"If you are poor, everything can be more expensive": John Oliver takes on the sub-prime auto loan bubble

"These dealerships can trap people with few options into paying vastly more than a car is worth," Oliver said


Brendan Gauthier
August 15, 2016 5:39PM (UTC)

"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver on Sunday's episode exposed the predatory world of sub-prime auto lending, yet another way businesses are screwing people.

"Theoretically, it is a good thing that car dealers lend money to people who can't get financing elsewhere," Oliver explained. "But, in practice, these dealerships can trap people with few options into paying vastly more than a car is worth. It's just one of the many ways in which, if you are poor, everything can be more expensive."

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For a 2011 story, "A vicious cycle in the used-car business," Ken Bensinger of The Los Angeles Times tracked the sale of a 2003 Kia Optima from a so-called Buy Here Pay Here dealership in Kansas City, Missouri.

"That one car changed hands eight times in just three years, each time at a price double of even triple its Blue Book value," Oliver said. "At which point you almost feel bad for the car, which presumably needed two sessions of therapy a week just to be able to start its crappy engine again."

Oliver's research team then tracked the car down and found out it had been sold, repossessed, and sold since 2011.

"And when we caught the last listed owner, she said it'd been stolen," Oliver added. "And I really hope whoever did that drove it straight off a fucking cliff."

Watch below:


Brendan Gauthier

Brendan Gauthier is a freelance writer.

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