Marc Gander - The Consumer Survival Handbook

A 220 page introduction to all things consumer related by our own BankFodder.

Includes energy companies, mobile phone providers, retailers, banks, insurance companies,debt collection agencies, reclaim companies, secondhand car sellers, cowboy garages, cowboy builders and all the rest who put their own profits before you.


Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide

An excellent guide for the layperson in how to use the County Court - a must if you are intending to start a claim.

£19.99 + £1.50 (P&P)

  • Banking:Conduct of Business Regulations - The Hidden Rules?

    BCOB - Could BCOBSicon be the rules that nobody wants you to know about?
    The Banking:Conduct of Business Regs make it illegal for your bank to treat you unfairly and give you the right to sue them in the county court if they do.

    It may seem rather amazing that the regulatory process, which is meant to be on the side of consumers, has produced a set of rules which is intended to protect consumers, and yet that same regulatory process may be reluctant to let us know about them.

    But that is the conclusion that one is faced with when one examines the new Banking: Conduct of Business regulations which are contained in the FSA Handbook.

    In fact, it is wrong to say that these regulations are new. They are over two years old. They were introduced to replace The Banking Codeicon of Practice -- that discredited and largely useless so-called voluntary code which the banks like to trumpet around and which the Financial Ombudsmanicon might enforce from time to time in such a half-hearted manner.

    In fact it is no coincidence that the Banking Code of Practice, used by the banks to legitimate and validate their shabby treatment of their own customers, was so widely and willingly publicised by them, whilst the Banking: Conduct of Business regulations -- potentially such a powerful weapon in the hands of a motivated consumer, seem to be hidden away by the banking industry like some dirty little secret.

    The power of BCOB lies in the fact that it creates very general obligations to treat customers fairly -- and also that it gives individual customers the right to sue their banks in the County Court when they have acted unfairly towards you.

    This is not something your bank really wants you to know about. Try calling into your local branch and asking them about the BCOB regulations, or if they can supply you with a copy.
    Let us know if you get more than blank faces

    Of course it would be quite unfair to say that there had never been anything written about the private right of action. there has but these have tended to be in commentaries by academic institutions or by firms of solicitors - not exactly the kinds of places where ordinary consumers might normally look.
    The FSA has not referred to your direct right to sue in the courts in its Know Your Rights Guide. It merely says that you should either write to your bank or else go to the Ombudsman.

    Have they really hidden it? well they certainly haven't been very forthcoming.

    The British Banking Association has produced an Industry Guide on their website. Firstly, it's not a consumer guide. It's a guide for industry. No matter. It's written in clear enough language so that it is easily accessible to ordinary consumers as well. We could say that as a Consumer Guide -- it'll do.

    The problem is that it really doesn't tell the truth about the BCOB rules and about all the ways in which banks should act fairly; it just doesn't tell the whole story. In a way, the BBA Industry Guide is more limited than the Code but tends to follow the same path so that it is capable of giving the impression that it is just another version of the Banking Code.

    The BBA guide tries to give itself some authority by including BCOB source material in its original form after its plain English version.

    Of course, the BBA acts in the interests of banks. It doesn't act in the interests of consumers. So maybe it is not surprising that they don't want consumers to know all about BCOB.

    But this is an Industry Guide. Why on earth wouldn't they want to explain to their own members exactly what they have been saddled with by the FSA? Could it be that we are dealing with some kind of trickery here?

    Forgive me for being cynical but it crosses my mind that the reason that the BBA wants to publish a dumbed down version of the BCOB requirements on its publicly accessible website is because it is well aware that Consumers will be eavesdropping on its site and may form the opinion "well if this is what the BBA is telling its own members about BCOB, then it must be true."

    I'm sure that this is just fanciful and uncharitable thinking on my part.

    Of course, I am struck by the fact that the BBA has not pointed out to its industry members that under these new FSA regulations, the Customer has a private right of action. Mind you, they might consider that this is the equivalent of giving a loaded gun to a child.

    Not to worry. We would expect the BBA to want to protect their members, so nothing is really a surprise there.

    Luckily for us the FSA has produced a guide as well. It is a consumer-facing guide -- which is what we would expect, isn't it? Because the FSA is there to protect our interests. Not only that, it is the FSA which has produced the BCOB regulations and surely they must be proud of their work and they want the world to know.

    So what a shock to find that the FSA guide is also a Janet-and-John explanation of some of the effects of the new BCOB regulations and which fails completely to give any idea of the sheer breadth of the BCOB provisions.

    To read the FSAguide, you would be forgiven for thinking that they had explained the entire package and that there was nothing else on the table.

