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ombudsman news

issue 72

September/October 2008

ask ombudsman news

cutting the cost of calls

We're seeing a marked increase in the number of consumers consulting us about financial difficulties. And we're advising more of our clients to take complaints about aspects of the affordability of loans and debt collection to the ombudsman service. What's the cheapest way for them to contact you, without racking up big phone bills they can ill-afford-

a debt-advice charity asks ...

For BT customers phoning us from a "landline" (fixed line), it will usually be cheapest to phone our consumer helpline on 0845 080 1800. For these consumers, calls shouldn't cost more than 4p a minute - wherever in the UK they are calling from. We subsidise the cost of running this phone line. And the number should make it easy to remember and to dial.

Around 13% of those who call us do so on their mobile phones. For mobile users - especially people using "pay-as-you go" phones - it will usually be cheaper to call our consumer helpline on 020 7964 0500. This may also be the cheaper number to call for people who aren't BT customers. And the number will be "free" for people who pay a monthly charge for calls to numbers starting 01 and 02.

We always stress that consumers who are worried about the cost of phoning us can ask us to take their number and call them back.

PPI mis-sales - should redress take benefit of cover into account-

I am dealing with a customer's complaint about payment protection insurance that we sold in similar circumstances to those of Mr and Mrs J, outlined in issue 71 of ombudsman news (case 71/02).

I understand why the ombudsman upheld that complaint. However, it seems that the redress ordered did not take account of the fact that Mr and Mrs J had had the benefit of cover under the policy for a period. I would be interested in your comments on this.

a lender firm asks ...

Our approach to redress for the mis-sale of payment protection insurance (PPI) policies is broadly that the consumer should be put back in the position they would have been in, if the mis-sale had not taken place.

In most circumstances, where someone selling an insurance policy has failed to point out significant relevant features, the buyer can, in law, decide to cancel the policy and be returned to the position they were in before the sale.

We take a similar view. We frequently provide for consumers to get back the premium, plus any other amounts they have paid (such as interest on loans to cover the cost of the premium).

In most of our work on PPI mis-sales, we can see that the consumer would not have bought the policy, had relevant features been pointed out. This was the position in the case of Mr and Mrs J, in case 71/02 in the previous issue of ombudsman news.

 

image of ombudsman news

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.