'Lady loans' disgust women

RICHARD MEADOWS
Last updated 05:00 27/10/2013

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A credit union offering "Loans For Ladies" and encouraging women to go on shopping sprees and have makeovers has sparked fury on social media from the company's target demographic.

Customer-owned credit union NZCU Baywide launched a website called Loans For Ladies just over a month ago, encouraging women to borrow any amount from $1000 to $50,000 for "an all-day makeover, a shopping spree, or that second car you've always dreamt of - anything goes honey!".

Sprinkled among the retro-style imagery and garish colour scheme are inspirational messages such as: "Cinderella is proof a pair of shoes can change your life."

The website also carried fake - or, as the company initially called them, "indicative" - testimonials, from the likes of ‘Frankie Olson': "I got a loan for [sic] Loans For Ladies and got nipped and tucked from ear to ear. I feel like a million dollars."

Angry women took to social media to voice their disapproval soon after. "I want to use Loans For Ladies but it looks so complicated. Maybe if I get a man to explain the big words to me," tweeted Alessandra Rachael.

"I don't think you've used quite enough pink on your website, or nearly enough images of impossibly high-heeled shoes," said Facebook user Lisa Cullimore Ryder. "When it comes to misogyny though, it's two thumbs up!"

NZCU Baywide says the site was only meant to be light-hearted fun - and in fact was the product of an all-female marketing team.

Chief executive Gavin Earle denied the site was sexist. "I appreciate that some will take offence to it, and we certainly do apologise to anyone who does, but at the end of the day it's meant to be light-hearted and a bit of fun," he said.

Earle said the testimonials were clearly made up and would be replaced with genuine ones in time.

The traditional credit union ethos of thrift and saving appears to be at odds with the site's promotion of borrowing for luxuries, which carry interest rates from 13.95 per cent.

Federation of Family Budgeting Services president Margaret Elsworth disagreed with the website's principle. "These sort of things do make it very difficult for people who can't afford things anyway."

Earle said most applicants for Loans For Ladies had been turned down because of strict lending criteria. The approval rate was around "six or seven per cent". He said it was better to borrow from a credit union than to be "ripped off" by finance companies.

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