August 16, 2011
If you’re running low on cash and need a quick fix, payday loans may seem like the most attractive option. Near-instant cash with no questions asked. However, interest rates are incredibly high it’s far too easy to fall into inescapable debt.
Guest blogger Steve Perry took out more than 60 individual payday loans over 18 months. Read about his struggle and how he eventually got out.
It’s funny, for a man who has so much to say against the payday loan industry that finding a way to start this article is proving exceptionally difficult. Where do I begin? Do I tell you that I’ve (literally) written the book on payday loans, When Payday Loans Go Wrong, released in September? Do I tell you that I am now an internet campaigner with my own website www.saynotopaydayloans.co.uk? Or do I tell you that at one point the culmination of 64 individual payday loans nearly killed me?
It all started way back in 2009 when I wanted to borrow some money to cover a short holiday away with my friends. I had been declined for bank loans, overdrafts and credit cards but I was determined to go away, because I’d worked hard that year and I wanted to see some of the fruits of my labour. Having been blocked off at every turn, the payday loan industry seemed to welcome me with open arms. It was so easy, just a quick and simple online application, minimum checks and qualification procedures and within no time at all the cash was in my bank account.
And that is when all the trouble began. Now before I go any further I just want to clarify one thing: if I told you that the situation to consume me for the next 18 months wasn’t my fault, I would be lying to you. I maintain full responsibility for my part in what unfolded, and accept my share of the blame. So what did happen exactly? Well, in short I mismanaged my money, moved jobs and changed payday, and in one act of utter stupidity I decided the best thing I could do was take out another payday loan from a different company to offset the costs of my existing payday loan. Stupidity doesn’t even really cover it, but I think at the time I just wanted to pay off my first loan company, Payday UK, no matter what. They had made it abundantly clear what the consequences of missing payments would be and I was scared of what would happen next if I didn’t manage to pay it off.
Time went on, and one payday loan turned to two, and then three, four until one day I had taken out over 60 payday loans from 10 different companies. I cannot begin to describe some of the emotions of the time, every day I had this sickening, gut wrenching feeling that seemed to be ripping me apart. I had become consumed with the shame and I felt so alone. I had already decided that I was on my own in this fight, I got myself into that mess and no one could help me out of it. I had set along a road of self destruction, forced to take out multiple payday loans to pay off the others just to keep me alive on a month to month basis. There was no way out.
Call it farfetched, but that is exactly how I felt. It can be hard to see that there are people who can help and that there is always a way out when you’re in that deep, but thankfully I did manage to break out. I drew up my courage and fought back against the industry, telling all of the payday companies that they wouldn’t be getting their money back that month. That was when phase two kicked in, and the term repayment plan entered my vocabulary. If I thought life was hell paying loans back on time, a whole new world of trouble erupted when I stopped! Trying to fight with a dozen different companies at once was quite surreal and many of the companies involved all shared the same frustrating traits, including:
It took many months to bring the situation under control. Many of the companies wouldn’t budge until they became aware of the media interest in my situation, or until I had written my 70 page report on the industry. After that I was left speechless by the ‘gestures of good will’ I began to receive, with repayment plans being set up, and in some cases reduced settlements being agreed. It might have been a more convincing gesture had it not taken so long to achieve.
The scale of the issues I was faced with are simply too much to write in one article, which is what prompted me to write my book ‘When Payday Loans Go Wrong’. It’s a full account of the last two years of my life and my payday loan ordeal. It details each loan, the logic behind getting them, and chances of escape which I missed. Most importantly it details my fight to get out, and it gives others who are in the same boat the hope that they can get out too.
My website www.saynotopaydayloans.co.uk is an online campaign to regulate payday loan companies effectively. Left alone these payday companies see many people spiralling into an uncontrollable level of ‘payday’ debt.
There is not enough regulation of the industry; people are either too afraid or too isolated to get themselves back out of trouble. There needs to be real change and for people to take signification action against these companies so that others are not put in the same unmanageable situation that I was.
To find out more about the risks of payday loans and your alternative options, take a look at these useful articles: