Filling just about every commercial break, one used car dealership after the next promises to get you into a car today, regardless of your credit or financial standing.
Comedian John Oliver is fed up with those commercials and, more importantly, those so-called “deals.”
Oliver spent a large portion of his latest episode of “Last Week Tonight” laying into a practice he says has shades of 2008’s mortgage crisis. Oliver says he realizes used car lending isn’t a bad idea in theory, but certain dealerships prey on the economically disadvantaged.
“But in practice, these dealerships can trap people with a few options into paying vastly more than the car is worth,” he said.
Commonly called “Buy Here, Pay Here” dealerships, they promise to get people into a car, regardless of their financial situation. Most of these places finance their own loans without using a bank.
For the consumer, that can mean a high interest rate. According to data from the National Alliance of Buy Here, Pay Here Dealers, the average used car interest rate from Buy Here, Pay Here dealers is 19 percent, and interest rates can get as high as 29 percent.
Oliver laid out how a Chicago woman took out an $8,600 loan at 24.9 percent interest for a used car valued at around $3,000. She ultimately didn’t pay off the whole loan, but if she had, she would have spent over $13,000.
Scenarios like that are why people are defaulting on the loans. According to data from the National Alliance of Buy Here, Pay Here Dealers, nearly one in three people default on these high-interest loans.
The Los Angeles Times tracked a 2003 Kia Optima that was subject to high-interest loans, reporting that it was repossessed eight times.
Oliver’s crew tracked the car after the eighth time. They found that since the Los Angeles Times article had come out, the Optima had been sold, repossessed, and sold again, before being stolen.
In typical Oliver fashion, he followed up the report with a skit starring himself and Keegan-Michael Key as cheesy used car salesmen. They mocked the abuses of the industry in a fake ad, complete with cowboy hats, spinning graphics, and a flailing inflatable tube man.
Watch the video below: