Channel Seven’s Today Tonight program are running a story
tonight about a court ruling in mid 2005 on a GE Money Collections case
for a retail finance product. The Magistrate ruled in favour of the
customer. The purpose of this orgcomm is to ensure that our
employees have been provided with information prior to hearing about it
via the media.

We have been in touch with the Today Tonight program and have provided them with key facts about the case.

All GE Money managers have been briefed and operations and branch
employees are receiving a detailed briefing today. The following
information was provided to Today Tonight with the intention of ensuring a balanced and fact based story.

Briefing Provided to Today Tonight

  • The customer in the story took out finance with AGC four years ago, prior to GE Money acquiring AGC.
  • She made a purchase in one store and signed a finance contract
    for six months “deferred payments” (in other words a “buy now pay
    later” arrangement).

  • She then made another purchase in another store using her same
    AGC account to take out finance on this second purchase. However, this
    time she signed a sales document for an “interest free” purchase, not a
    “deferred payment” purchase. This required that she make regular
    monthly repayments (interest free) over 12 months.

  • The fact that she signed this document is not disputed by the
    court – it was evidence. She also received statements asking her to
    make monthly payments. However, she disputed her written contract
    saying that the sales person told her it was a “deferred payment”
    option. The court ruled in the customer’s favour. However, there was no
    dispute by the court that she had signed the written sales voucher
    (which stated she was to make monthly repayments).

  • Although GE Money did attempt to contact the customer by phone
    around 200 times over a 27 month period, actual phone contact with the
    customer was only made a total of 15 times during this period.
  • Since GE Money acquired AGC four years ago, the paperwork and
    sales documents that customers sign have been changed to more clearly
    explain the type of “promotion” offered. Also, GE Money has introduced
    different and improved procedures to those of AGC in terms of
    escalating and managing any disputes that a customer may have.

  • GE Money’s policy is to strictly adhere to ASIC and ACCC
    requirements for collections procedures – as is the finance industry
    standard.

  • GE Money’s “interest free” and “buy now pay later” finance
    options are provided in more than 10,000 retailers throughout
    Australia. The specific promotion being offered at any time is decided
    by the retailer within the range of options available to the retailer.
    In other words, one retailer could be offering 12 months interest free
    and one could be offering 12 months “buy now pay later”.

  • In 2005 GE Money was voted by Money Magazine as “Finance Company
    of the Year”. Also, in 2005 our interest free and buy now pay later
    finance agreements were independently assessed as being amongst the
    cheapest forms of finance available to consumers. GE Money have several
    million customers using this type of finance – the majority of whom
    are repeat business and clearly understand their requirements in terms
    of honouring their finance agreements.
  • We encourage anyone taking up any type of finance to read their
    finance agreement and special promotion terms displayed in store before
    signing up to it and to ask questions if they’re unsure of anything.

In all cases GE Money takes its compliance obligations very seriously.
Since acquiring AGC, we have improved the clarity of the documents that
customers sign and we have improved our collections processes.

If you have any questions, then please talk to your manager.

Peter Fray

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