LIKE other forms of credit, goods you buy on hire-purchase belong to you straight away.
But you do not legally own the goods until you have paid back all the money you owe.
This means that you cannot modify or sell the goods without the lender's permission, so says the Consumer Council of Fiji.
It also means that the hire-purchase company will own the goods until the final payment is made and it can take the goods back if you do not keep up with your repayment.
Under a hire-purchase agreement, a person has to pay an initial deposit followed by monthly payments plus interest over an agreed period, said the council in a statement.
"The hire-purchase agreement you have been given to sign must state in plain language what is expected of you and how much you will pay," it said.
"All hire-purchase agreements contain conditions and warranties.
"The agreement must show the date when hiring commences."
The agreement should also show the number of installments to be paid, the amount and payment time of each installment and address where the goods are to be kept.
It should also have — to name a few — the cash price of the goods, hire-purchase price, description of the goods, insurance expenses and that the goods are of merchantable quality.
According to the council, the hire-purchase contract should conform to the requirements of the Consumer Credit Act 1999 (Amendment Act 2006).
"Where a contract is altered, or an addition made, then the contract is void if, after signing, alterations or additions are made without obtaining the debtors signature," it said.
"You should ask to have separate contracts for each item purchased on hire-purchase because in this way you can easily clear an item if you have readily available cash.
"If you have four items and all are lumped together under one contract, then it becomes impossible to clear the items quickly."
On the termination of the hire-purchase agreement, the council said a person can do this and return the goods at any time by writing to the lender and he/she may be charged the cancellation fees.
"The company then has the right to sell your goods.
"If the company sells the goods at a profit, then it must refund the balance to you. If the company makes a loss, then it can recover the difference from you," said the council.