In a recent letter on the subject of claims management firms Mike Davies complains that “since the advent of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 there has always been someone suggesting to consumers that they need never to take any responsibility for their actions or decisions” (Mortgage Strategy April 12).
But do banks have no responsibilities? Most of the readers of this magazine are business people and must know that if in the normal activities of your business you issue faulty contracts, you expect them to be challenged.
Why should banks be any different?
Many borrowers are in financial difficulties through no fault of their own and a large proportion of them have had their situation made considerably worse by the actions of banks. Below are just two of many examples I could quote.
The first involves one of our clients who had a motorcycle accident last year and was unable to work for a considerable time. As he was self-employed he had difficulty maintaining his credit payments. We instituted a payment plan for him which was accepted by all his creditors except one, a well-known high street bank.
It has ignored all our correspondence since last August. And this same bank refused to pay out on the payment protection insurance policy it sold to him on the grounds that he was self-employed – a fact it was aware of when he took out the loan.
Although it has contributed to his difficulties and refused to help by failing to accept the payment plan or address the PPI problem it has continued to harass him with telephone calls, including one at 10pm on a Sunday.
We instituted a payment plan for one of our clients which was accepted by all his creditors except one – a well-known high street lender
When confronted about this it said it wouldn’t happen again, but still ignored the question of PPI and the payment plan.
The second example involves a prominent credit card provider that harassed another client to the point that he could not sleep or eat for two days.
It claimed that none of the payments made on his behalf – through a debt management payment plan from a solicitor’s client account – had been received.
It was only when we visited the client to show him that funds had indeed been withdrawn from the solicitor’s account that he believed he had been lied to by the firm.
Considering these glowing examples of treating customers fairly and the ineptitude these lenders demonstrated in drawing up their credit agreements I thought I’d include the view of a senior barrister.
“I included the provision in question on my own initiative,” he says. “It seemed right to me that if the creditor company couldn’t be bothered to ensure that all particulars were accurately included in the credit agreement it deserved to find it unenforceable.”
Banks deserve everything they get and clients have every right to pursue legitimate claims.