Editorial: Just too tempting

19:48, Nov 16 2012

No interest for 60 months. Bundle all your debts in one. Get instant credit now.

Such are the rally cries of retailers and finance firms.

Who could resist?

Sixty months! What is that? Five years?

So I can buy a great big telly, and not pay a cent for five years.

Okay, what's the catch?


Well, the catch is this. That if you don't pay the item off within the 60 months, interest kicks in at a hefty rate and, potentially, is backdated.

And the telly/fridge/computer you "bought" back then needs replacing, yet you haven't paid for the one you've got.

And you still have to buy food, and the car needs tyres and if you don't get to the dentist soon . . .

And the debt mounts up until you can't take it any more, so you head off to budget advice where you find nearly 700 others caught just like you.

Whose fault is this? Why it's yours of course.

No-one is hiding anything here, or breaking any laws. What retailers and lenders are doing is playing on your weakness, that of being human.

Not easy to get around.

One way might be more education, because no-one reads the fine print.

Schools should have a compulsory subject called "basic finance" or similar.

It would explain how a mortgage works, how hire purchase and no interest terms work, how a budget works.

It would be too much to hope that retailers and banks adopt a more morally responsible approach in declining people credit who plainly can't afford it, but no doubt there'll be a percentage of people who lie. Hard to save them from themselves.

It's disturbing that nearly 700 people (and their families) are on the service's books, but it's also a bit like being in hospital when you're sick.

At least they are in the right place.

Another thing: Sandy Mulqueen has over-reacted in resigning as a Waimate District councillor on the issue of cannabis.

Fine to make a stand on cannabis law reform but not at local government level. It's something that will be decided in Wellington.

In her two years on the council she has brought Waimate some national headlines, not always welcome, and it would be fair to say there'll be those who won't be sorry to see her go.

It should be noted that her move to work in Milton may have seen her resign anyway.

The Timaru Herald