Store Cards Market Investigation

Store Cards Market Investigation

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In light of the concerns that have been raised about the lack of transparency of credit card charges in the UK, particularly in relation to interest rates charged for store card credit, this matter was referred by the Office of Fair Trading to the Competition Commission in March 2004. The Commission's inquiry focuses on two key aspects: store card credit services to retailers and related insurance services; and consumer credit through store cards and related insurance services. These cards offer a method of payment and credit option which are retailer-specific, and are mostly operated by department stores and clothing retailers. The investigation is based on data relating to the period from 1999 to 2003 (supplemented by relevant information for 2004 and projections for 2005 and 2006) and focuses on the functioning of the market as a whole rather than on the conduct of individual companies. Issues examined include: relevant economic markets and the wider regulatory framework; proposals to reform the legislation governing the credit market and statutory issues; factors that prevent, restrict or distort competition; detrimental effects on customers; and options for remedial action. The report finds that the interest rates charged on store cards are too high (generally annual percentage rates (APRs) of between 10 to 20 per cent above required levels), resulting in an estimated cost for consumers of at least Ap55 million a year and possibly significantly more. A number of remedies are identified that store card credit providers should make, including warning cardholders on monthly statements that cheaper credit may be available elsewhere; providing more and clearer information on all monthly statements; offering an option to pay by direct debit; and offering payment protection insurance separately from other elements of store card insurance.8.54 8.55 8.56 When considering the likely prices that might emerge from more effective competition with credit cards, the ... 16 per cent and the average APR actually paid on general credit cards (excluding balances benefiting from 0 per cent rates, these usually ... 2A search on Moneyfacts website during March 2005 showed 261 credit cards, of which 25 quoted standard APRs on purchases of less thananbsp;...

Title:Store Cards Market Investigation
Author:Great Britain. Competition Commission
Publisher:The Stationery Office - 2006


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