When Debbie and Tama first borrowed money from a finance company to buy a car they purchased a repayment waiver, meaning that if they died or were unable to work due to accident or illness the finance company would cover the loan repayments. A little while later Debbie wanted to buy another car, and the finance company agreed to lend to them again. Debbie recalled that the repayment waiver rolled over to the new loan, and that they were still covered for death, accident or illness.
After about six months, Debbie became unwell and Tama contacted the finance company asking to claim against the repayment waiver. The finance company declined the claim, saying that Debbie and Tama had death cover only.
Debbie disagreed and referred her complaint to FSCL.
The finance company explained that the payment waiver had not rolled over from the first loan. When Debbie and Tama refinanced the loan, the unused portion of the payment waiver had been credited to the loan balance. The finance company said, but was unable to support with a written record, that because Tama was no longer working Debbie and Tama had decided to purchase death cover only. The finance company went on to say that the full payment waiver would only cover Debbie and Tama for accident or illness if they were working at the time of the incident. Given that Tama was not working when the loan was refinanced, the finance company considered it would have been irresponsible for it to sell them full cover.
Debbie disagreed, saying they would have never agreed to purchase lesser cover. Debbie also disagreed that Tama was not working when the loan was refinanced.
We reviewed all the information available to us and were satisfied that the finance company had correctly administered the loan. We could not see any basis for the finance company to accept the claim against the payment waiver. We invited Debbie to contact us if she wanted us to help her negotiate a repayment agreement with the finance company.
Debbie called to advise she did not accept our decision. The call quickly deteriorated into abuse, with Debbie swearing and yelling at the case manager. The case manager warned Debbie that her behaviour was unacceptable, but when the abuse continued the case manager terminated the call and referred the complaint to our Chief Executive Officer.
From time to time, during our investigation, Debbie had been difficult to deal with, occasionally yelling at staff and making unreasonable demands. We could understand the difficult position Debbie was in, and were prepared to tolerate some degree of stressful behaviour. However, during the call following the preliminary decision, Debbie crossed the line.
Our Chief Executive Officer wrote to Debbie, referring to paragraph 8.1(d) of our terms of reference, giving notice of her intention her to decline to investigate because Debbie was not pursuing the complaint in a reasonable manner.
Debbie did not respond to our Chief Executive Officer’s letter so we confirmed the decision to decline to investigate the complaint any further.
Insights for consumers
We understand that some people who use our services will be under extreme stress. However, it is never acceptable to abuse our staff. Abusive behaviour affects everyone around you. We will generally give one warning before terminating a call and if the behaviour continues, we will decline to take the complaint further.