an offer you can’t refuse?

The Ermine household took a wander into town, on the lookout for a point and shoot digicam for Mrs Ermine. Savvy shoppers are going to immediately think – first mistake, wtf are they going into town for this, the best deals are always on the Internet? Well, yes, but DW is exacting on the size she wants of a P&S, and to get to know that you have to touch it and handle it. We started off at Cash Converters, it’s my favourite store for heavy stuff secondhand.You can’t help feeling that the Dark Side is taking over round these parts, however.

Are you sure that typo on the ad shouldn’t read “a loan of £666”, Mr Cash Converters? Is this the power of competition with The Money Shop next door?

I bought our PA amplifier there for £30, secondhand from a pub. I’ll probably get our PA speakers there as well. They are variable on small electronics – I’d say they are overpriced a bit.

Cash Converters. Bet they don’t have ‘don’t be evil’ in their mission statement

Cameras of the sort we wanted (compact, IS) seemed to roll up at the £50 mark. The problem with this is a P&S camera lives on borrowed time. The action of the lens coming out sucks in dirt, which either gums up the lens mechanism or gives you dust spots on the sensor. You just don’t know how a secondhand P&S has been kept, so we had a look at the new market to see if this risk is worth taking. Checked out a couple of stores on prices, a Panasonic DMC-LS5 wasn’t bad at about £70.

Then you get the smartphone out, a Samsung G2 in DW’s case, to establish whether the price is right. Since the web browser on a smartphone is worthless for finding anything out[ref]that’s why you have apps on a smartphone, to munge the data to suit the poxy little low-resolution screen, old stagers will remember it as what was hi-tech EGA graphics in the mid 1980s.[/ref] you curse the bugger and remember the county library is nearby. For the first time I got to use the Web in the library, after removing the JSA instructions left by the previous user from the table. The camera price was sort of okay, not fantastic.

We then went to Jessops, who had a Canon 117HS for ~£80. Apparently, this is the same as a Canon 115 HS but the different model number. This is a scam so Jessops can avoid price comparison sites. Some investigation on the web showed £80 wasn’t bad for this. Yes, it’s £30 more than a secondhand digicam, but the year’s worth of guarantee for what is inherently an unreliable product has some value (cash converters warranties for a month ISTR).

So we asked them if we could fire it up and check it out. Consternation in the ranks, and we were informed that there wasn’t a battery or charger, though these could be purchased. The Ermine voiced, perhaps a little loudly, that this was therefore a scam, it wasn’t £80 they wanted, but £80 plus the £20 cost of the essential parts to get a working camera. The sticker price was deliberately misleading. Anyway, the shop-assistant went back to see if they could find a battery, and a chap came back, and DW took over the negotiation.

the haul, I’m glad I didn’t throw out the charger from the last Ixus

The upshot was that she paid £85 for the camera, with a hahnel battery charger, hahnel aftermarket battery, camera case priced at £16 and a three year extended warranty. The Ermine is still not quite sure how that happened, as I’m sure the 3-year warranty was originally quoted as £20. Normally I don’t touch extended warranties, but for a product class which has a known unreliability problem it has some appeal. Particularly if they throw in a case, and drop the extra to £5 which seems a little bit less usurous. Okay, so the 12V power supply of the charger didn’t work, though the charger did. I have enough 12V supplies, and indeed it so happened that we still had the battery charger for the previous Canon Ixus so no big deal 😉

More offers you can’t refuse. The Ermine is too poor to get a loan from the Money Shop these days

You know you’re on the wrong side of the tracks with Cash Converters. It isn’t just the gold ads, it’s the fact they’re right next to a Money Shop. You’d have thought the Ermine is right up their street, no job, no income, what’s not to like? Hey, that sort of thing used to get you a NINJA mortgage in the bad old days!


