Uncertainty around pawnbroker closures
Customers of a High Street pawnbroker are being left in the dark after branches were closed and calls unanswered. A&B Pawnbrokers (Albemarle & Bond) and Herbert Brown stores have closed their doors, and its website says “this store” has ceased trading.
Owner Speedloan Finance has yet to make it clear whether any of the 116 stores will remain open. The pawnbrokers’ trade body hit out at the firm’s unanswered helpline.
“Their decision to downscale UK operations is a strategic matter for the company but [we have] expressed concern that the communication of their actions to their customers falls below the standards expected of its members,” the National Pawnbrokers Association (NPA) said.
“In particular we are most unhappy with the fact that customers cannot get through to the helpline. We have demanded that the management of the company resolve this as a matter of urgency.”
Pawnbrokers allow customers to offer something valuable as security for a loan, or buy items such as jewellery and antiques. They lend money quickly, but usually at a worse rate than banks.
Stores also often offer other financial services such as currency exchange and buying gold.
The company said that any items pawned in A&B stores will be transferred to a central store, and can be redeemed or sold through this operation.
“If your items are expired or due to expire, please note we will not take any action with your items until we speak to you,” the website said.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to contact all customers prior to the closure date. We apologise for any inconvenience this has caused.” Albemarle & Bond was established in 1840.
How does pawnbroking work?
Customer “pledges” an item, such as a gold ring for a set period of time, usually six months
Pawnbroker gives 50% to 60% of the item’s value as a cash loan
Customer pays 7% to 8% interest every month
An item can be redeemed during the loan period by paying back the original loan and any interest up to that point
If the customer cannot repay the loan at the end of the deal the pawnbroker sells the item and returns any surplus to the customer
More information is available from the National Pawnbrokers Association. Consumer advice on pawnbroking is available from Citizens Advice and the Money and Pensions Service.