    Most sensational all as far as I'm concerned, is that even the FSA omits to point out that individual customers are entitled to take their own court actions against offending banks rather than have to wait all day for the FOS to get a move on.
    The FSA does mention your right to take court action in another guide called How to Complain - but they suggest Court action as a last resort. We disagree. Unfortunately the banks are so abusive of the Ombudsman process - and the Ombudsman is so under-resourced and half-hearted anyway, that we recommend Court action as an early option. We aren't happy that this should be the case but we have found that it is very effective.

    So you judge. Have a look at the available information on the Internet: on the BBA site: on the FSA site: and anywhere else. Do you think that's all there is? Do you think that we consumers are getting a fair shake on the new fairness obligations?

    BBA Industry Guide to BCOBS

    FSA Guide to BCOBS

    How to Complain

    Comments 11 Comments
    1. jesushelpme1479's Avatar
      jesushelpme1479 -
      Oh boy how many times have i complained about my lenders and how many times have i been ignored always i wanted to go straight to the court which is where they always take me and here you are saying this THANKYOU going to tell everyone, why are we being treated like this by the very things which are suppose to be helping us? how about we all start to protest together join up at offices and make the scene they dont want to see happen. time to put the shoe on the other foot, enough is enough we just need our homes unlike them, they just want them taken by whatever means and the law lets them, why does the court system make me feel like i am nothing. i need a miracle of miracles to get me out of this mess

    1. BankFodder's Avatar
      BankFodder -
      Just bring your own action. Get your own result - and then tell everyone else about it here.
      That's the way to get other people to join in

    1. NCND's Avatar
      NCND -
      Just found out that our mortgage is being overcharged by Halifax.

      Obtained the evidence by their own admission.

      I have been informed yesterday that I must give themselves a chance to investigate before issuing legal action.

      They were made aware in October 2011 by telephone and email to the CEO of a fault on their system which they admitted they are aware of concerning wrong information on their internet accounts.

      Jauary 2012 and still they have not resolved the issues brought to their attention.

      Good news about how H.M. GOV. bringing in legisalation to stop rewards for failure.

      Lets hope it can be applied retrospectively.

    1. BankFodder's Avatar
      BankFodder -
      Don't forget that you are protected by MCOBS - part of the FSA handbook which applies to mortgages and requires fair treatment. you are also protected by COBS

    1. waronwant's Avatar
      waronwant -
      Does the BCOB also apply to loan companies? And when you are working out interest, do you have to work it out to the insulting 8% rate that is used when FOS work out settlements, or can you apply the - much fairer - rate at the same level as these dishonest banks and financial companies set theirs at? That has always really rubbed me up the wrong way!

    1. BankFodder's Avatar
      BankFodder -
      Quote Originally Posted by waronwant View Post
      Does the BCOB also apply to loan companies? And when you are working out interest, do you have to work it out to the insulting 8% rate that is used when FOS work out settlements, or can you apply the - much fairer - rate at the same level as these dishonest banks and financial companies set theirs at? That has always really rubbed me up the wrong way!
      COBS applies to loan companies. Pretty well the same as BCOBS except no direct right of action so you have to say that COBS is an implied term and then sue on breach of contract. You can try and sue for restitutionary damages instead of the 8%

    1. rdm2006's Avatar
      rdm2006 -
      how do we find a full copy of the BCOBS, MCOBS, and COBS?

      particularly mcobs for me

    1. BankFodder's Avatar
      BankFodder -
      Quote Originally Posted by rdm2006 View Post
      ok on reading MCOBS I have found this

      Now my Mortgage has a Full Indemnity clause which states that court costs for ANY action involving the mortgage are repayable in full.
      there is no exclusion for actions brought about due to the failings of the bank itself thus removing itself from the liability of its own actions.

      is this term, therefore, unlawful under MCOBS????


      My property was repossessed with a shortfall of £XXXXX.

      I entered a counterclaim stating that the amount is incorrect due to (another long story) and this case is still ongoing.

      The bank (and its collection agents) have threatened to take me to court for non payment of this shortfall.

      if it does then all court costs for this new action are due to its own error as the amount is already the subject of the repossession court case.

      However, due to this clause, I am contractually obliged to pay the costs for this new case.
      RDM, please will use a forum thread for this. I'm going to delete your last comment. Sorry

    1. rdm2006's Avatar
      rdm2006 -
      ok BF link is here if you wish to comment

    1. jannercobbler's Avatar
      jannercobbler -
      So are Natwest contriving the BCOB when Direct Debits / Standing order bounces, as these are not shown on Bank Statements?? Although they still charge you for the Declined fee of £6??

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