Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson, Michael McGrath TD has welcomed the publication of a new report by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission into the use of Personal Contract Plans (PCPs) in the car finance market, and has called for a public information and awareness campaign to be rolled out to ensure consumers are fully aware of their rights and obligations.

“Personal Contract Plans are often an attractive and useful option for those wishing to spread the cost of buying a car over a longer period of time. However, many consumers are unaware of some their obligations and face what is known as a ‘balloon payment’ at the end of the contract.

“This balloon payment is often what gets people into trouble and in some cases leads to them defaulting on the loan.

“What stands out for me is the recommendation to bring PCP’s under the Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Code and for PCP providers to undertake affordability checks. These two measures, if implemented, would put consumers in a more solid position in terms of consumer protection.

“I welcome also the recommendation to start collecting data on the PCP’s so that we can better monitor the development of the market. This is something that I, and my party, have called for over the past year.

“What is critically important now is for a public information and awareness campaign to be rolled out across the country to ensure that anyone who signs up to a PCP is fully aware of their contractual obligations.

“The issue of who a consumer can turn to when they feel aggrieved by the PCP provider still seems to be outstanding. It is still unclear whether a customer should complain to the Financial Services Ombudsman or the Central Bank or the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.

“It is vital now that the Government considers this report and takes action so that customers are not left without adequate protection,” concluded McGrath.