Agassiz’s Pioneer Trading Post has been ordered to pay $3,397.13 to the former owner of a vintage accordion after a judge found their interest rate was the equivalent of 300 per cent a year. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

B.C. pawn shop ordered to pay thousands after charging ‘criminal’ interest rate

An Agassiz pawn shop charged 25% interest a month, similar to other shops in the region

Agassiz’s Pioneer Trading Post has been ordered to pay more than $3,000 to the former owner of a vintage accordion, after a judge found the pawn shop’s interest rates were “criminal.”

In a judgment issued last week (Sept. 5), provincial court judge Kristen Mudstock said the Fraser Valley business could not legally charge 25 per cent interest monthly for a three-month loan agreement.

The business had taken Garry Hemminger’s antique accordion as security for a $500 loan back in 2017, which Hemminger would be required to pay back with the interest at the end of the three months. If he didn’t, the accordion would go to Pioneer Trading Post.

“The claimant and the defendants did not enter into this pawn agreement for an illegal purpose or with an evil intention. This was not a classic loan-sharking transaction,” Mudstock wrote in her decision.

However, because the interest rate exceeded 60 per cent a year (the annual interest rate was effectively 300 per cent, even if the loan was only in effect for three months), it was found to be a criminal interest rate.

SEE ALSO: 2-year investigations nets $900,000 in refunds for payday loan customers

According to the judgment, owners Tracey and Adrian Davies were unaware that their interest rate was considered criminal. However, they were still ordered to pay Hemminger back $3,900 for the 1978 Excelsior accordion — which had been sold in September of 2017 — minus the principal loan amount and the original $1.50 electronic transfer fee, as well as $1.37 in interest.

“We really debated if we were going to do pawn anymore,” Tracy Davies said about receiving the judgment.

Immediately after the judgment, Davies said she began searching to find out what other pawn shops were offering for their loans.

“The minute we got our judgment, we went online right away to find out what we were doing wrong,” she said.

She found that their interest rates were in line with what many pawn shops were asking around the region, and was in fact lower than some. A few Davies had contacted were asking for up to 30 per cent a month, while some offered lower interest rates, around 10 per cent, but had exorbitantly high “storage fees” for the item.

The main difference Davies found between their loan terms and other pawn shops is that Pioneer Trading Post offered theirs as a three-month loan, while others had it as a renewable one-month loan.

“It’s exactly the same as everyone else is doing,” she said. “We just didn’t renew it every month. That’s the only difference.”

SEE ALSO: B.C. government aims to stop concert ticket, payday loan gouging

Under the criminal code, the legal monthly interest rate is just five per cent.

Since receiving the judgment last week, Davies said the shop has altered its agreements for future loans to be a renewable monthly loan — something they had wanted to avoid originally because of the hardship it could cause for people looking for money.

“Can you get on your feet in one month?” she said. “That’s the major reason why we did it” as a three-month loan.

Davies said this is the first time in the shop’s three years in business that they had dealt with a legal situation like this.

The pair are looking into getting a lawyer to appeal the judgment, so they don’t have to pay thousands to Hemminger, who had never repaid the original loan or interest.



grace.kennedy@ahobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Guest choreographer takes the ice with Mount Arrowsmith skaters

Mount Arrowsmith skating season is underway, with COVID-19 protocols in place

RCMP investigating after tires slashed in Port Alberni neighbourhood

RCMP are looking for anyone with information or video surveillance

Port Alberni writer featured at Alberni Valley Words on Fire

Vicki Drybrough’s poetry and short stories have been published in anthologies and literary journals

Tour de Rock alumni ride through Port Alberni

Event was scaled down this year in response to COVID-19

Third brewery on the way for Port Alberni

Alberni Brewing Company hopes to open in early 2021

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

Shawnigan Lake’s Kubica gets 25 to life for murder in California

Former Shawnigan Lake man convicted of killing woman in 1990

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Liberals seek to fast track new COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires

Government secured NDP support for legislation by hiking amount of benefits by $100 to $500 per week

B.C. VOTES 2020: Echoes of HST in B.C. debate over sales tax

Cannabis, tobacco, luxury cars still taxed in B.C. Liberal plan

She warned her son about toxic drugs, then he was dead

Donna Bridgman’s son died at the age of 38 in Vancouver

Most Read