Sunday, 19 August 2012
THE BANKS CONTINUE TO RUN ROUGH-SHOD OVER CUSTOMERS RECLAIMING PPI
To say that I am sick and tired of the attitude of banks, particularly over their appalling treatment of customers trying to reclaim wrongly sold PPI, would be a gross understatement.
I speak from experience but I know tens of thousands of others are probably being subjected to a similar lack of respect. In my case, the finger is being firmly pointed at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).
When they opened a branch in my neck of the woods many years ago I was one of the first to open an account with them. Compared to my experiences with Barclays, the RBS were like a breath of fresh air, and they continued to be until this whole issue of irregularities occurred over the selling of PPI. Until then, my experiences with RBS had been extremely good. I found the staff to be friendly, knowledgeable and efficient. I had no complaints. And then, under the leadership of Fred Goodwin things started to go wrong ... very wrong. Staff came and went and the levels of service fell. I hardly ever visited the bank without a member of staff trying to sell me a new 'product'. When I extended my meagre business overdraft at my manager's suggestion to something more substantial I was informed that PPI was a compulsory part of the agreement. I didn't argue; after all I trusted and got on exceptionally well with the business advisor assigned to my account. Little did I know then that when I later needed to claim on the payment protection insurance, I was promptly told by RBS that as a self-employed person I did not qualify. Up until then, with the bank never being in any doubt about my self-employed status, they had continued taking hundreds of pounds from me in premium payments over a period of several years.
When the miss-selling of PPI made the headlines I realised that I was entitled to a refund, now amounting to several thousands of pounds. At the start of this year I instigated a claim and by the start of May I received an offer as a 'goodwill gesture'. I completed the documentation accepting the offer and posted the form back to RBS same day. Even though I was angered by their reference to a legitimate refund of money I was entitled to get back being referred to as a 'goodwill gesture' I was, at that time, prepared to ignore it. When the refund hadn't arrived a month or so later I phoned the RBS helpline and was told very quickly by some disinterested individual in the Manchester call centre that my acceptance documents had been lost in the post. There was not even a hint of 'may have' been lost in the post but a definitive pronouncement that appeared to be uttered as a well-rehearsed line he had used a thousand times before to other hapless victims.
The saga continued. Having been told by RBS that a replacement form would be sent in 10-days this failed to arrive; nor did the next one they promised to send when I phoned the call centre again. I followed this with a recorded delivery letter to the person that had signed the original offer but got no response. I telephoned again and was told they had only received my letter the day before even though having checked I knew it had been signed for more than a week earlier. Further attempts to get any sense out of the call centre proved fruitless and after being confronted by own extremely rude individual whose grasp of English was embarrassing, I demanded to speak to a manager. After this character's English suddenly improved I was informed they do not have bosses or anyone else in authority for that matter to speak to at the PPI call centre! Eventually , despite twice being told I would receive an improved offer to account for the poor treatment I have received, a copy of the original offer arrived, that I have now rejected.
Suitably unimpressed, I contacted the Financial Ombudsman Service who offered to write a letter of complaint on my behalf. This was kind of them but in truth the Ombudsman service is a lame duck and has no clout whatsoever over the way these mindless bankers are behaving. But, they did give me a name - someone called Mark Bayliss who is based at the RBS PPI Customer Concerns Team (sic), PO Box 886, 4th Floor, Trinity Quay 1, Bristol BS99 5LJ. I wrote to him, sent the letter recorded delivery on 27 July that was signed for three days later, and guess what ... I have heard nothing.
This exercise merely goes to prove how little regard the banks have for their customers (or, in my case, former customer). In spite of all of the adverse publicity that has surrounded the various concerns over banking practices, these establishments are still getting away with things and are behaving with absolute contempt towards anyone that challenges them.
Isn't it high time that somebody in authority got to grips with this entire disgraceful situation to force the banks to act fairly and with due consideration towards claimants that need the money that has wrongly been taken from them. This is the customers' money ... not the banks. By withholding or delaying refunds the banks are causing considerable hardships. They have a moral, if not legal responsibility to make refunds promptly and fairly and wronged customers should not have to wait many months and be subjected to disgraceful treatment.