CHOICE Campaigner Patrick Veyret cuts up a credit card out the front of a Harvey Norman store – Images: https://shwca.se/Shonkys2020
Consumer advocate CHOICE has awarded retailer Harvey Norman a Shonky for a toxic partnership with Latitude Finance. The news comes as the federal government has proposed new rules for even more dodgy finance, setting the stage for a national debt disaster.
"Financial counsellors and community legal centres all across Australia have seen the impact of Harvey Norman's toxic alliance with Latitude Finance," says Patrick Veyret, CHOICE Campaigner.
"Harvey Norman, with Latitude Finance, sells one of the highest interest rate credit cards on the market at 22.74% through its stores. The cash rate is at a record low so there's no justification for cards this expensive. Customers walk in for a television or toaster and walk out with crippling debt."
Normally the law requires finance companies to do basic checks to ensure Australians won't be harmed by, tricked or pressured into inappropriate or exploitative credit products. Retailers like Harvey Norman have long enjoyed an exemption from these laws and now the federal government plans to remove these responsible lending protections.
"Financial counsellors report seeing Harvey Norman and Latitude Finance debt appear far too often when assisting people in financial hardship. If the government scraps responsible lending laws, these kinds of toxic partnerships will become the norm and Australia's already record levels of personal debt will send our country into a debt disaster," says Veyret.
CHOICE says there's no justification for credit card interest rates at this level, and retail environments like Harvey Norman selling complex financial products deserve to be called out as Shonky.
"When you go to buy a television at places like Harvey Norman, you shouldn't be pressured into high cost debt," says Veyret.
"Harvey Norman deserves this Shonky for turning their stores into the finance industry's dirty secret."
The other Shonkys for 2020 are:
InvoCare Funerals – for failing to be upfront about prices
Greentech air purifiers – for pathetic purification
Floor cleaners – for being flawed cleaners
Revitalife – for a sales scheme that needs to be put to bed
Media contact: 0430 172 669, firstname.lastname@example.org
Due to COVID-19 protocols, the Shonkys event is available as a pre-record. Extra filming can be arranged on release day in Sydney (Tuesday November 10), but capacity will be limited.
CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland and CHOICE Editor Marg Rafferty are available for interview. Other media releases, photos, videos and graphics available for media use here: https://shwca.se/Shonkys2020
Interest rates and availability checked on 23 September 2020. The main financing option to customers is Latitude GO Mastercard, with an interest rate of 22.74%. They have sold people into Latitude Gem Visa cards which have an interest rate of 24.99%. Any outstanding balance on Latitude GO Mastercard will be charged an interest rate of 25.90%.