The competition watchdog widened its investigation yesterday into the £4.8 billion store card market, after allegations that costly payment protection policies attached to the cards are being mis-sold. The Competition Commission confirmed it had broadened its inquiry to include store card payment insurance, which protects cardholders in case of redundancy or ill-health. A spokesman for the commission said that there were fears that shoppers, who are routinely asked to take out the insurance when signing up for a store card, may be restricted from making an informed choice about their best insurance option.
GE Consumer Finance (GECF), the consumer lending arm of General Electric, which controls about 50 per cent of the market, insisted yesterday that customers had a competitive choice of insurance options from other companies. We are happy to work with the commission and are working with them constructively on this issue, said a spokeswoman for GECF, which provides cards for Bhs, Debenhams and Arcadia.
Which?, formerly the Consumers’ Association, says store card insurance, which tends to cover the minimum payment on a card for a year, is often mis-sold to people who will not be able to make a successful claim, such as temporary workers and the self-employed.
(The Times Friday 4th March 2005)