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Wizard of ID

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  1. First, I don't possess a credit card, and never have. So this is not a credit card debt. Second, I don't approve of the methods of DCA's and don't trust them an inch. If they were to clean up their act, I would probably be more willing to consider paying up. Under the circumstances, however, respectability is a two-way street. Trust begets trust. Honesty begets honesty. morality begets morality. The typical DCA is in no position to lecture anybody. This is almost certainly not a debt owed to Cabot, which is a name I had never heard of before, but one they have purchased from another organisation that had written the debt off. Obviously Cabot is not a charity and intends to make a profit on this transaction, so it is either demanding more than the actual debt, or it bought the debt for a fraction of its value. Either way, they are demanding more (probably far more) than it cost them. This debt was contracted years ago; at least six years ago but probably more like ten or fifteen. The original contractor hasn't bothered following it up in all that time. To suddenly pop up years later, inconveniencing me with threats and law suits for something the contractor wasn't interested in at the time is unfair. Even the Trading Standards people think this is unfair, which is why their guidelines proscribe precisely this kind of behaviour. It may simply be a mistake, at which point the DCA will start insisting that I furnish all manner of proofs of my innocence. Apart from the implied presumption of guilt, which I find offensive, it's all highly inconvenient, time-consuming and stressful, but I know from experience that I won't get so much as an apology from the DCA for falsely accusing me. At the time of this demand, I'd just got through an exhausting two-year battle with npower over a prize piece of semi-legal skullduggery, in which the ombudsman ruled against and sharply criticised npower and its methods. Under the circumstances, therefore, I really don't care about Cabot or any other DCA, and the whole lot of them can go to hell so far as I'm concerned.
  2. You've got that right! I was with npower against my every desire for about two years. I posted a long thread about it here. And they are crooks; absolute crooks. In terms of regulation, you could complain to the ombudsman, which I found was quite efficient, and awarded me a small sum of compensation for npower's lamentable customer service and lack of professionalism. It wasn't much, but it was very satisfying.
  3. Well, they didn't exactly say, "No further correspondence can be entered into," but they are refusing to say anything further. This is the letter I received today: "I feel that i have provided you with detailed responses in my letters dated 16 November and 1 December 2009 and am unable to add anything further. My letter dated 2 November 2009 notified you of the removal of the facility from your account and we agreed to the refund of the £20 fee, as a one-off gesture. Any further correspondence regarding the issue will be placed on file and as previously advised you still have the right to contact the Financial Ombudsman Service ... You should notice if you decide to pursue this matter with the Ombudsman, you should do so within six months from the date of my letter dated 2 November 2009" So basically, they have no justification nor apology for presuming to act in loco parentis of their adult customers, witholding information that their customers need to make financial decisions, deceiving their customers, substantially raising their overdraft rates without informing their customers, and generally acting in a manner not in keeping with a relationship of trust. Sounds like a good one for the Ombudsman, or at least, it would do if so many other people on this forum hadn't had such a poor experience with the Financial Services Ombudsman. What do you think I should do?
