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Truck 'shops' warned on credit law

Commission warns truck 'shops' may be breaching credit law

The Commerce Commission has warned four companies operating mobile shops in the North Island that they may be breaching the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act (CCCF Act) by not disclosing important information to customers.

The Commission has issued warnings to Lync NZ Limited, Suny Pacific International Limited, Impact Door to Door Limited and The Good Guys Limited. They operate mobile shops in areas including south Auckland, Northland, Bay of Plenty and Waikato.

Mobile shops are trucks which are fitted out with a range of products, including clothing, bedding, furniture, electrical appliances and food, which allow people to shop from home. Customers can pay for their purchases using credit provided by the mobile shop. Customers who purchase items on credit are required to sign up to regular automatic payments or direct debits.

The four companies failed to disclose important information to customers buying goods on credit, such as credit fees and charges, how and when payments are to be made, default fees, annual interest rates and how they are calculated. They also failed to provide customers with details of security interests taken over people's assets, and to inform customers of their rights, including the right to cancel and the right to repay early.

"These contracts are totally deficient," says Fair Trading Manager Graham Gill. "If businesses are going to offer goods on credit, then they have to comply with the CCCF Act. If they don't provide adequate disclosure to customers then the contracts can't actually be enforced.

"Furthermore, if they make representations that the contracts can be enforced, or attempt to enforce them, they are likely to be in breach of the Fair Trading Act."

While businesses need to be aware of their obligations under the law, customers also need to know their rights, Mr Gill added. "Disclosure of information is the cornerstone of the CCCF Act. It allows customers to be fully informed about the true cost of credit, to compare competing credit offers and make a decision as to whether they purchase the goods with cash or on credit."

"Our advice to anyone thinking of entering into a credit arrangement with mobile shops is to obtain sufficient information so they can so they can compare prices and services and be aware of their full obligations. Having that information will also allow them to shop around and find the best deal."

Background

CCCF Act Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act - A general guide for the credit industry can be downloaded from the Commerce Commission's web site www.comcom.govt.nz

Penalties The court may order a creditor to pay statutory damages to customers where they have failed to disclose adequately under the CCCF Act and can also impose fines of up to $30,000 per offence under the CCCF Act and up to $200,000 under the Fair Trading Act.

ENDS

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