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Mobile traders cop highest ever fines

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 5/10/2016

The two highest ever penalties for mobile traders have been handed down in Auckland District Court for misleading customers and selling "breathtakingly overpriced everyday items" in vulnerable communities.

The Commerce Commission is cracking down on the industry which it says sells high priced goods, often on credit in poor suburbs, with low levels of consumer protection compliance.

Hamilton's Ace Marketing received the highest ever penalty, a $150,000 fine after pleading guilty to 28 charges including failing to provide customers with key loan information and misleading customers about their rights, including about repossession and unforeseen hardship.

SmartStore, based in Cambridge, received a $135,000 fine after pleading guilty to 100 charges for failing to provide Credit Contract and Consumer Finance Act information to customers, and failing to provide customers with information about extended warranty agreements.

Judge Robert Ronayne noted SmartStore was selling "breathtakingly overpriced everyday items" and noting the power, sophistication and commercial nous was with the company rather than the consumer.

The Commerce Commission has a number of mobile trader cases before the court, with five sentenced this year, Commissioner Anna Rawlings said.

She said it was crucial customers understand what they're signing up to and are given correct information about their rights in case something goes wrong.

A report from the commission in August last year found 31 of 32 mobile traders investigated did not comply with their legal obligations.

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