Commercial Break: The Credit Molesters at Advance America Would Like to (Not) Make You an Offer   1 comment

Broadcast: 24 September 2012
Program: Bones
Channel: FOX
Conglomerate: News Corporation

Advertiser: Advance America
Owned By: Presumably the same, but their Wikipedia page has one of those “don’t trust this article, it was written by shills” warnings. 
Pitch: Solve your long term money problems with our usurious, short term credit.  (WARNING: Not for use with long term money problems.) 

Payday lenders, who typically operate in ways that are just this side of the local loan sharking ordinance, have a well deserved reputation as some of the most amoral and grotesque businesses options we enjoy here in early twenty-first century America.  Their entire operations are predicated on finding financially desperate people who still have a little bit of income left, and then garnishing their salaries to make a few bucks by hastening their descent into penury. 

As if for no reason but to compound in the public mind their sociopathic lack of decency and honesty comes this commercial for Advance America, a nationwide network of these awful things.  Visually the commercial is as simple as can be.  The camera pans over a series of unfortunate people stuck in stopped automobiles, all of them wishing their lives were a bit better and that they were somewhere other than zero miles per hour on a freeway:

Commuting

A drably colored late model looking sedan.  These cars may have been left over from Robocop 2.

As the camera quickly peeks into three separate cars, a voiceover reads:

Maybe I could start clipping coupons . . . It’s worth a try . . . Look, we can drop the cable, that should save us some money . . . Why don’t we eat out a little bit less?  I could make us a bag lunch a couple times a week . . . What do you think we should do? . . . We gotta cut somewhere . . . Alright.

As the narration comes to a close, the camera finally settles on this perfectly middle class looking woman on her cell phone headset:

Inside the Debtmobile

. . . in a crappy car on a low rent set pretending to stare into the sun in front of a terrible computer backdrop. 

As she finishes her conversation, the fine print reads:

Your Children, Sell Them To Us

In case you can’t read that dark and itty-bitty type against that black background in the less than three seconds it’s on screen, it reads:

Advance America loans are not available in all states and this advertisement does not constitute an offer or solicitation for Advance America loans and services.  Visit advanceamerica.net for specific states.  Short-term loans are not intended to be long-term financial solutions.  Customers with credit difficulties should seek credit counseling.

For sheer shamelessness, this is damned impressive.  Monstrously predatory, of course, but impressively monstrously predatory.  One piece of bullshit at a time:

Advance America loans are not available in all states

Some probably have better usury laws than others.

and this advertisement does not constitute an offer or solicitation for Advance America loans and services.

It doesn’t?  Could’ve fooled me, especially with that on-screen text that reads “We’ve all been here.  That’s why we’re here with a variety of financial services to help you stay in control.”  Hmmm, that sure sounds like an offer to me.  Noah?:

to declare one’s readiness or willingness <offered to help me>

You stand ready and willing to help (actually using the word “services” in both the ad and the disclaimer), and Mr. Webster thinks that means you made an offer.  But your deliberately illegible, vanishingly tiny and barely displayed text says otherwise, so this must not be illegal.  Back to the tiny print:

Visit advanceamerica.net for specific states.

This is the closest thing to a true statement here, but I visited that site, and while you can enter an address to see your nearest location, there isn’t anywhere that I could see for a list of states that don’t let these people operate.  Continuing:

Short-term loans are not intended to be long-term financial solutions. 

No, they’re not; which is why this is where the lawyers earned their money.  The narration of this commercial is literally nothing but “long-term” financial problems.  Observe:

  • “clipping coupons”
  • “drop the cable”
  • “eat out a bit less”
  • “bag lunches”
  • “gotta cut somewhere”

There isn’t a single example there to which a short term loan is a good response.  Every single one indicates a balance sheet that is in the red for the long haul.  Dropping pay TV and eating cheaper are not things that a quick few hundred dollars in your pocket can solve.  But, according to this impossible to read and thoroughly dishonest disclaimer, the rest of this commercial did not intend to suggest that their own admittedly “short-term” products are the solution to your long term problems.  It was just there to let you know that other people have financial problems, not to offer any services or anything. 

Finally:

Customers with credit difficulties should seek credit counseling.

Here, buried as deep as possible, is the legally mandated warning about informed consent.  They’re talking about (though not, of course, technically offering) a product that can have no appeal to anyone without “credit difficulties”.  This is the ass end of money, the loosest, riskiest, and most expensive kind there is, the kind no one with any other option takes.  It’s also their entire customer base.  And since anyone who does have options already knows that payday lenders are inherently crooked and ruinous, they have to tell (in the quietest way possible) all of their potential customers that even talking to them should only be done with the advice of a neutral third party. 

My apologies for the word salad in the preceding paragraph, but that final sentence of theirs is tightly compressed bullshit, and when you poke at it, there’s no way it isn’t going to spill.  The more honest and direct statement would be a simple:

You don’t have to ask your mommy, just get in my van and you can have some money-candy.

To paraphrase a man who knew a little something about preying on the weak: that is some sick, fucking ghoulish thinking.

Posted September 28, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Commercial Break

One response to “Commercial Break: The Credit Molesters at Advance America Would Like to (Not) Make You an Offer

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  1. Pingback: Commercial Break: Montel Williams Hates Poor People « The Ann Arbor Review of Books

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