  4. Well, it's taken some time -- Nationwide isn't exactly forthcoming among its operations, as I've noted before. However, if you persist and you go high enough, answers do apparently start to emerge. Here is their explanation so far: "...the facility is commonly known as a shadow overdraft and as previously mentioned, it is a facility which seeks to offer some flexibility to customers to allow certain payments to be paid which would otherwise have been returned unpaid. We do this in the best interests of the customers, because we feel it is more beneficial for them to allow the payments to be made rather than cause the unnecessary embarassment of payments being declined. We do not notify customers of their shadow overdraft limit or seek their agreement for this, although not all customers will have a shadow limit, and the limit itself is regularly reviewed taking into account a number of factorssuch as those mentioned in my previous letter. Hasten to say [sic] the principle of the shadow limit is that it is the overdraft limit we would provide a customer with if applied for, and we genuinely believe it is better for customers to be able to use such a facility to avoid unpaid item charges, which are considerably higher than the unauthorised overdraft fee levied when a shadow overdraft is used." There was a time when banks insisted their staff understood the basics of English grammar. However, this is the reply I have sent them: "First, I would note that your comment “We do this in the best interest of our customers” betrays an almost fantastic degree of presumption on your part. Who are you to decree without our knowledge what is or is not in our best interests? Are we children to be nannied and have our noses wiped? By what right do you assert this authority to act in loco parentis of grown, mature adults? By what right do you withhold information from them, denying them an opportunity to exercise responsibility for themselves? Your explanation implies such astonishing arrogance, I have immense difficulty believing it can be the true reason. You are all the more contemptible if it is. The best interest of the customers is in being provided with adequate information to make up their own minds! What is your justification for such absurd and intolerable conceit? Secondly, when you wrote to me in 2008, telling me that you were withdrawing my overdraft, the reason you gave was that I did not have sufficient regular income to qualify for one. Please clarify this in the light of your statement: “not all customers will have a shadow limit … the principle of a shadow overdraft is that it is the overdraft limit we would provide a customer with if applied for.” If my income disqualified me from having a regular overdraft facility, how was I qualified to have the shadow overdraft that you did not withdraw? In reality, your claim to have withdrawn my overdraft was a lie, was it not? Despite your letter, you had not withdrawn my ability to go overdrawn at all. You had merely withdrawn my ability to do it cheaply. That is your right, but your failure to explain this, coupled with your insistence that I repay the balance of my overdraft immediately, can only have been calculated to convey an impression that was deceptive and wholly inappropriate in a fiduciary relationship. You withheld information that was crucial to my ability to make financial decisions, and you did it in a manner that was at best incompetent, but more likely, was wilfully deceptive. As a result, I assumed (perfectly reasonably, I think) that I was no longer permitted to go overdrawn, and that when my balance reached zero, cash machines would stop spitting out money, and debit transactions would be declined. This was not the case, although you failed to inform me of that fact – apparently in my “best interests” – and you got to rake in some big, fat charges without my understanding, knowledge or agreement. Why should you not refund them to me in full? Furthermore, given that the only way I could repay my overdraft balance at such short notice was by withdrawing cash against my wife’s credit card, why should you not also refund her credit-card charges and interest?" I will, of course, update you all when I get a valid response.
  5. Well, it's taken a while, but I've finally managed to get a partial explanation from Nationwide concerning these transactions that are funded despite the account containing insufficent funds to cover it. I have to state that Nationwide seems hardly eager to explain itself. I've had to write twice -- their first answer was a cop-out, their second fails to address some rather glaring questions. However, Nationwide's first letter said that they will "occasionally" approve a transaction so that the customer is not inconvenienced. I replied that so far as I can tell, there's nothing "occasional" about it -- it's actually routine and normal, so far as I can tell. Nationwide's second letter failed to comment. Nationwide has said that it is the customer's responsibility to monitor his account balance, and keep his spending within approved limits. My reaction was: "the customer is at best an imperfect calculator, while Nationwide has a perfect calculator in its computer system. However, when a customer is about to enact a transaction that will overdraw his account, you make no effort to discover whether he is content to incur your charges, nor do you give him an opportunity to reconsider. Instead, you take advantage of the very real possibility that he may have made an error to extend to him a loan of which he is unaware, and for which he has neither applied nor agreed to accept, at an immense cost to him. Your charges are anything but open and transparent in this regard ... A desire to avoid embarrassing or inconveniencing the customer would be noble if Nationwide took measures to alert him to the consequences of proceeding with his purchase; or if it acted swiftly to warn him after the event, giving him a period of grace in which to fund his account at