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John Oliver vs. Ace Cash Express and Other Payday Lenders

Last night on his HBO show, John Oliver did a 16-minute segment on predatory payday lenders, including Irving-based Ace Cash Express. Oliver rightly went on the attack against an industry that legally gets away with charging usurious interest rates and (as we’ve mentioned before) trains its employees in how to catch customers in a vicious cycle of borrowing.

He played clips from this explanatory video produced by Ace, which features a pleasant woman pleasantly describing how the company “will work with you” if you can’t get a loan paid back on time.

Ace Cash video screenshot

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As Oliver points out, this is how they’ll work with you:

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He then enlists comedian Sarah Silverman in an mock ad  — to counteract celebrity endorsements by the likes of Montel Williams — advising anyone who’s thinking about taking out a payday loan to do “anything else” to get that money. If you know Silverman, you know it gets a little potty-mouthed (only mildly so by her standards).

But the most useful part of the segment to Texans should be Oliver’s highlighting of a debate over payday loan regulation in the state legislature a few years ago. It features State Rep. Gary Elkins speaking out against regulation while trying to obscure the fact that he himself owns a payday loan business. He’s called on this fact by then-State Rep. Vicki Truitt, who seems like a hero in this context, except then you learn that 17 days after leaving office in 2013, she became a paid lobbyist for ACE Cash Express.

John Oliver payday loan screenshot

God bless America.