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Halifax Customer Abuse


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The debt is £5,800

 

This started back 2004 and is a litany of incoherent procedures; errors; a Halifax ‘systems’ failure cancelling my direct debits - causing ‘charges’, ‘arrears’, threats of default, court action, bailiffs; and, for negociating a lower payment - triggering another string of penalties, charges, ‘arrears’, threatening letters, relentless and harassing phone calls over a period of many months - finally prompting one Halifax caller to say, Dec 5 2007, (recorded on Halifax’s tapes) ‘Yes I can see you’ve been through hell’.

 

That was the last phone call to Halifax when I said ‘Send in the bailiffs, you might even find me hanging’.

That was how I felt and that was how far Halifax had pushed me.

A few weeks ago I got letters from Westcott, bringing back the anxiety and depression. I thought that Halifax, with that last phone call and letters to the head office in Scotland, had realised they’d gone too far and let it go.

So now they’re pushing me again and this time I’m seeking legal help on the grounds of accumulated mental, emotional and physical stress that went on for months.

The main issues 2004 – 2007:

 

Halifax ‘system’ started cancelling my direct debits, causing charges / arrears / threats by letter and phone. Increased errors August 2005.

 

Incorrect loan repayment account number given by Halifax, resulting in more so-called ‘arrears’ threats and reduced credit rating – posting ‘missed payments’ as the reason.

 

Penalisation in the form of ‘arrears’, default notices, unrelenting phone calls with little history thread, further incoherence and numerous threats was the cost of negotiating more manageable and responsable monthly payments.

 

Incoherent information and procedures by Halifax resulting in yet more ‘arrears’ and bad credit rating. One Halifax caller telling me the info / facts and current status of my account given to me by the previous Halifax caller – sometimes that same day – was invalid. This is the stuff of crazy people.

 

Credit card statement hi-lighting further incoherence about my credit limit on a defunct account.

How can one have a credit limit suddenly shoot from £500 to £7,000, and have a bad credit rating, and be in ‘arrears’?

 

Addition to attached letter to Halifax of 8 March 2006.

 

Around August 2004 Halifax’s ‘system’ started cancelling my direct debit automatically. This happened more than once and resulted in yet another wave of late or no payment charges, ‘arrears’, threats of ‘adverse credit rating’, ‘default notices’, harassing daily phone calls. