Protection law rattles card firms

A YEAR AGO, as they watched workmen hurriedly resurfacing the driveway of their Surrey home, Michael and Jean Ketley wondered if they'd employed the right firm. When the drive began to crack up earlier this year, their fears were justified.

The company, which had charged them pounds 2,200 for the work, could not be traced. 'When I tried to chase them, the premises were being used by a motor-cycle repairers,' Mrs Ketley said.

Fortunately, the Ketleys had paid for the work with their Barclaycard. In May Mrs Ketley contacted Barclays, asking for reimbursement and compensation. After a lengthy exchange of letters and a lot of persistence from the Ketleys, Barclays agreed to settle. They are to repay the original pounds 2,200 and a further pounds 500 towards the Ketleys' additional costs.

Mr and Mrs Ketley benefited from section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act - legislation described by Sonia Purser, a lawyer at the Consumers' Association, as 'one of the best pieces of consumer protection that there is'. However, credit industry representatives were at a public meeting in Edinburgh last month arranged by the Office of Fair Trading to discuss possible amendments to section 75. The OFT has been asked by the Government to review the Consumer Credit Act.

Section 75 applies to purchases on credit of more than pounds 100, with a current maximum set at credit advances of pounds 15,000. 'At the moment, credit card companies are jointly and severally liable with traders. This means that you can choose to claim against the trader or the credit card company,' Ms Purser said. The liability extends to cover additional costs you may incur on top of the original purchase price - so that you could have a legitimate claim, for example, for the cost of repairing damage caused by a faulty piece of equipment.

Not surprisingly, credit card companies are anxious to reduce their legal position to a 'second in line' liability. This would mean that consumers would first have to try to settle a claim with the supplier. Ms Purser says the Consumers' Association would regard this as an erosion of consumer protection. 'We find at the moment that credit card companies will put pressure on traders to pay up, and that's very useful. If they weren't jointly liable, consumers might have to sue traders before being able to go for the credit company,' she said.

Sir Bryan Carsberg, Director-General of Fair Trading, is currently weighing up the arguments for and against a move to 'second in line' liability.

However, the issue is already complicated by legal arguments about the current wording of the Act. In a long-running dispute, the credit card companies have attempted to claim that section 75 does not apply to purchases made abroad. They have also attempted to take advantage of the legal distinction between the credit card issuer and the merchant acquirer (the company that has arranged with a particular supplier to accept credit card payments).

In both cases Sir Bryan Carsberg has come out in favour of the view that section 75 protection to consumers fully applies. In the absence of case law, however, some credit card companies continue to raise objections. Ms Purser advises consumers with complaints to persevere. 'If people persist, credit card companies quite often will cave in. If they won't, and particularly if the amount of money is under the small claims arbitration limit of pounds 1,000, it's worth having a go through the county court.'

(Photograph omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)

£350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...

Java Developer - Banking - London - Up to £560/day

£500 - £560 per day: Orgtel: Java Developer FX - Banking - London - Up to £560...

HR Business Analyst, Bristol, £350-400pd

£350 - £400 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Account Manager - (Product & Account Management, Marketing)

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Account Manager - (Produc...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried