My word, I’m turning into a Daily Mail reader. All I did was pick up a discarded copy on the train this week, honest! On Monday I start an intravenous course of the FT.
But before then: my response to the family that let a loan shark take £88,000 out of their pockets for a £500 loan is simply: grow a pair.
The “victims” (deliberate quotes) are the kind of people I usually admire: poor, but both working, and not constantly on the lookout for handouts. But when a £500 doorstep shylock’s “bit of interest” got past, say, £5000, did they not think to… do something about it?
What irks me is that they paid this guy for years without doing a damn thing about it. The woman’s husband must have balls the size of pinpricks. Dealing with this sort of thing isn’t difficult, but it does require a little courage, and a recognition of what’s being done to you.
What the loan shark did to you was “escalate”. You paid on time, so next time he wanted a little more. You wanted a new loan, he upped the interest. You worked more hours; he took more of what you earned. Did you not, just once, think to yourselves “Hang on, there’s a pattern developing here?”
The only sensible person in the whole sorry saga would appear to be the couple’s daughter, whose desperate bringing-home of food leftovers finally shamed her parents into calling the cops.
I’ve had people try to “escalate” on me. Not financially, but with workload and mission creep. Here’s how you solve it: just escalate back.
If he wants more, offer him less. If he makes a threat, take a photo. If he turns up with a brick, be waiting with a shovel. You might even enjoy it: “escalators” get freaked out by people who escalate back. It has nothing to do with the “consequences” a large and menacing man might threaten: the point here is that it’s all about you. He’s threatening you because he thinks he can.
Why, oh why, do things like this have to happen to hardworking couples, when the simplest solution of all is simply to act like a man?