CHOICE Head of Policy Patrick Veyret
Consumer group CHOICE has awarded VetPay a Shonky for hitting pet owners with expensive interest rates and a raft of fees and charges.
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VetPay is a quick access loan product that targets pet owners who find themselves struggling to pay their vet bill.
"CHOICE is awarding VetPay a Shonky for profiting from people's concerns when their pet is sick. VetPay markets its loans as 'affordable', yet it charges interest rates of more than 18% and hits users with fees at every turn," says CHOICE's Head of Policy Patrick Veyret.
CHOICE's analysis found that signing up for VetPay involves a yearly $49 fee just to access the service, $2.50 every time you make a repayment, plus a significant annual interest rate of 18.4%.
"A beloved pet's illness can be one of the most stressful times in a person's life. Lenders such as VetPay should not be profiting from people's anxieties about their pets," says Veyret.
"We've heard from financial counsellors who have seen cases where customers have gone into unaffordable debt just from using VetPay, as well as people like Kellie who were shocked at the interest rates and fees she was charged."
Case study: Queensland pet owner Kellie Wood was sold into a $2000 VetPay loan when her dog, Bear, broke his leg. Wood said that her VetPay loan turned out to be more expensive than expected.
"It's not on. A company should not be allowed to do that with people, not at a stressful time when they are going through the emotions with their animal. It's not worth it, I would never recommend them to anybody ever. It's not the right time to take advantage of someone," says Wood.
CHOICE is calling on VetPay to stop marketing their loans as affordable.
"Lenders like VetPay have no right to market their loans as 'affordable' when the reality is they have exorbitant interest rates and expensive fees. Taking advantage of people during a particularly distressing time in their lives makes this product twice as dodgy, and well deserving of an award in the 2022 CHOICE Shonkys," says Veyret.
The 2022 CHOICE Shonkys are:
Qantas - for being the Spirit of Disappointment
VetPay - for a finance product targeting distressed pet owners
Steggles Chicken Nuggets Boosted with Veggies - for hiding veggies so well that we could barely find them
Bloomex - for flowers that don't deliver
Zega Digital cookware - for an expensive "self-cooking" smart pot that doesn't properly cook
Media contact: 0430 172 669, firstname.lastname@example.org
CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland, CHOICE Editorial Director Marg Rafferty and CHOICE experts are available for interview. Other media releases, photos, video and graphics are available for media use here: https://sites.google.com/choice.com.au/shonkys2022