Posts Tagged ‘unfair’

Bank Charges – What did the Law Lords Say?

November 26, 2009

Mouths appear to have dropped open everywhere at the decision of the law lords on bank charges. Certainly it is difficult to understand on what basis the decision was made.First let us be clear what they – appear, anyway – to have said. This is only that the Office of Fair Trading does not have legal power to investigate value for money.

What they have NOT said is whether the charges were, or were not, value for money. Nor whether the charges were fair or unfair.

Indeed, their decision is correctly being described as a technicality. In other words, no matter what the case itself is about, the manner of conducting either the case, or the matters contributing to the case, were incorrect on procedural grounds. At least their opinion is that it is incorrect in that way.

I am not a law lord; evident as it may already be to you, I want it to be clear!

But I have great difficulty in seeing how the Office of Fair Trading is not empowered to investigate value for money. This has been at the heart of trading rules and laws for as long as recorded history.

From the standards for weights and money itself, to the arcane details of contract, value for money has been at the heart of legislative process. How can fairness be expressed without reference to value for money?

I am not even sure this is in keeping with the new Lending Code!

My advice is to move your accounts away from the big banks. Many of the building societies have much more reasonable approaches. And the Co-op Bank may be another good repository for your current account. Certainly you are going to have to spend time and though reading the terms and conditions.

Perhaps we should look to a funny little comment by a correspondent on TV tonight. This was to the effect that the cost to the banks would be billions of pounds, and that was concerning the highest ranks of government.

Perhaps once again we are seeing the unreasoned triumph of the banks over the people. Welcome to the new feudalism.

A very saddened  Joseph Harris – Debt Control Man

Author: Control Your Debt Crisis on Your Own Terms

Interest Rate Action 2 of 3 – Complain

August 1, 2008

The Licence and The Regulations

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is responsible both for licensing operators in the credit industry and for the development of the Consumer Credit Regulations 2008. Both these are very important to us.
There are two licences, the Consumer Credit Licence and the Business Credit Licence. My concern is with the consumer variant, though I imagine the differences are of detail rather than principle.
Credit Licence. No company may be involved with lending or recovery without a licence, and no person may offer personal advice without being covered by one. And the OFT does revoke licences, so the terms of the licence are important.
It is worth writing to the licence section of the OFT complaining of the hike in rates that you have experienced and again using the terms unfair and unreasonable. If you want to specify any particular part of the licence you feel has been breached it is worth going to the OFT website and reading the guidelines. But it is essentially enough to point out this action is a misuse of any powers the company has, and the matter needs to be examined by the OFT.
Any complaint is taken seriously by them, but a lot of complaints is even better!
Regulations. The regulations arm of the OFT is very concerned with the concept of unfairness in relations between companies and customers, and this applies right across the world of business activity, not just finance.
It does recognise unfair advantage as being a very bad thing for companies to make use of. The Consumer Protection Regulations 2008 are pretty comprehensive and have 31 practices that are out and out considered not acceptable, and has a deal of other regulation with the emphasis that the regulations are not limited to the letter of the paragraphs but are concerned with the spirit of them.
This is a tremendous advance on petty legal approaches; it means that companies are expected to acknowledge a moral sphere to their actions. Not just what the words say, but the underlying meaning too.
In contacting this section you should emphasise that the company has taken unfair advantage by its force majeure imposition of an interest hike that is not justified by anything you have done, nor by any national change in interest rates.
The address of the OFT is
Office of Fair Trading
Fleetbank House
2-6 Salisbury Square
London EC4 8JX

Mark the outside of your envelope Credit Licence or Regulations 2008 and the letter will find its way to the right section. You will probably get a letter back saying the OFT does not deal with individual cases, but that the complaint has been logged on their records. And that latter is what you want.
The more the better.
See also Interest Rate Action 1 of 3 – Complain which deals with the complaints procedure of the creditor company and Interest Rate Action 3 of 3 – Complain Which deals with the Financial Services Authority.

Joseph Harris
Debt Control Man