Bank card and a job? £1000 can be yours

Well, hot damn, no £1000 today for me. Got bank card but no job, so The Money Shop ain’t talking to me today 😉 Psst, got a Rolex? What’s up with that. Firstly, if you have a real Rolex or Breitling are you going to be hob-nobbing with the riff-raff in the Money Shop rather than the sort of pawnbroker with a top-hat and three gold balls outside his shop, and secondly if you are a likely client of the Money Shop your Rolex was probably £5 at the local car boot sale, no?

So, thoroughly dejected at being not good enough for the services of The Money shop, I carried on, to observe yet another offer I couldn’t refuse

Borrow £100 for £125? hell, YEAH!!!! Why Not? bring it on

Why would I want to do that to myself? Really? Borrow £100 and pay back £125? Do I get fries with that? It wouldn’t be so bad if I got my dodgy motor fixed all inclusive, but no. I’ve kept this photo full size, if you look at the small print at the bottom you get to see

Representative 1410.33% APR … Interest Rate 300% p/a fixed

Who are this bunch of criminals and charlatans then? Say a warm welcome to the usurers at the Cheque Centre, impecunious citizens of Ipswich

At least they can spell. It’s the Cheque Centre over here, rather than the Check Center….

They’re actually recruiting at the moment. I was half tempted to go in and hit them up for a job, just to see what sort of punters come in to buy £100 worth of notes for £125. However, I’d probably discover a whole bunch of people who want to kill me, because even the Cheque Centre must have some criteria for lending.

Let’s remind ourselves of what they are offering me. I go in today, with an urgent need of Stuff, so I get a load of these

£100, waiting to be turned into booze, Harry Wraggs and Sky TV vouchers

I turn them into beer, Sky TV minutes and harry rags

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to come back later, having had to work 25% longer to earn this lot to hand back and call it quits

£125 – so paying 25% more is a great deal because I couldn’t wait a month?

Whatcha say to that sort of offer? What other answer is there other than Hell No! If ever it looks a good idea to you to pay 25% for 30 days, then STOP RIGHT THERE. Sit on your hands. Think. Stop buying shit. Let the kids scream I wanna have, I wanna have,  I wanna have for all they’re worth. Because when this looks like a good deal you are in a deep hole, and rule#1 in a hole is Stop Digging.

There are a lot of offers you should refuse in this town at the moment!

Ladbrokes Double Vision – more betting capacity needed for the recession!

So there I was, cycling down a familiar street, unencumbered by the tribulations of work and in search of the local junk shop. A disturbing feeling came over me, as I came across this scene

double vision in daytime – whoa there

Thinks to myself, okay, perhaps the last few days have been heavy on the sauce, but it’s daytime, I don’t think I am drunk in charge of a bicycle, but is that really two Ladbrokes betting shops, one on either side of the road? I have to admit that this picture is a composite of two taken from the same place, but that’s because my digicam hasn’t got a fisheye lens on it.  This really is what it looks like.

So what’s up with that then? Are the residents of this road so bone idle that they can’t be bothered to cross the road to get their punt in on the 4:1 horse at the 8:15 races? We’re not talking the M4 standing between one set of potential betters, just one modest suburban road.

Last time I came this way the Ladbrokes on the left looked like this

Easton’s junk shop

Now it was the devil’s own job to find this junk shop open, and it really was a junk shop of the old school. They had the child’s mannequin in the window for the last few years. However, since I am in the market for a 200w mains motor which could come with some random peice of household junk attached it was worth a go. Instead, I find the opportunity to indulge in a spot of ‘turf accounting‘ at this shiny new Ladbrokes.

Psst, wanna place a bet?

Spin through 180 degrees and I get another bite at the cherry at the old place

more turf accounting for Sir?

It all begs the obvious question. The economy is on its knees, about to enter another tailspin. The trigger finger is over the ‘Now Panic and Freak Out’ QE button at the Bank of England. Loads of people are unemployed and don’t have enough money for the essentials of life like rent and Sky TV.

