Store card services market investigation reference (OFT)

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) referred store card services to the Competition Commission (CC) for investigation.

Action before reference

OFT carried out an informal, fact-finding review of store cards.

Reason for reference

Date of reference: 18 March 2004

The OFT has referred the following services to the Competition Commission (CC):

(a) store card credit services to retailers and related services

(b) consumer credit through store cards.

The OFT has referred these services to the Commission because of:

  • transparency concerns on the pre- and post-contract side which will not necessarily be covered by the Consumer Credit White Paper
  • concerns as to whether the market for the supply of store card credit services to retailers is working well given that entry and expansion is difficult because of incumbency advantages (length of agreements and exclusivity clauses), switching costs and sunk investment costs
  • in relation to the supply of consumer credit through store cards, the inability of consumers to assess the costs and benefits of store card use, including whether the level of APRs would be lower if that assessment were easier.

Key documents

Information on the Competition Commission’s store card credit services market investigation is on GOV.UK.

Published 18 March 2004