Australia’s corporate regulator is taking financial services company Latitude and electronics retailer Harvey Norman to court over allegations that advertisements for interest-free payment methods didn’t give customers the full picture of the costs involved.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) confirmed on Wednesday it has lodged documents in the Federal Court of Australia and will seek penalties against the companies.
ASIC has taken Latitude and the electronics retailer to task over one of the companies’ interest-free offers.Credit:
ASIC claims that between January 2020 and August 2021, ads that promoted ‘no deposit’ and ‘interest free’ payments didn’t disclose that consumers could only access these benefits if they applied for a Latitude GO Mastercard.
The claim also alleges that the advertisements did not accurately represent the cost of using that payment method because it didn’t outline monthly account fees and sign-up fees for the card.
ASIC deputy commissioner Sarah Court said the regulator was concerned about the lack of information for consumers.
“These credit cards, ASIC alleges, attracted substantial fees over the course of the 60-month payment term, and exposed consumers to the risks of incurring further debts and charges, as well as potentially affecting their credit rating,” she said.
ASIC claims that customers who signed up for a GO Mastercard between March and August of 2021, made a purchase at Harvey Norman and paid it off over a 60-month period would be liable at least $537 in fees.
A spokesperson for Harvey Norman said the company intended to defend the proceedings, but could provide no further comment at this stage.
More to come
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