A consumer asked a business to close his trading account to stop him dealing online. But he was disappointed with what the business did next, so came to us.
Harry told us he opened a trading account. Sometime after he opened the account, he called the business to let them know that he had been using it to enable his gambling addiction. When he spoke to an adviser at the business, he asked them to seal the account so he could no longer deal online.
The business said they couldn’t completely close Harry’s account because he held suspended stock and there were other transactions which hadn’t fully completed. Instead, they offered to temporarily restrict the account instead by agreeing a password with Harry, which he’d have to provide whenever he wanted to unlock the account and trade.
The adviser told Harry to call back after the funds from the shares had cleared. But Harry got back in contact a few days later before the shares had cleared and instructed it to remove the restriction. The business did this without asking any further questions, and Harry began trading again.
Harry complained the business hadn’t protected him from his addiction, enabled him to continue to gamble and exposed him to the risk of losing all his money He wanted the business to refund any losses he’d made.
What we said
From what Harry told us, we were satisfied that he was trading compulsively and having problems managing this. He’d reached agreements with bookmakers and several share-dealing platforms to stop him trading and betting.
We considered the business’s wider obligations – set by the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA’s) Principles for Business (PRIN) and the Conduct of Business Sourcebook (COBS) – to treat customers fairly.
We were satisfied Harry had specifically asked the business to stop him from trading and told them to refuse him if he should then ask them to allow him to. Harry was relying on the business to protect him.
We didn’t think the business had acted in Harry’s best interests, or taken appropriate steps when he told them about his addiction and how this made him vulnerable. We thought the business should have understood that Harry might ask to do something that was against his own interests – as he’d told them he might.
We also thought the business should have made it harder for Harry to go against his previous instruction and trade again. We thought if it had done that – by asking Harry to speak to a family member first, or wait a period of time before confirming his request to unlock the account for example – that Harry wouldn’t have reopened his account and traded again.
We told the business to pay Harry £500 compensation for the distress and inconvenience it had caused by unrestricting his account and allowing him to continue to gamble.
We also asked the business to refund Harry for any commission – or other remuneration – it had received from his trading. We said this should be backdated to when they’d become aware of his addiction, and that they should add 8% simple interest.
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