negligible cost. As things stand, Nationwide only informs the customer as a matter of leisurely routine when it is already too late for the customer to avoid Nationwide’s charges. This despite the fact that it is entirely within Nationwide’s ability to issue a computer-generated phone call or letter quickly and at next-to-no expense. " Although it stated that alerting a customer when making a debit-card purchase is impractical (which is probably fair comment), Nationwide has not explained why it cannot do this when withdrawing cash (it would need only require a fairly minor addition to the software -- it could probably be programmed within a couple of hours), or why they can't offer the period of grace I mentioned. Nor did Nationwide respond to my request that they justify their apparent conflict of interest. What really interests me, however, is a statement in their second letter: "I have arranged for the facility to be removed from your account so you should no longer be able to withdraw funds or make payments when you have insufficient funds in your account." So this is a facility, like a regular overdraft, that is added to the account (without the customer's knowledge) and can be removed. This is not a computer glitch -- it is entirely deliberate. In which case, how is it not an agreed overdraft? If it is an agreed overdraft, why do they charge so much more than they would for an agreed overdraft? Nationwide has also failed to respond to a third question: I asked how they justified their conflict of interest with the trust implied by a fiduciary relationship. According to Wikipedia, "In such a relation good conscience requires one to act at all times for the sole benefit and interests of another, with loyalty to those interests ... he must not put his personal interests before the duty, and must not profit from his position as a fiduciary, unless the principal consents." Black's Law Dictionary further states that "taking advantage of the forgetfulness or negligence of the client are totally prohibited by a fiduciary." So, although it might be the customer's responsibility to monitor his account balance, Nationwide cannot make a profit if he fails to do so. In which case, they shouldn't be imposing draconian charges and extortionate interest rates for a facility that is materially no different from a regular overdraft. This is a different twist on the charges argument, and I am dying to take it up with Nationwide. However, I'm not a lawyer. Before I risk making a fool of myself, can anyone tell me whether an ordinary current account, such as a Nationwide Flexaccount, constitutes a fiduciary relationship? I'm fairly certain it does, but it's been fifteen years since I studied contractual law at uni. I'd appreciate a confirmation from anyone who's studied it more recently than I have.
  6. Just got a letter from Clarity Collections, Cabot Financial's DCA, saying the following: "I refer to your letter dated 1st September. "We are aware of the Limitation Act and the guidance provided by the Office of Fair Trading in this respect. neither questions the right of a creditor to seek repayment of a contractual debt on a voluntary basis. As I'm sure you appreciate, many people honour their contracts irrespective of whether there is a legal remedy to enforce. "Given the circumstances, however, I can confirm that we will be returning this account to our client and you will receive no further communication from Clarity." So the Consumer Action Group gets to chalk up another success!!!!! Thank you again for your advice, CerberusAlert, which is doubly appreciated, given the circumstances. It's a bit rich for Clarity to pretend they were merely inviting me to do the honourable thing, when their previous letter was threatening to sue me, seize my possessions, etc. But that merely adds to the satisfaction of victory!
  7. If you agree to agree to accept £28 in full and final settlement, that means the bank's off the hook and doesn't have to offer you any more. That's a really, really, really REALLY baaaaaaad deal. Don't even think about it! Regretably, hardship does not oblige Nationwide to anything except to consider your claim. They don't have to pay out. They just have to stop refusing to review it on the grounds that they're waiting for the results of the test case. If you tell Nationwide that you want to expedite your claim on the grounds of hardship, they will send you a two-page form to complete -- it's not dificult, and just asks for your monthly incomings and outgoings. It goes without saying you should (without lying) massage these figures to your advantage in every way you can. In my case, my wife has a large income that goes into a separate account in a different bank -- we didn't tell Nationwide about that, since the form didn't ask about it. We pay our gas and electricity every three months, but we just quoted the entire quarterly figure, instead of dividing it into three. Along with various other tricks, we made it look like we were living in a cardboard box, eating nothing but mouldy bread and drinking river water! That is by no means representative of our circumstances, but Nationwide doesn't need to know that. They don't think twice about taking advantage of us, so quid pro quo! They will then review your form to see if it falls within the FSO's guidelines. This website tells you what they are, in plain English: Bank Charges Hardship: Reclaim NOW inc template letters... If you qualify, they will then consider your claim, but they may just come back telling you to get lost. At that point, you can live it (although that's exactly what they want you to do), or you can fight them, and that website will tell you exactly how to go about it. But reclaiming your charges is not an instant cash scheme. You need to do a lot of work, and it can take a long time. Alternatively, you can wait for the results of the test case, which has been encouraging so far. But that's not likely to get resolved any time soon. Sorry I can't be of more help.
