Superloans hung posters outside their store of a woman who wrote on their window, saying “Wow! Te Aro taggers are old as hell !!” Photo / Supplied / Sam Pavan
A man from Wellington said the owner of a high-cost loaner store tried to intimidate him after he emailed complaining about the conduct of the business.
This is the latest incident in a feud between the owner of Superloans, which opened a few weeks ago on the outskirts of Cuba St, and neighbors who want him gone.
Superloans, which offers interest rates ranging from 0 to just under 50 percent, has set up shop on the edge of Wellington’s CBD.
It sits next to a number of refugee and migrant support services and around the corner from a large social housing complex – more are under construction.
One resident is upset that his new neighbor was pictured writing on the store window: “Shark-ready are not welcome in this neighborhood.”
Superloans then hung two large photos in the woman’s display case, one of them saying, “Wow! Te Aro taggers are as old as hell !!”
Sam Pavan, who works nearby, emailed Superloans complaining that the posters were disrespectful, mocking and damaging, and demanded that they be taken down.
Two days later, he said he was walking past the Superloans store when he heard a man outside talking to two other men about “that guy Sam who emailed him.”
Pavan said: “I chose not to engage in person at the time with these three big men standing in the street and I continued to walk.”
Pavan thought at first that it was just a strange coincidence.
But a few weeks later, on Sunday February 28, he received an email from Wellington Superloans owner Paul Ryan calling him a “troll”.
In it, Ryan said he “called [Pavan] outside “when he’s passed, but” like all trolls, you won’t say anything to my face and you won’t even turn around “.
Pavan said he now thought Ryan was trying to intimidate him.
“It was clearly some kind of bullying tactic on his part to try to make me uncomfortable. But I also think it’s important to tell this story because I think if someone behaves that way in front of the audience, others should know. “
Pavan said it was scary and annoying.
Ryan declined to be interviewed, but in an email he attempted to intimidate Pavan, claiming he recognized Pavan because his previous employer had worked for Ryan.
He also denied that he disparaged older people in general and the woman in the photo for damaging her property and only mentioned her age on posters because “it’s fun”.
In Ryan’s response to Pavan, he told him to mind his own business and threatened to make him the butt of the joke in his next poster.
Ryan said that because of objections to the posters, he left them longer.
But Pavan said Ryan was clearly calling on the public to respond by placing the mocking posters in the first place.
When asked if he behaved appropriately towards Pavan, Ryan replied “yes”. He said he would not apologize to Pavan or the woman on the poster.
For his part, Pavan said he didn’t want an apology, instead he wanted Ryan to treat people with respect.
Inner City Wellington Residents’ Association President Reverend Stephen King said Ryan’s aggressive tone would deter people and ultimately hit him in the pocket.
“I’m surprised that someone in their industry seems to have such thin skin – ‘sticks and stones’ is what we tell our kids.
“I think really [the situation] just needs to defuse. “
Ngā Tāngata Microfinance is a social service provider that provides loans free of charge and interest.
Its chief executive, Natalie Vincent, said the excessive interest, administration and penalty fees charged by payday loan companies could have dire repercussions.
“It just adds up and adds up and adds up and… a lot of the time people can’t keep control. The debt just keeps getting bigger and it becomes a spiral of debt.
“People [sometimes] then borrow from another high cost lender and it just gets out of hand. “
Vincent said there had been a record demand for their services, up 128 percent last year from the previous year.
She said people wanting Ngā Tāngata’s services should contact their local budgeting department.
Vincent said that Ngā Tāngata provides comprehensive services to help people improve their finances in the long term.