The first of the truck shops slammed last week by the Commerce Commission is in court. A former mobile trader was arrested this morning and appeared in the Auckland District Court for breaches of the Crimes Act and the Fair Trading Act.
The mobile trader was granted name suppression following his second appearance in court on September 15. The nature of his company is difficult to ascertain as it appears not to have carried out any marketing or advertising on the internet or via social media. Truck shops or mobile traders usually sell household goods from trucks or via door-to-door operations, targeting people living in low socio-economic areas, charging much higher prices than mainstream retailers and using credit or layby as a key feature of their operation.
The Commerce Commission began investigating the trader’s company and a second company which remains unnamed after putting together its report on the mobile trader industry. The scathing report, released last week, identified 32 truck shop traders in New Zealand and found that all but one of these had fallen short of their obligations under trade laws.
“We had anecdotal evidence that some of the most vulnerable members of our community were being given confusing or deceptive information by mobile traders, particularly over the total price of their purchases,” commissioner Anna Rawlings says. “We have taken action over mobile trader complaints before, but this project was a chance to delve deeper into the business practices of mobile traders and the extent to which they are complying with the law.”
The former mobile trader has been charged with obtaining money from customers by deception and accepting payment from customers without intending to supply the goods they contracted to purchase.