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If you think press ads for small brokers are bad, take a look at the internet

In response to a recent letter from Simon Robins (Mortgage Strategy March 12), I would like to express my continued exasperation at the degree to which some mortgage brokers seem to persistently and (heaven forbid) knowingly flout the MCOB3 regulations.

But my message to Simon is this – if you think press advertising is bad, you should try logging on to the internet.

Give it a go yourself. Try Googling mortgage brokers in your local area and I can almost guarantee that, whatever link you pick, you will end up on a non-compliant website. When we conducted our own survey into the matter about a year ago we found at least one in three websites didn’t comply with basic MCOB3 regulations, and those that did were often sailing close to the wind. The situation since then has seen little improvement, based on our experience.

The worst offenders are those websites aimed specifically at the sub-prime market. The lack of comparison APRs, relevant and prominent wealth warnings and, at worst, what can only be described as blatant attempts to hide compliance wording, for example in grey text on a marginally lighter grey background, all serve as examples of either a total disregard for, or at best an astonishing ignorance of, the regulations and the ethos of Treating Customers Fairly.

Confronting brokers – and I often do with email to offenders – is more often than not met with silence or apathy at a level of: “What? Really? Oh well.” This beggars belief and it makes me shudder to think of the quality of service customers are receiving.

Robins is right, of course, the £1m fines grab the headlines and serve to underline what a splendid job the regulator is doing in rooting out poor practice. But until that same level of diligence reaches the coalface, mortgage customers up and down the country will continue to receive shoddy service from a small but determined bunch of even shoddier mortgage brokers to whom MCOB3 clearly doesn’t apply.

Stuart Wilson
Director
Lemon Squeezy Marketing
By email

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