Ombudsman wipes customer's vacuum cleaner debt

Ombudsman wipes customer's vacuum cleaner debt
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A Kiwi woman had the outstanding debt on her unused vacuum cleaner wiped after she complained to the Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman (IFSO) scheme.

Betty, whose real name has been protected, entered into a loan agreement to buy a $3990 vacuum cleaner after being visited at home by a door-to-door salesman. 

The salesman got the deal over the line by reducing the price of the vacuum by $700 down to $3290. 

Betty had made four payments of $31 before the account fell into arrears as she needed surgery. 

The finance company that lent Betty the money to buy the vacuum, repossessed it, unused, and resold it for $3190.

She complained to the IFSO about the $1072 the finance company said she still owed. 

Betty's story was published in the IFSO's annual report, which states her complaint was one of 320 complaints made between 2017 and 2018. 

She would have paid $1476 in interest on top of the purchase price, if she had made all the payments under the finance agreement, over 36 months, The IFSO says. 

Betty's case ended well with the ombudsman ruling the finance company failed its responsible lending duties, which are designed to stop lenders from making loans likely to leave borrowers in financial hardship.

As a result of the ruling the finance company confirmed it would write off the outstanding debt, and would not pursue Betty further.