'Australia has become a bunch of prudes'
A SEX SHOP owner who says customers "need to take a week off work" after shopping at her raunchy store claims she has been jilted by a service that refuses to accept her.
Deborah Avery, owner and operator of Canberra adult store The Pleasure Box, has made a formal complaint to the ACT Human Rights Commission after she was rejected by finance service Afterpay.
"They're discriminating against my customers by saying it's OK if you want to buy a rabbit hutch and pay with Afterpay, but it's not OK if you want to buy a rabbit to put up your clacker," Ms Avery told news.com.au.
Afterpay is the modern version of the lay-by, where online customers can pay off their purchases in fortnightly instalments. But instead of waiting until they pay off the product, customers receive their purchase straight away.
It is used by retailers including Big W, Apple and Cotton On, and Ms Avery was hoping to use it for her online shop.
"It's very popular. I'm often getting emails or phone calls asking if I have Afterpay," she said. "Not everyone has $500 (immediately) to spend on orgasms.
"But every one has something in their drawer. What's the difference between a cock strap and a trendy collar for your dog?"
She said after doing her own research she thought she had "better jump on the bandwagon" but was rejected on the basis of "profession, trade, occupation or calling".
"We can't offer Afterpay for adult industry products. This will hopefully change in the future," an email to Ms Avery from Afterpay, seen by news.com.au, said.
Ms Avery claimed "judgment" over the adult industry and the "prude factor" was "getting worse" in Australia.
In its email, Afterpay said: "The industry is not accepted right now because the industry carries an above average non-repayment/fraud rate on the consumer end."
Afterpay also assured Ms Avery the rejection was not because the business was in the adult only category.
But Ms Avery did not agree, and said: "You can't just do a blanket ban based on a couple of retailers who may have had a problem."
The business was also declined by a similar service, ZipPay.
But it's not just The Pleasure Shop that's finding finance a fickle business.
An eye-opening report released by Australia's adult only industry body, The Eros Association, claimed 16 out of 24 erotic businesses including sex shops, sex toy manufacturers and brothels reported bank discrimination.
Neil Duckett, a manufacturer and distributor for leather fetish brand S (A) X Leather said he had consistently been refused financing from Westpac and ANZ.
He told news.com.au he hadn't even bothered to approach a bank for three years because "the conversations don't differ".
Five owners surveyed by Eros claimed they had subjected to discrimination by being rejected for a business loan, one said they were turned down for a business debit card and another reported being refused a mortgage for a freehold property that operated a licensed brothel.
"I know it's boring, but I pay taxes like everybody else. There is nothing about my business that is illegal, I don't sell X-rated material," Ms Avery said.
"I can't believe I'm still having this conversation after 17 years in business."
A spokeswoman for Afterpay told news.com.au: "In its early stages of operation, Afterpay has only made itself available to certain categories of goods in order to manage the risks that face the business and ensure it can provide the best possible solution to end customers.
"As the business continues to grow, Afterpay plans on expanding the service across a broader range of categories."