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Home > Culture and Society

Debt's the way to do it

"A new kitchen; a family holiday; or maybe it's time you treated yourself to a new car..."

10 December 2003

This week, a former senior executive of the store card issuer GE Consumer Finance claimed that the firm's call centre staff had held competitions to see who could make the most customers cry. The company was also accused of withholding information about debt counselling and of harassing late payers with 'threatening' language.

Debt Avoidance Tips

1) Avoid debt by not borrowing money.

2) Only borrow money from loan companies that are endorsed by celebrities. That nice Carol Vorderman would never let them repossess your home.

3) If you're seriously in debt, there are plenty of organisations that can help you. Most hospitals will happily reset broken legs completely free of charge.

4) Sometimes it makes sense to take out a bank loan to cover credit card debts, allowing you to repay the money at a lower rate of interest. And reputable lenders such as high street banks definitely *won't* offer you 'a bit extra' to go on holiday, leaving you far deeper in debt than you were in the first place.

5) If you're heavily in debt, don't just hope the problem will go away. Arrange a meeting with your creditors to sort out a sensible, practical and realistic way to sell your first born child.

But the current horror story is just the tip of the iceberg. Average unsecured debt per person is up by £1,000 compared with five years ago, according to 'debt-sperts' Datamonitor. (Actually Datamonitor are 'market analysts', just to pre-empt the inevitable sniffy letter from them). Also over the past five years, bank overdraft debt has gone up 40%

In these strange times in which you can choose the picture on your credit card (as an aide memoire more people should choose a picture of a thug who lost his bouncer's job for drug dealing and now works for a debt reclamation agency) we tend to believe that earlier generations' fear of debt was excessive. And it was. Listening to older people going on about debt makes it sound as though getting a modest three piece suite on HP was the moral equivalent of offering £5 blow jobs to sailors.

But we can't help but wonder if credit culture has gone too far. Even if you're so hard up your staple diet is mouse droppings, hardly a week goes by without receiving junk mail offering you a credit card. And if you're a student, the temptation to combine fairy money with youthful irresponsibility will soon have you deeper in debt than Nick Leeson.

We would like to suggest some new credit cards for modern times...

Doley GoldCard

No job? No savings? Don't worry, the Doley GoldCard offers you an automatic credit limit of £38,000 (coincidentally the going rate for a healthy liver and two kidneys.) When you receive your GoldCard you are legally compelled to spend, spend, spend until you reach your £38,000 limit, whereupon two bailiffs with a box of ice and surgical instruments will turn up on your doorstep.

The Take My Home Card

Are you on a low income but desperately want to buy consumer items to claw back some of your self-respect (and happen to own your own home)? If so, the Take My Home Card has been cynically designed just for you. Why not buy that car you've always wanted? Or pay off your existing debts? Or go on holiday? Or even start your own business? You can do all of these and more. Now just hand over the deeds to your house and fuck off and find a cardboard box under a flyover.

The Deluded Student Monopoly Money Card

Are you a student who wrongly believes you'll walk out of university into a £100K job in the media? If so, the Deluded Student Monopoly Money Card offers an innovative service: £30,000 credit to pay your tuition fees and living expenses, plus another £50,000 to allow you to buy a laptop, DVD player, car and other student essentials and thus keep up with your richer peers. Your debts will easily be repaid by massive deductions from your £13K salary until you're 102.

The Desperation Card

The Desperation Card is designed for people who have no income, no property, no assets and a cat in Hellís chance of ever earning or repaying a substantial sum of money. However it does offer a staggering £200 of credit, enabling you to buy childrenís shoes and food, and which can be repaid in 100 easy instalments of £198, or with wedding rings, TVs, furniture, carpets, childrenís
toys etc.


Graduates, as usual, are suffering:

news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3068443.stm

(Scroll down to the comments - they make sobering reading).

Also: Cornwall, a county in debt:

news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cornwall/3037880.stm



Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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