By Alan McIntosh
Having recently read an article written by Richard Dyson of the Financial Mail on Sunday, which exposed the true extent of the rip off being perpetrated by Brighthouse, I have to say I am pretty gobsmacked.
I didn’t believe it was possible after dealing with them for years as an adviser in Paisley.
It wasn't unusual back then to hear the tragic stories of children’s TVs being repossessed within a month of Christmas, after hard up parents had desperately tried to ensure their kids weren’t left out.
Even more tragic were the stories of children's beds, taken out on hire purchase, being repossessed.
It’s a sad thing about people who live in poverty; often essential items are obtained using hire purchase.
The effect is the consumer doesn't own the goods until all payments are made and they can even be left with a debt when the goods are repossessed.
That's why, if possible, it’s best to buy such goods outright and judging from what Mr Dyson found, consumers who do are likely to save a lot of money.
In his investigation, he found Brighthouse used unique, non industry codes to make price comparison impossible and priced some electrical goods by more than a third more than other retailers.
He also found product insurance was often mis-sold when customers had their own contents insurance.
So What Can Consumers Do?
Alternatively they may get a credit union loan, where the interest is rarely more than 11-12%, compared to the normal 30% APR that Brighthouse charge.
The benefit of buying essential goods outright is even if you struggle to repay the loan, the goods belong to you.
Many essential items like TVs, beds, tables and computers are protected from diligence in Scots Law so even sheriff officers can’t take them. So the children's beds are safe as well as other items like cookers and fridges.
It may also be the mis-selling of insurance is also challengeable.
And goods in Scotland can never be repossessed without agreement or a court order. If they are it may be possible to get all payments made under the agreement refunded and where someone tries to enter a home without a court order, the police can be called.
So as depressing as Mr Dyson’s article is, it is also inspiring.
Reading about the extent of the rip off is a strong driving force making me want to make sure more get good advice. Maybe that will make sure their future is bright.