England will win the World Cup Before Banks Admit to Excessive Credit card Charges

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"I have now received a reply from (your credit card provider). It says it does not accept that its charges are unlawful or unfair. … It accepts no liability, but nonetheless says it will pay £907 (plus interest of £247.52) to settle the dispute. They say that its offer represents a full refund of all the charges [and interest] that your client disputes …."

settle the matter to (the client's) satisfaction.

Consumer finance expert and director of Claim 2 Gain, Matthew Whiting, is calling for greater accountability in the finance sector: "It is remarkable that banks and finance companies are still getting away with nothing short of deceit; they rarely admit or officially record liability for excessive credit card charges and mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance (PPI), even when they are clearly at fault. It is time the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) stopped this nonsense and called them to account."

Claim 2 Gain handles claims about mis-sold financial products on behalf of clients and in our experience the overwhelming majority of banks never admit fault; instead they simply offer a "gesture of goodwill" and hope that this will "settle the matter to (the client's) satisfaction." This must change because if the banks do not officially uphold a complaint, but only offer a 'gesture of goodwill', they don't have to record that the complaint was upheld and they were at fault. This hides the truth. It saves the bank's reputation but leaves the FSA and the public in the dark.

"Finance companies have been hiding the true scope of their dodgy dealings in this way for years. Banks were also making 'goodwill gestures' in response to bank charges claims long before PPI was a known problem," says Whiting.

Case study

When making a recent claim against an established UK bank for excessive credit card charges, Claim 2 Gain received a letter (17 August 2007) from the bank which refused to admit fault but nevertheless said:

"I've reviewed the account and as a gesture of goodwill, I'd like to offer to reduce the fees we've charged to £12 each. This amount totals £307. "

"This letter and the language used is an all too common response," says Matthew Whiting.

In this instance, the 'goodwill gesture' was completely inadequate. The customer had been charged an unjustifiable amount and was entitled to a refund of the full value of the claim. After Claim 2 Gain complained to the Ombudsman, the bank did offer a full refund of the amount claimed, but still blatantly refused to accept any fault. A letter received from the Financial Ombudsman Service on 21 December 2007 regarding this case said:

"I have now heard from (your credit card provider). It says it does not accept that its charges are unlawful or unfair. But following my intervention it has told me that it would prefer to settle the complaint as an alternative to our formal investigation. It accepts no liability, but nonetheless says it will pay £907 [plus interest of £247.52] to settle the dispute. [It] tells us that its offer represents a full refund of all the charges [and interest] that your client disputes in their complaint and meets their claim. I assume they will find this acceptable."

"Why would major credit card provider offer a complete refund for charges they claim were completely legitimate? There is no incentive for the bank to refund money if it has not done anything wrong. No company would remain profitable if it bowed to every hollow accusation. It is therefore logical to conclude that this bank was at fault in this instance and they knew it. They refused to admit fault and instead offered a 'goodwill gesture'; it protects their books, and, given the current laissez faire attitude of the FOS, they can get away with it. Sadly, this case study is typical of how the banks operate, and the FOS and the FSA are both turning a blind eye," Matthew Whiting says.

"Previously with pensions and endowment claims, offending companies were much more wiling to admit fault and detailed the reasons why they were accepting liability. It seems that now with PPI and credit card charges, the FSA is complicit to the more dismissive attitude finance companies have towards consumer rights," says Matthew Whiting.

You may be entitled to a full refund on unjustifiable credit card charges or mis-sold PPI. To find out more visit: http://www.claim2gain.co.uk or call Claim 2 Gain on 0845 618 9070.

For further information, please contact:
Amanda Goodchild or David Hanson, PR consultants at Adams Creative:
Tel:     01622 687729
Fax:    01622 688357
Email:    amanda(at)adamscreative.co.uk or david(at)adamscreative.co.uk

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