Brian Jarvis’ recent column (“We don’t need another payday loan business in Columbia,” 11/27) brazenly misrepresented payday lenders and their customers and displayed a startling misunderstanding about short-term credit.
He asserted that lenders list interest rates in “fine print.” Not true.
We post our rates and fees prominently on the walls of all our stores and our agreement documents fully outline the terms of the transaction. Customers tell us that they choose payday loans, in part, because they are simple, reliable and transparent.
Of our customers, Mr. Jarvis alleged that “nearly all felt misled or abused.” Wrong.
A recent study from the George Washington University School of Business concluded that payday-advance borrowers make informed choices. About half of those surveyed had considered other credit alternatives — such as bank or credit card services or personal loans — before taking out a payday advance. Many (over 80 percent) chose a payday advance to avoid expensive checking account overdraft fees and nearly all (90 percent) said they were satisfied with their transactions.
He suggested that lenders “can charge whatever they want, wherever they want, as many times as they want.” False.
Customers appreciate the service we provide, not only because it’s cost competitive, but because it’s highly regulated. Our company has taken a leadership role in working with legislators, regulators and consumer groups to develop regulations that provide consumers with meaningful safeguards. In Missouri, the legislature has instituted limits on fees and loan amounts and repayment periods. In addition, Advance America works closely with any customer who needs more time to repay – and at no additional cost.
Mr. Jarvis seemed to be advocating for policy solutions by sensationalizing issues, demeaning legitimate businesses and simply seeking to scare readers. Consumers should be smart about their money and savings, and any form of credit can be abused. But it is important to understand that payday advances can be an effective short-term option for many people.
Jamie Fulmer is the director of public affairs for Advance America, Cash Advance Centers Inc., which includes 87 different locations in Missouri, including Columbia. He is based out of South Carolina.