8th December 2016 – Financial counsellors are appalled with news today that Best and Less are now encouraging their customers to take out payday loans and other high cost credit products.
Loans with effective interest rates ranging from 48% to 400% per annum are not in the best interests of the customers of Best and Less, many of whom will be struggling to make ends meet.
High cost, predatory loans do nothing to address financial stress and trap people in a cycle of debt.
FCA’s new Representative Council is holding its first meeting in Melbourne today. Comments from some of the members of the Council are below.
- Rachael Milfull from Financial Counsellors ACT said that “I am really surprised that Best & Less would lend its name to this kind of business.”
- Jon O’Malley from the Financial Counsellors Association of Queensland said that “it is highly questionable whether online payday lenders can ever adequately assess whether a client can actually afford a loan. The integrity of Best & Less and whether it is looking after consumers’ best interests is completely shredded.”
- Julie Barrow from the Financial and Consumer Rights Council, said “this targets families with predatory lending at a time of year when Christmas and school costs are impacting budgets. It is incredibly disappointing.”
- Jan Perkins from the Financial Counsellors Association of Queensland said, “this is just another example of predatory behaviour in relation to fast credit access.”
- Tina Johnston Financial Counselling Tasmania said “Best & Less is preying on vulnerable people in the community. That is the bottom line.”
- Anne Crouch from South Australian Financial Counsellors Association said that “in our experience, many of the people who take out these type of loans do not fully understand the costs and longer-term impacts. They are dangerous products.”
- Graham Smith from the Financial Counsellors Association of NSW, said that “we are disappointed that Best and Less have partnered with a payday lender and are targeting vulnerable families. The payday lender is hiding behind their national previously well respected brand.”
- Therese Slan from the Financial Counsellors Association of NSW said that “this makes a mockery of the values statements of Best & Less which says that they aim to do the right thing by the communities by which they serve”.
There are better options for people and families experiencing financial hardship. These include the No Interest Loans Scheme (www.nils.com.au) and renegotiating payment arrangements with banks, utilities, telcos and other creditors.
People struggling to pay their bills and debts can also contact a free and independent financial counsellor for advice by ringing the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.
Contact: Fiona Guthrie, Financial Counselling Australia, 0402 426 835.