CFPB fines USA Discounters, retail chain that preys on servicemembers

A few weeks ago, we flagged a Post/ProPublica investigative report about a retail chain that takes advantage of servicemembers' transience to trap them in a cycle of debt.

Now, as The Hillreports, the CFPB has moved against the retailer, USA Discounters, fining the chain approximately $400,000 (consisting of $350,000 in restitution and a $50,000 fine) for a practice of selling its customers "protections" that are either already guaranteed by law or that the store never provides.

This is another example of the CFPB's laudable pace of activity (which we've noted here), but it's also noteworthy because it highlights a gap between some of the most exploitative consumer practices and what federal regulators are in a position to police. What (rightfully) drew journalistic attention here -- the venue provisions of USA Discounters' contracts that forces servicemembers to face litigation in southeastern Virginia no matter where in the world they are stationed -- was different than what caused the company legal trouble with the CFPB this week. Although misleading consumers into buying something that they don't need is obviously a problem also, the venue trick appears to do more harm.