More fun with payday loans

The Predatory Loan Association has some advice for "responsible" lenders: Tiny fonts are the key to successful consumer empowerment.

Published November 16, 2007 6:20PM (EST)

Most satirical Web sites are one-offs -- they have their fun, get a ton of links and traffic, and then remain frozen in amber like prehistoric dragonflies, idly on display waiting for future generations of Web surfers to stumble upon their fossilized bodies and chuckle.

Not so with the folks behind the Predatory Lending Association's Web site, discussed here on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Community Financial Services Association of America, which describes itself as "the national association of responsible payday lenders," issued a press release announcing that it was requiring all of its members "to present consumers with fees on poster-size displays in all stores and on company Web sites."

"Consumers have a right to know all of the fees associated with a financial product so they can make informed financial decisions," said CFSA President Darrin Andersen. "CFSA's new policy ensures that customers know, in simple terms, exactly what the fees are before they enter into any transaction."

The notion of "responsible payday lender" is funny enough. But the Predatory Lending Association wasted no time in chiming in with support, and advice.

From the PLA blog:

The PLA today announced that we are embracing the Community Financial Services of America (CFSA) new poster size fee disclosure policy. We were inundated with e-mails from our members with concerns that the CFSA are not actually predatory lenders. We repeat: they are our predatory brethren, just in sheep's clothing.

There are no font size requirement for the posters from the CFSA. We recommend using a large poster with tiny fonts. You can download our poster template as a Word document by clicking here.

A Salon reader wondered earlier this week whether making a satirical Web site actually "served a social purpose." There were better ways to spend money than on a Web site that the payday loan industry would ignore and poor people would never see, suggested the reader. But my sense is that the point of the PLA Web site is not so much to warn poor people or admonish evil usurers, as it is to spread awareness of what's happening among voters who might start exerting pressure on their political representatives to change the laws that allow exploitation of the working poor. In that respect, a satirical Web site that is a living breathing entity that updates itself regularly to respond to news events could make a difference. Especially if it's funny.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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