Buckle up for a tale of Bee Loans, a Payday loan company (of sorts) ruining my Friday night by trying to con people in Facebook groups. So instead of drinking wine and watching Gogglebox, got mad and tweeted a lot about it instead.
Now, I’m sure you’re probably aware that I don’t think a lot of Payday loans companies as a whole – especially the nasty marketing tactics I’ve seen them deploy. Last night I discovered a brand new trick on Facebook, by pay Payday Loan comparison site called Bee Loans which has made my blood boil.
Facebook groups are places where you talk to one another, recommend products/give advice etc. They’re community groups. I’m in A LOT of them (some really weird ones too!). I like to browse them to see what people are chatting about and if there is anything I should be included in my blog and well guess what – I’ve found that!
Be careful of Bee Loans
I was browsing away in a ‘buy and sell’ group (like a Facebook car boot sale) and what do I see, someone asking where they can get a loan today.
The post said:
‘Whats chances of me getting a loan today. I need about £600 and I don’t have good credit at all. Who’ll defo help me plz!!’
I see this kind of post numerous times a day in various groups, and it always makes me sad. I do like to chip in with some good blogs/article who can suggest alternatives to a payday loan because the interest rates are stomach-churningly big.
Back to the Bee Loan scandal
Someone (with no proper profile picture – weird eh?) responded within a minute with this nugget of wisdom:
‘Bee loans will do that amount for you they do loans for people with really bad credit. I had £800 last Christmas off them and they really helped me out.’
First off a Payday loan company lending you money isn’t helping you out. Like the brilliant Sara from Debt Camel Said. ‘Take the sting out of a finding a loan’ they say… then quote a representative APR 305% OUCH THAT STINGS’
Let’s call her ‘dodgy no picture lady’, didn’t mention how much that loan cost. Just painted a really nice picture of last Christmas. If you want to see the reality of using Payday loans to cover Christmas, check out this BBC documentary.
It’s rubbish advice. As a rule of thumb, don’t listen to people who give you financial advice on Facebook groups.
"take the sting out of finding a loan" they say… then quote a representative APR 305% OUCH THAT STINGS
— Debt Camel (@DebtCamel) December 7, 2018
BUT ANYWAY – HERE’S WHERE IT GETS WEIRD
The woman who needed a loan replied with (and spot the odd bit!):
‘Brilliant, I’ve just had a look from them on google is this the right website for them? [Link to the apply now section of the Bee Loan site – they aren’t getting a link from me! You don’t need to see it – just think of a yellow, ugly website full of regrets). #AD
DID YOU SEE THAT LADIES AND GENTLEMEN? AN AD HASHTAG!
I did an actual double take. I’ve never seen an #ad hashtag slipped into a conversation, on a cheeky thread in a random Facebook group before. You know what, I often don’t see big influencers/websites using them when they should be – so it stuck out like a sore thumb.
Let’s have a quick think about what #ad means
Ad literally means ‘advert’. We’re pretty used to seeing adverts on the tele – we know when we’re being sold to. But in magazines and online, if a brand wants you to sell their product, they will give you money.
You’re then compromised a bit right? I’m not saying its bad, but the rules are you need to tell your readers you’ve been paid so they can make a proper, informed decision about whether to listen to you or not.
On social media, the standard is that if money has changed hands, you stick in the hashtag #ad.
So if I’m in a Facebook group, like a normal person, recommending something I used last year, I clearly wouldn’t use an #ad hashtag because it would be weird.
Back to the odd Bee Loan Facebook conversation
Right, I hope you’re picturing me as a Columbo-type just moving along with my day, spotting a conversation with an #ad hashtag and then turning around dramatically ‘errr just one more thing’ (or like Charlie Day trying to solve a conspiracy!) I was now invested! My interest has been piqued!
Fake profile picture woman replied:
‘Yes thats the right one, if you apply for that amount now it should be with you in the next couple of hours they’re usually really quick.’
I like to think that I’ve been kind to not point out the bad grammar and spelling so far (I’m far from perfect, the day I send a mistake-free Tweet is the day I’ve been hacked by a more careful person than me!). But I’m annoyed now. This is some sneaky sales stuff.
The original poster replies one more time, then turns off commenting (it’s ALMOST as if she doesn’t want to invite comment from other people – funny that!):
‘Ok thanks for your help ill do that now x #sponsoredad’
WHOOP THERE IT IS.
What’s that love? ANOTHER sponsored ad disclosure in a comment. This is a very weird natural conversation you’re having, no?
Why this has annoyed me
I’ve asked Bee Loans to explain themselves and I have a suspicion I know what they’ll say – and maybe you will think something similar; ‘Calm down Lotty, they did say it was an advert at least!’
Well sort of.
I thought I’d stick the term ‘bee loans’ in Facebook search and see if there are other people doing similar things in similar groups. Guess what – they do. And they don’t disclose they’re adverts at all. The same fake conversations, from ‘normal’ people. A hidden advert.
But even if we pretend they put an #ad in every single Facebook conversation, I’m still not OK with it.
- The original call for help is a question. There’s no ad in there. I don’t believe that someone innocently asked it and then a paid person happened to find it and have that ‘perfect’ conversation promoting Bee Loans. I believe they are BOTH working on behalf of Bee Loans.
- I think at least one of the two accounts is a bot.
- I believe the conversation is a lie. It is framed as if one person is asking a question, and then a stranger is chipping in with unbiased advice (notice the person who is actually recommending Bee Loans doesn’t use the ad hashtag).
- They are sneaking in an advert where you are not expecting an advert. It’s not framed in an ethical way. We expect to see adverts on websites, blogs, twitter etc from people we trust and are telling us its an advert. Not slipped into a group where people are buying second-hand items.
- They talk about ‘no charges’ but Bee Loans is a comparison site sending you off to Payday loan sites where trust me, they’re going to charge you!
- They change the O with a 0 a lot in wording on Facebook, so Bee L0ans, not Bee Loans, so its harder for Facebook who hunt spammers to find them. Makes me think they know they’re not being honest.
- The Christmas element. People are skint this time of year, it’s Christmas and this company are taking advantage of a hard time of year.
I Facebook messaged the woman who had written the post, asking about it (I wanted to see if its a real account), but nothing. I believe the post has been deleted too.
Beware of recommendations on Facebook
The odds of you seeing Bee Loans being chatted about in your groups is pretty low I suppose, but it serves as a warning to be extra careful when taking advice from strangers online.
There’s a reasonable chance they have an ulterior motive and they won’t always helpfully stick #ad on it. If you need ‘financial advice’ go to an expert. You can give the Money Advice Service a call for free (0800 138 7777), or talk on web chat for all sorts of money-related things or give Citizen’s Advice a shot who can point you in the right direction for free financial advice.
Have you seen this kind of thing before? Let me know in the comments.