Big purple van takes on the rip-off merchants

the good shop

In South Auckland, the Salvation Army is running a mobile shop in a big purple van.

The Good Shop is an attempt to disrupt the fleet of mobile shops that cruise low-income areas selling overpriced goods and offering loans at extortionate rates of interest.

People with disabilities or a lack of transport are commonly targeted by these mobile shops as are those with poor financial literacy, or for whom buying on credit is an attractive – or the only – option.

Newsroom Business editor Maria Slade went out riding with the Good Shop in Auckland. She noted:

  • Trucks hovering outside shopping centres asking young people if they’ve turned 18 yet so they can sign them up.
  • Calls to past customers on their birthdays with seductive offerings.
  • Traders selling bottles of Coke and flavoured milk on tick.

Prices on truck shops include a three-pack of tuna for NZ$30 and $59 for a 3kg bag of chicken drumsticks.

“Then there are the setup fees and interest rates of 40-50%, and if a customer defaults they can end up paying interest of over 1000%, all with little to no assessment of the person’s ability to afford the loan,” Slade says.

The Salvation Army says that for many years it has been working with clients experiencing the effects of high interest, high-fee loans.

“We have seen, first hand, the long term detrimental effects this can have for New Zealand whanau.

“For the past four years, The Salvation Army has developed experience in providing interest-free loans in its Community Finance programme. It now feels well-equipped to provide a similar alternative in the mobile shopping industry.”

The Good Shop does not carry goods for sale. Instead, it houses computers clients can use to shop online and financial advisors can approve interest-free loans.

About a third of houses in some parts of South Auckland don’t have the internet says Eleanor Ainge Roy, writing in the Guardian. So those people don’t have access to online shopping in their homes.

The Big Purple Van is already in operation in South Auckland. It will soon be on the roads of Porirua.

The Good Shop is supported by the Ministry of Social Development and partnered by Countdown, The Bank of New Zealand, The Warehouse Group, The Tindall Foundation and the Nikau foundation.

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News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

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