantly Bad Deal: Dollar Loan Center

FacebookLinkedInTwitter

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:

Hmmm.  Dollar Loan Center also emphasizes its community involvement, commitment to financial literacy(!), and Mr. Brennan’s eleemosynary largesse fueled by the tremendous success of Dollar Loan Center in which he maintains majority ownership.

Payday Lenders also argue that loan APRs are an unfair comparative metric because these loans are designed to be “short term.” But having the theoretical option of paying off a loan is of course not the same as having the ability to do so.  Folks sufficiently impecunious or addled to agree to such loan terms a priori are unlikely to serendipitously find the resources to swiftly pay off the principal, let alone the accrued interest. And a recent study conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts belies the claim that the $7.2 billion borrowed annually through these financial instruments are primarily used for short term exigencies: Most borrowers use payday loans to cover ordinary living expenses over the course of months, not unexpected emergencies over the course of weeks. The average borrower is indebted about five months of the year.” Ooof.

The bottom line? No matter how cheerful the branding and polished the messaging, paying Dollar Loan Center (or another lender) almost 200% in annual interest when the Federal Funds Rate stands at 0.15% and the annual LIBOR stands at 0.90% is and will remain a super duper raw deal.

We will say this about Mr. Brennan and the fellow members of the “DLC Empire” — they throw a heck of a party. Here’s a clip from a recent Las Vegas Brennan bash featuring Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out.” Indeed.  Clearly not a lot of math being studied here:

watch The Boss Baby movie now

Now It’s Your Turn
FacebookLinkedInTwitter
Show all responses
  • M-Freeze
    Oct 24, 2012

    Despicable and outrageous. I know we love private sector in this nation but seriously someone has got to lookout for the consumer.

  • Flossanda Jones
    Oct 24, 2012

    This is a masterpiece of investigative journalism. Let us hope it receives wide publicity. It is a real public service.

  • Bruce Hungate
    Oct 27, 2012

    A drop of eleemosynary largesse amid a cauldron of iniquity. Frankly, I’m buffaloed.

Corporate Culture
Remote Working as a Cultural Phenomenon

Remote working is now an established cultural phenomenon. From a societal and organizational point of view, a successful remote working policy must be a cultural imperative at an organization, with an intentionality behind it that strives to mitigate factors that weaken remote-worker success, such as poor communication, a sense of detachment from the organization, inadequate […]

Learn More
Culture, Trends
Strategic Thinking at the Forefront of Smart Cities Dialogue in Atlanta

On May 7th and 8th, BrandCulture enjoyed joining the Georgia Technology Institute Smart Cities Dialogue held in Atlanta, GA. Hosts Debra Lam, Joseph Bankoff and Claire Angelle convened an exceptional and diverse group of government, industry and academic leaders for a series of insightful discussions centered on developing smarter communities that think critically about urban […]

Learn More
Corporate Culture
For Employee Onboarding There’s No Second Chance for Day One

Like it or not, humans are hardwired to draw conclusions from first impressions. How fast? Try 100 milliseconds—a tenth of one second. In personal and professional settings throughout the day, every day, people you meet for the first time are drawing conclusions about you—fairly or unfairly—in the blink of an eye. No wonder some rank […]

Learn More
Brand Strategy
Hannover Messe – Branding at the World’s Largest Industrial Conference

The  Hannover Messe conference in Germany is the world’s premier event dedicated to industrial products and services. Think Siemens and its transportation systems, larger-than-life robots, machines that make machines and industrial internet platforms. Some quick facts: the annual 5-day event is held in Hannover, Germany, with over 215,000 visitors and 6,000 exhibitors. Filling nearly 30 […]

Learn More

Ready to talk about how your brand and culture can do more for your business?

Let's talk
Let's talk