Tread carefully if you are thinking of buying these leads

Name and address supplied

Following on from Justine Tomlinson’s highly accurate account of the service offered by GMF Marketing Services (Mortgage Strategy, November 7), I would like to recount my own tale of woe. For those like me who only read the first paragraph to see if a letter is of interest – do not use GMF.

I signed up with the company in July looking for a little extra work. It confirmed that all leads were generated in a compliant fashion and in line with the FSA’s financial promotions requirements, but refused to give me sample sites to study, citing conflict of interest.

When I received my first few so-called leads I was told, when I rang the prospect (always within an hour of the lead being delivered), that they “had not requested advice” or “did not expect to receive a call”. Of course, all of this, any seasoned lead user would expect so I thought there was no problem but when I dug a bit deeper and started looking at the sites the leads had come through I found that they were non-compliant, promised the client “no fee” and all other manner of things that simply are not true of the average adviser in my experience.

When more leads came through and the same sort of things happened, I challenged GMF and the company made me feel like I was the moron, acting as if I was talking double Dutch and that the financial promotions guidelines simply do not exist.

After 10 leads from the company I had simply had enough. I cancelled my membership, asked for my money back and withheld the final payment of £210. Then – nothing for three weeks. No contact, no replies, nothing. Then suddenly came an email telling me I owed the firm £210 on termination of the agreement.

I duly replied and advised the company that I had dealt with this some weeks earlier, in response to which I was delivered an almost instant ultimatum along the lines of – pay up or we’ll charge you a £200 debt collection fee. It was at this point that I realised GMF is not interested in me making money. It is only interested in lining its own pockets.

Please don’t ge me wrong – I understand that to make money you have to speculate and that someone else will be making money too, but to simply give my hard-earned cash to these people for a service that bears no relation to what it says on the tin sticks in my throat. Where do they think the money is going to come from for repeat business?

I have to be careful what I say as GMF has now served me with court papers (it tells me this is what it has to do with a lot of brokers – hardly good PR) via the Northern Ireland Court Service and I intend to defend the claim, not for the money but for the principle.

I also intend to counter claim for a refund of the money I paid.

I urge anybody who is considering using GMF to tread very carefully. I have spoken at length with a number of compliance experts about the evidence I have and they are all of the opinion the company’s material is not compliant and that its processes sail very close indeed to the compliance wind.

GMF is a money making programme for Gareth Flanaghan and nothing else. I will write to MS again as things develop. In the meantime I am asking MS to withhold my name so my future business dealings are not prejudiced, but if anyone would like to get in contact with me with similar problems, I would be happy to form a support group.

Name and address supplied