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ombudsman news

issue 112

September 2013

Q&As

featuring questions raised recently with our free, expert helpline for businesses and advice workers

talk to us

I work for an advice centre. One of my clients is visually impaired - and she can't fill in your complaint form. What can she do?

We work hard to make sure that there are no barriers to using our service. The simplest way might be to call us on 0300 123 9 123. We will be able to fill in the form using the details that your client gives us. We can then send the form out for her to sign. We can also supply information about our service in several different formats like Braille, large print and audiotape.

We always encourage our customers - both consumers and businesses - to let us know as soon as possible if there is anything we can do to meet their communication needs.

loan trouble

I work for Citizens Advice and one of my clients is in real trouble after taking out payday lending. She already had three payday loans - all of which had been rolled over - when she was approved for £300 by yet another lender. They didn't ask for any ID or check whether she could afford it. All she had to do was give an address and mobile phone number. She can't afford to pay any of the loans. Shouldn't they be written off?

The lender should have made sure that your client could afford the loan before they approved it. The Consumer Finance Association made this clear in its Good Practice Charter - and it's certainly something we would expect the payday lender to have done.

We would also check whether the lender had looked at your client's payment history. This would have been especially relevant here - because she had other loans that she was struggling to repay. This would probably have been a good indicator that she might not be able to manage more lending.

However, writing off the loans might not be the best way to sort this out. Your client has benefited from the money that she borrowed, so it might be fair for the business to freeze the interest and arrange an affordable repayment plan with her.

The business should also stop contacting her for 30 days to give her some breathing space. But remember this is a two-way street. Your client needs to let the business know that she is having trouble paying and is seeking advice about her debt.

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ombudsman news gives general information on the position at the date of publication. It is not a definitive statement of the law, our approach or our procedure.

The illustrative case studies are based broadly on real-life cases, but are not precedents. Individual cases are decided on their own facts.