  8. The other thing to remember is that, having declared bankruptcy and (from their point of view) caused the lender to lose their money, it is unlikely that you will obtain credit again, even after you've been discharged. That means: no mortgage, no car, no storecards, certainly no credit cards, probably not even a rented flat from a reputable landlord. If you get a council house, you will probably have a hard time furnishing it. Think about all the things you've bought on credit in the last few years, and try imagining going without those. Bankruptcy and IVA's are often presented as an easy way out. They can certainly be a quick and easy way to get rid of your debts in the short term, but they have painful long-term consequences. If I understand right, you're not even entitled to a bank account, which may make it difficult to get any sort of a job. A better way might be to contact the lender and explain your position. Tell them that the maximum you can afford to repay is £x a month. They may try to talk your offer up, but be very careful in assessing beforehand how much you can afford, because if you fail to keep your word, they're entitled to press for full and immediate repayment, seizing assets, etc. The other thing you might consider, if you know where your ex lives, is a law suit through the small-claims court. This does not need to be a costly or drawn-out process, although there is a maximum limit to the amount you can claim. You can file online, add the costs of filing to your complaint, and I believe an automatic judgement is made against the defendant if he fails to respond within 14 days. One warning: the court will only make a judgement, giving you the right to commence a collections procedure (appointing a bailiff to seize his assets, for example) against him. Anyway, this will tell you all about it: http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/infoabout/claims/index.htm You can also look up the Citizens Advice Bureau website, which has a long page about it. As for the much-maligned CSA, I don't believe it's there to top up the benefits to which you're entitled, is it? I've never needed any direct involvement with them, but my understanding is that they only pursue the fathers to pay their fair share of the child's upbringing to the benefits agencies. The mother receives what she's entitled to through the benefits system, regardless of whether her ex is paying or not. Even when the CSA does successfully collect from the father, the mother doesn't receive any extra income to her benefits. I didn't think the CSA is supposed to be an intermediary in transfering money from the father's bank account into the mother's.
  9. Hey everybody, look at me playing the world's smallest violin!!!! I know it would be a really bad thing for them to go into meltdown, but they've been such sheisters for so many years, I find it very hard indeed not to crave such retribution, and damn the consequences! May I be blessed to live long enough to see the CEO of Nationwide in jail! And I hope he gets raped. As for your arrears, they can of themselves be regarded as a sign of hardship. I don't know enough of your situation to comment, but have a read of this site: Bank Charges Hardship: Reclaim NOW inc template letters... Personally, I think a little financial engineering (or even quite a lot!) is justified when dealing with these thieves.
  10. Here's another good site: Bank Charges Hardship: Reclaim NOW inc template letters... Wait for Nationwide to respond telling you they're not paying out until the test case results are in. Then phone them asking them to send you a Statement of Means. This is a two-page form in which you fill out your incomings and outgoings every month. You complete this and return it to them to get them to consider your appeal for hardship. It goes without saying that you mark down as many outgoings and the minimum of incomings that you can possibly get away with. Looking at mine, you'd have said it's a miracle that we're not begging on the streets by now! The guidelines that constitute hardship basically mean that you will probably qualify if you can show a number of things: Are there regular payments going into the account? If not, you probably qualify, so see if you can't have your paychecks paid in somewhere else. Are items repeatedly being returned for lack of funds. This is a bit silly -- if they weren't being repeatedly returned, you wouldn't have reason to claim! Do you repeatedly exceed your overdraft or credit limit without agreement? You can, of course, take steps to "improve" your record so that it qualifies better. That does, of course, mean that you'll probably rack up some more charges. In principle, if they've imposed more than about £500 in charges on you in the last twelve months, that should be considered as hardship. Bear in mind that they only have to consider your claim. They don't actually have to pay it! But you can then press on to the ombudsman, which alone will cost the Nationwide a few hundred quid. Anyway, have a read of that website. It'll tell you all about it.
