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Don’t blame the mis-selling leeches

Following negotiations with Endowment Justice, a legal representative of intermediaries, Bradford & Bingley has done a U-turn over its refusal to deal with complaint handling companies. I don’t know about you but I can’t make up my mind whether I’m pleased or disappointed.

Though I recognise some big players are insufferably arrogant and dismissive in the way they deal with endowment complaints or procrastinate over the provision of suitable compensation, I also take a dim view of ambulance chasers.

When it comes to distorting the facts of an endowment sale there is often little to choose between lenders and complainants.

Of course, endowment mis-selling has occurred but I think instances of claimed mis-selling far outweigh numbers of the genuine article. In genuine cases, the evidence is usually apparent and compelling so enlisting the support of an intermediary to underline the point does little for the complainant other than cost them a slice of the compensation. Which is where B&B was at.

I’ll no doubt be accused of taking a jaundiced view but I think much of the compensatory claim work surrounding endowments is born of greed and opportunism. And this is a charge I levy not just at the claimants but also at those who represent them. But our major financial services providers have been the architects of their own misfortune – back to arrogance. These bastions of profit could do with a touch more humility, compassion and alacrity when it comes to admitting and rectifying mistakes and maladministration. If this were the case there’d be no market for the compensation firms to leech onto.

And for all the corporate marketing about putting customers at the heart of the business and tailoring offers, products and service to fit the individual, we all know this is just fashionable spin. There is only one goal – to maximise profit. The honeyed words are just a means to this end.

So when it comes to resisting compensation claims to protect their profit the providers shouldn’t be surprised a sector of the intermediary industry has sprung up to challenge them.

B&B has a little egg on its face but I reckon its complaint handling gang simply needs to be a bit more sympathetic and forthcoming with direct complainants. After all, contented customers don’t need representation.

But maybe that’s a financial price that remains too high for any provider to pay in a world were sticks and stones may still break bones but words can never hurt them – much.peter mounty


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