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

UFV offers mental-health screenings as part of Beyond the Blues

Activities at event from Jan. 27-31 include stress bingos and colouring

Second earthquake in two days strikes near Agassiz

A 2.6-magnitude recorded Saturday morning

City plots plan to get more affordable housing built as rental crunch continues

Abbotsford’s rental vacancy rate was 1.3 per cent in 2019; New affordable housing strategy considered

Province bringing 421 new affordable childcare spaces to Fraser Valley

Supporting early childhood educators and creating spaces go hand in hand, minister says

Aspiring pot-sellers can apply in two weeks to operate stores in Abbotsford

City will accept applications to operate one of four new stores; public consultation to follow

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

Man clings to roof of car driving along busy road in Maple Ridge

The man was also seen jumping on the vehicle

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Most Read