  11. Claim hardship, if you can, to force them to expedite your claim. Bank Charges Hardship: Reclaim NOW inc template letters...
  12. Interesting. Are you saying that Nationwide knowingly lets people overdraw their accounts, in order to give Nationwide an excuse to charge them for it? I do hope so! I'm going to Nationwide's "Talkback" meeting in Cardiff in November, where the public gets to put questions to the executives. This would be a good one!!!!
  13. If it's a first, you can try writing a grovelling letter, saying that you're in a vicious circle that will ultimately bankrupt you, and promising to be a good boy for evermore if they give you a break. It worked for me once. Don't try to do it be phone, whatever you do. Nobody can tell you to get lost like a Nationwide call-centre noddy.
  14. You could appeal to the ombudsman on the grounds or reasonability and proportionality. I've heard he upholds over 50% of the complaints he receives about Nationwide. Even if the ombudsman decides in Nationwide's favour, you at least have the grim satisfaction of knowing that the investigation cost Nationwide a few hundred pounds. Alternatively, here's a suggestion taht may or may not be of value, since it concerns Npower rather than Nationwide. However, the general principles are the same. Npower stiched me up for a bundle of charges that I felt were unfair. So I complained, pointing out that the law forbids profiting from the remedy to a breach of contract (this is the whole issue in the test case), which means, technically, that they cannot charge you more than their genuine administrative costs. So I demanded a breakdown of what I was being charged for. I told them I did not believe their charges reflected their true costs, and that they were, in fact, making a profit from their charges, which the law forbids them to do. I told them that I therefore wanted a breakdown of their costs of administering my account, showing how their costs equalled the value of their charges. It went without saying that I wasn't going to get it, but the longer I persisted, the more rope I gave them to hang themselves. I kept it up for two years between 2006 and 2008. During that time, I gathered together some lovely, embarassing dirt against them, including a note of how many times I'd asked each question without receiving an answer. By the end, I was writing things like: "Please show me how the total of your charges equals the total administrative costs to you (this is the eighth time I have asked for this information)." And they'd write back rather obviously fobbing me off, yet again. I could almost see the poor, underpaid clerk at the other muttering, "Oh ****" as he tried to figure out how he was going to squirm his way out of this one!!!!! The closest they got to an answer on their costs was that their charges not only included the administrative costs, but also the cost of issuing "numerous reminder notices." Thank you the information, I replied; would they therefore be sure to include in their breakdown the cost of printing a computer-generated letter, the power necessary to run the letter through a folding machine, and the cost of postage! I kept all this information and planned to use it in court against them. In the end, I actually took it to the ombudsman, who ruled that their refusal to answer my questions constituted an inadequate standard of service, ordered them to drop all their charges, and give me a goodwill payment of £50. Very satisfying!!! If they had issued a summons against me, my defence would have been that I did not believe that their total charges equal their costs, that it had consistently avoided justifying their charges against me, and that if the court upheld their claim, it could be enacting a breach of the law. I stated that I was happy to pay whatever charges they could justify as being within the law, but unwilling to allow them to extort money they had no right to. Unless they were willing to explain their costs to the court (and no company will reveal its cost structure publicly -- that would be a dream come true to their competitors), I don't see how a court could reasonably uphold their claim. Like I said, that was all to do with Npower, so maybe Nationwide is different. I don't know. But since I'm about to do something similar, I'm just tossing it out there as a suggestion.
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