The Office of Fair Trading has issued a damning report into the practices of Payday loan companies, urging them to stop pursuing borrowers for pounds of their own flesh.
The report concludes that 'Too many people are taking out loans without realising that the lender will have the power to have them killed and to take their flesh. We think they need to make it much clearer that this could happen.'
A spokesman for leading loan firm Wonga, speaking from the company's new Venice headquarters, defended the industry however, arguing 'Anyone taking out a loan has to click to say they've understood the terms and conditions before they're given the money, and it clearly states in point 745 b), subsection iii) c] on page 67 (appendix B) that we are entitled to a pound of flesh should they fail to repay the loan in full on their next payday. What could be fairer?'
Customers don't see it that way however. One Wonga customer, who wanted to be known only as Anthony, complained 'I borrowed £500 for three weeks but couldn't pay it back. I was shocked when they turned up at my door with a scalpel. "What's wrong with baseball bats?" I thought. If I hadn't been able to fob them off with my dog to sell to Findus I'd be walking around with a whopping great whole in my chest now. Something ought to be done.'
Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson agreed, telling reporters 'We're determined to protect members of the public from unscrupulous practices such as these. A pound of flesh is much too high a price to pay. Perhaps just a finger or a toe, or maybe a nose or an ear, would be more proportionate.'
Consumer groups have said that they are considering raising the matter with the European Union. The EU Commission has however stated it 'doesn't really care, as long as lenders ask for flesh in grams instead of pounds'.