Monday, 19 November 2007

Trisha's producers respond on Brighthouse sponsorship

In response to messages left on Trisha's internet forums concerning the sponsorship of her show by Brighthouse (see previous post), the programme's production Company has made the following announcement:

"Some messages have been posted on our forum relating to the sponsor of the Trisha Goddard show on Five.Town House TV Productions makes the Trisha Goddard show but has nothing whatsoever to do with its sponsorship. Nor do we receive any financial gain from it. This is entirely a matter for the broadcaster, Five.If you wish you can contact them separately. You can raise your concerns by calling the customer services team on 0845 7 050505 or you can also email "

Debt on our Doorstep urges supporters to contact Five as directed and to report replies. However, given the fact that there is no 'financial gain' for Trisha from the sponsorship deal with Brighthouse we have asked that she make a statement distancing herself from the company and that she devote a programme to predatory lending and the problems that this causes in the future.

We have posted the following question on the Trisha TV forum:
"...Trisha is quoted in a Five press release as saying that she was delighted by the sponsorship deal with Brighthouse. Is Trisha now retracting that comment?".

Friday, 16 November 2007

Does Trisha really think Brighthouse are a good deal?

A reader informs us that Brighthouse are to sponsor the Trisha Goddard show on Channel 5 and that Trisha herself is reported as saying: “I am delighted we have teamed up with BrightHouse to sponsor my show. I relish the challenges involved in helping real people solve their problems in order to live better, more fulfilling, lives and it's great that BrightHouse share those aspirations.”

This, of course, is about a company that charges people on low incomes over £700 for a washing machine worth more like £300, and which ex-customers have prevoiusly reported uses aggressive, bully boy tactics to collect money from people in real financial difficulties.

Guy Hands, the multi-millionaire behind private equity firm Terra Firma Capital Partners which owns Brighthouse has already been featured in Debt on our Doorstep's newsletters in our Who's Who in Predatory Lending section. This is what a Dood supporter wrote about Brighthouse then:

"Me and my partner missed a payment near Christmas and when we went to pay up to date they said they needed a week in advance as well and refused to accept the payment. Since then we have taken the goods back which they never gave us any paperwork for and they are now saying they haven’t received these.

We weren’t given the choice about the ‘Optional Service Cover’ they said it was compulsory. We have been trying to sort out reduced instalments to pay our remaining items off as we have paid over three quarters of the total amount to them.

Today we got a knock on the door from two men in a white van saying they where from BrightHouse. One of them tried to climb the back fence and was only scared off because we have a dog. One man asked to come in. My partner and I refused entry so he called the other man to come over. They told me they needed an immediate payment of £5263.51. I told them I did not have the money but would willingly pay in instalments. He told me he would need to take the stuff from the property. I advised him he would need to get a court order. He told us that “we don’t know who we are messing with”. Eventually they left after sitting outside in the van for another half an hour. He also knocked so hard on the door we are having problems closing it since.”

On her website, Trisha has a forum for viewers to post comments. Tell her how you feel today.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Dood Calls on MEP's to protect UK consumers

No Downgrading of Consumer Protection in the EU – Consumer and Social Organisations protest the Latest Move of the Parliament on the Consumer Credit Directive

The European Coalition for Responsible Credit (ECRC) and Debt on our Doorstep (DooD) today issued calls for MEP’s to stand up for UK consumers and to resist the latest proposals to water down protections contained in the EU Consumer Credit Directive.

The move comes in response to a new draft of the Directive being introduced into the European Parliament by the Rapporteur, Mr. Kurt Lechner of the Internal Market and Consumer Affairs Committee.

Commenting on the new proposal Professor Udo Refiner, Chair of the ECRC said:

“Consumer organisations from fifteen European states have been shocked in recent days to find that a significant weakening of consumer rights is being suggested in the European Parliament. There has been no consultation with national parliaments or with consumer representatives, on this new draft of the Directive, which appears to have been drafted with the assistance of the credit industry.”

Damon Gibbons, Chair of Dood called on UK MEP’s to take action in the Parliament to protect UK consumers.

“We are calling for MEP’s to intervene and reject the new draft. There has been no debate in the UK on these issues, yet consumers here stand to lose valuable protections. This all comes at a time when there is an obvious need for greater responsibility in lending. The last thing we need from Europe is a green light for lenders to con UK borrowers.”

Full text of the media release and details of the proposed amendments can be downloaded here

Monday, 12 November 2007

Cash Converters take fright as Queensland accepts the need for rate caps

Payday lenders won't wear interest cap

From ABC Far North Queensland, 19th October 2007
By Derek Tipper

Payday lenders and financial counsellors disagree about the need for controls on interest charges on short-term loans, as the Queensland Government decides on the value of an interest rate cap.

Ever needed cash quickly and borrowed the money from a short-term lender? Whether you understand these transactions as payday loans or as the lenders prefer to call them, micro credit, chances are you paid back much more than the average $250 of the loan.

Each week borrowers need anywhere from $100 to $1000 to make ends meet. Spooked by stories of borrowers paying back $5000 on a $100 loan the Queensland Government is proposing to follow other states and cap the interest rate charged on these loans at 48 percent.

The move has the support of financial counsellors and consumer advocates like Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network general manager Aaron Davis. Mr Davis said many of his clients simply do not understand the concept of interest and are not capable of entering into a contract.

The industry is dead set against an interest cap. Rob Leggett, the Queensland President of the Financial Services Federation argues it would drive scrupulous operators out of the business of pay day lending because they simply couldn't make a profit. Mr Leggett said a cap was just bad business.

One of the biggest players in the industry, Cash Converters, is so concerned about a cap they have adopted a marginal seats campaign, lobbying 33 Queensland MPs whose electoral margins are smaller than the number of 11,000 signatures on a petition tabled in the Queensland Parliament opposing the proposed interest rate cap.

Cash Converters has also posted a video on You Tube purporting to depict customers supporting the need for payday lending, they also bought a full page ad in the Sunday Mail urging the government to reconsider.

Cash Converters General Manager Ian Day said a 48 percent cap would discriminate against low income earners and others who struggle to get credit. Mr Day said while scrupulous lenders oppose an interest cap they support regulation of the industry. But financial counsellors working with borrowers who get into trouble with these loans are not convinced.

David Tennant, chair of Australian Financial Counsellors and Credit Reform Association said claims by pay day lenders that a 48 percent interest cap makes their business unviable had not been borne out in the states, such as Victoria and New South Wales, where a cap already exists.
Mr Tennant said any lender that could not make a profit under a 48 percent interest rate cap should leave the industry.

ICAN'S Aaron Davis said there was an alternative to the current pay day lending products, with organisations offering interest free loans for the purchase of necessities. Queensland Attorney General Kerry Shine confirmed Queensland will have an interest rate cap but was not prepared to say what the interest rate would be.