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

Ghostriders crush Border Bruins in end of season action

The Ghostriders took home an 11-2 victory over the Grand Forks Border Bruins

Youth encouraged to apply for leadership summit

The Youth Leadership Summit will take place in Kimberley from April 24 to 26

TFA celebrates Valentine’s Day with Hearts and Treats assembly

Students sang, danced, and recited poems for Valentine’s Day, The Fernie Academy way

Local girl skates her way to BC Winter Games

Thirteen-year-old Bree Chardonnens will be representing the Kootenay region at the games

Fernie Seniors Centre offers support to Angel Flight

On February 13, Jim Booth, president of the Fernie Seniors Centre and… Continue reading

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Toffoli scores OT winner as Canucks beat Habs 4-3

Demko makes 37 saves for Vancouver

Private clinics would harm ‘ordinary’ people using public system in B.C.: lawyer

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in 2018 that the government would begin to fine doctors $10,000

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

Police ID man found dead in west Kootenays after probe leads to no arrests

Forty-seven-year-old Aaron Graham, of Vallican, has been identified as the man killed

Child in hospital following fatal crash that killed father, sibling on B.C. highway

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

‘Die!’: Vernon councillor mailed death threat

This story contains information that might be sensitive to some readers

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

Most Read