Where does the money that goes into Ladbroke’s come from? Why can’t the punters understand the irony of a betting shop being called Ladbrokes? Exactly what is it that people don’t understand about this being a monumentally stupid thing to do if you are short of money?

WTF is going on here and why isn’t there a law against parting the slow-witted from their money? Should you not at least be obliged to be just a little bit more devious than ‘here, give us your money, and we’ll give you about 70% of it back, in the round? Why are people still doing this in shops?

A google search for Ladbrokes online showed me that the Ladbrokes corporation has an extensive online presence. You can be fleeced at for  the sort of thing you can do here. You can take the shaft for casino and poker on another one of their sites. Heck, you can even play bingo with them – all from the comfort of your own home. And yet there’s still money in setting up bricks and mortar shops. Dammit, there’s even money is upgrading and enlarging physical betting shops!

A gratuitous Money Shop pic. Perhaps they can turn the old Ladbrokes joint into one of these

Maybe this is the future of bricks and mortar retailing – a Blade-Runner type of world where the evil underbelly of capitalism rips people off and feeds them junk food and dodgy mobiles, with Money Shops standing at the ready to gut and fillet them, replenishing their wallets at exorbitant interest rates when the last grubby fiver falls into the rapacious maw of the Ladbrokes company. It’s a match made it heaven –

At the Money Shop we believe that you should get your hands on cash when you need it. So why wait?

And so the wheel turns, and the dirty need to make money turns into the Orwellian boot, stamping on a human face forever.

What’s happened to the High Street and why do we need Money Shops?

I haven’t been into town for a while, well, you don’t need to go there if you aren’t going to buy anything. It’s a lovely day, so I took a detour via the cemetery and the park, to be treated to the lovely sight of a couple of jays flying over the railway line.

So I get into town and there it is, WHAM – what the heck has sprung up in the last year or so?

A Money Shop

What the hell is a money shop? What’s the current rate of £1 – well it ought to be £1, natch. But no, here we have an outfit that is going to sell you money, for money. Howzat work then? I took a butcher’s at The Money Shop website to find out how it all works.

At the Money Shop we believe that you should get your hands on cash when you need it. So why wait?

Why wait? Because you don’t have any frickin’ money and will have even less after getting out of The Money Shop! Just what is so hard to understand about that?

Not only can you give yourself the right royal shaft but you can get incentivised to stiff your similarly hard-up mates. So what is the current price on money? Well, say you need £100 and you’ve just been paid, but all your pay went on the last payday loan. Well, heck, so you write out a cheque to The Money shop for £100. The kicker is they only give you  £83.01 but the Money Shop will cash your £100 cheque after 30 days. That’s truly awesome.

Let’s assume you are the typical punter. you spend more than you earn, which is why you are coming to the Money Shop. Let’s say you want to buy Shanice some trinkets for Christmas and you need £100. Nobody else will advance this to you, so hello Money Shop. You need to borrow £100 from them, plus the amount they will charge you on top (£16.99)

Say this carries on for a year. You obviously have to borrow more and more since you need to borrow to cover the cost of the charges. How much are you borrowing at the end?

month borrowed charge
January £100 £16.99
February £117 £19.88
March £137 £23.25
April £160 £27.20
May £187 £31.83
June £219 £37.23
July £256 £43.56
August £300 £50.96
September £351 £59.62
October £411 £69.75
November £480 £81.60
December £562 £95.46

Yikes. Just. Say. No. Wilkins Micawber had it taped when he said that if you spend more than you earn the result is misery. The advantage of the Money Shop is it helps you get to the misery faster than the competition. I vote for Mr Money Mustache‘s approach:


Say what you like about MMM, but you can’t deny his dedication to excellence in customer service. Sometimes the customer is just so wrong, and needs to know the truth. Straight between the eyes…

Flabbergasted by this, I carried on, looking for places where fools could be parted from their money. The opportunities are legion –

Continue reading “What’s happened to the High Street and why do we need Money Shops?”