Rebecca took out a car loan in 2013. She struggled to keep up with her loan repayments after her circumstances changed and her expenses increased in 2014. After running into issues with overdue payments, Rebecca decided to voluntarily surrender the car to the lender in 2015.
Rebecca wasn’t happy with the way the lender had managed her loan account and dealt with her in respect of her outstanding payments, or with the communication and delays around surrendering the vehicle. However, she didn’t make any complaint after the car was collected by the lender, and she didn’t hear from them again.
In early 2022, two court bailiffs arrived at Rebecca’s house and served her with court papers for a claim that related to an outstanding debt of $10,000 for the car loan.
Rebecca called the lender and explained that she was unaware that she had an outstanding debt, and that she thought the loan was unaffordable in the first place. Rebecca also told the lender that she had been badly frightened by the bailiffs showing up at her house unannounced, because she has a protection order against an ex-partner, and she thought it was him at her door.
The lender looked into the debt and realised that it was too old for them to pursue Rebecca for it, under the timeframes set out in the Limitation Act 2010. The lender apologised to Rebecca and told her that it would withdraw the court claim.
Rebecca wasn’t satisfied with the lender’s apology for all the stress they had caused her. Rebecca wanted compensation for the impact the lender’s error had on her, but the lender did not offer her any compensation.
Rebecca referred her complaint to FSCL.
The lender thought that withdrawing the court claim and apologising to Rebecca was a fair response in the circumstances.
Rebecca disagreed because she had been frightened by the bailiffs showing up at her house and inconvenienced by having to contact the lender to make sure she wasn’t being pursued for the debt. Rebecca thought she deserved some compensation as well.
We contacted the lender and outlined the details of Rebecca’s complaint. We also detailed the reasons why Rebecca wanted some compensation in order to resolve the complaint.
The lender replied and acknowledged the inconvenience Rebecca had suffered due to its error. The lender explained that it had reconsidered its position and wanted to offer Rebecca $500 as compensation.
We put the lender’s offer of $500 to Rebecca, but she didn’t accept it. We told the lender that Rebecca had declined its offer, and we gave it the option to increase it. The lender didn’t want to increase the offer and asked us to make a decision on the complaint.
Before starting a decision, we went back to Rebecca and gave her our informal view on the lender’s offer. We explained that the offer appeared to be a fair offer in the circumstances, and we gave Rebecca the opportunity to think about it further and come back to us.
Rebecca reconsidered the lender’s offer and said that she would accept it, so the complaint was resolved.
Insights for participants
The above case is an example of a ‘simple resolution’ where FSCL has acted as a go-between to help resolve a complaint.
Where a participant makes an offer early on in our process, we will put the offer to the consumer to try and help the parties agree to a settlement. When this is successful, the need to escalate the complaint through our process and for us to manage more intensive negotiations or write a decision, is avoided.
Because we are independent from both the participant and the consumer, FSCL can be instrumental in assisting with the quick settlement of simple disputes where the relationship between the parties has broken down.