The Wisconsin Consumer Act applies to all consumer credit transactions. A consumer credit transaction is a defined term under the Wisconsin Consumer Act. It has six essential elements that have been carefully interpreted by Wisconsin courts. First, the transaction must be a consumer transaction that can be a cash or credit transaction. Second, the transaction must involve a consumer that is contracting for property, services, or credit for personal, family, or household purposes. Third, the transaction must be between a customer and a merchant. The Wisconsin Consumer Act definition of a merchant is significantly different than the UCC definition of a merchant. Fourth, the subject matter of the transaction must be real or personal property, services, or money. The definitions and interpretations of personal property and services subject to the Wisconsin Consumer Act are so broad as to be nearly limitless. Fifth, the transaction must involve a grant of credit by the merchant to the customer. Significant litigation has evolved over the meaning of that phrase. Sixth, the contract between the merchant and the customer must either permit the customer to pay in installments or permit the merchant to charge a finance charge. There are a number of factors that courts consider in determining whether the parties’ contract permits the customer to pay in installments. Although “finance charge” is a defined term, the courts have struggled when distinguishing a finance charge from an additional charge or a late payment fee.

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