A couple of weeks ago, I read an interesting piece in Business Week about businesses catering to the poor.
The article highlighted some of the businesses who cater to the poor; JD Byrider, Jackson Hewitt, Blue Hippo and various check cashing services.
For the most part, I thought the piece was fair. However, I can attest to my own practice how the poor subject themselves to much of the misery in their lives.
Let me give you a little snippet of a conversation I had with a guy who wanted a rapid refund in mid March.
Customer "Do you guys do Rapid Refunds?"
GG "No, that's an H&R Block deal.... we don't do those, frankly they are a rip off. We do offer e-filing... you would get your refund in about 10 business days."
Customer "Why are they a rip off? how much do they charge?"
GG "By the time you get your return completed and the refund processed it's probably going to cost you at least $350.00"
Customer "But you get the money that day?
GG "Yes you do"
Customer "Do you know where an H&R Block is around here?"
This is the type of thinking (or not thinking) with much of the poor. If this guy had just sent a 1040ez form back in January, he would have already had his refund and it would not have cost him one nickel.
So how can anyone be critical of a business that provides people with the service/product they desire?
It's hard to be poor, I watched my folks get eaten alive with service charges, excessive interest rates, etc. but if you're willing to tighten your belt and do without some things for a period of time you won't have to deal with these kinds of businesses.