Joe Dixon is CEO of Spondoolica Group, whose mission statement reveals that they “seek to empower the people of Britain, boost consumer confidence and stimulate the sustained customer-led economic regeneration of British and global retail through the provision of locally-delivered personalised liquidity solutions”. When we met up at his harbourfront office in Jersey, I asked him how he first got into the high street payday loans business.
“Personalised liquidity solutions have always been a passion of mine” he says. “Even as a child, I helped my fellows liberate themselves from the fiscal oppression that denied them additional dietary stimulation. You could say I operated a kind of local food aid agency.” So you leant them money to buy sweets? “In lay terms, you could put it like that” he concedes.
So, how's business now? “We've enjoyed a wonderfully positive engagement with our brand in the current economic climate” he glows. So you're feeding off the recession? “Certainly the flexible labour market has strengthened our position, and we anticipate a very client-rich environment going forward.”
Is he worried that his business encourages people to build up debts they can't pay back? “We like to focus on the positive, not the negative” he insists, “particularly with reference to interest rates. 'Can't', 'debts', these are terribly stigmatising words. We prefer to focus on what our clients can achieve over the long term. Indeed, some of them are likely to remain in valuable relationships with us for many years!”
What about fears that some industry companies employed heavy-handed bailiffs to collect debts? “A key part of our customer offer is the promotion of personal growth through the discipline of an educational programme, delivered by grassroots facilitators” he enthuses. “This helps the less fortunate in our society to truly appreciate the mechanisms of the financial sector, and the value of their money as relative to, say, their furniture or their legs. These are valuable lessons which they will carry with them for the rest of their lives, however long – or short - that may be.”
I decided to push the point. “Let's face it, you're nothing more than a cut-price mafia outfit” I suggest. “Not at all” he responds, “let me extend to you the privilege of sampling one of our introductory programmes yourself”, and with a click of his fingers he summons two heavily built “grassroots facilitators”. “You'll notice that rather than the bland bureaucratic labelling device of name-badges, we encourage our facilitators to introduce themselves in a more personally tactile manner through their names tattooed onto their knuckles” he adds, with a nod of his head to the scowling black-clad men, who punch me in the face and throw me out of the window. As I lie stunned on the pavement, a passer-by rings an ambulance and helps me mop up the blood streaming from my nose. “Nothing to fear, you see” shouts Mr Dixon from out of the window, “the community will look after you. Bleeding-heart bastards.”
hat-tip to Titus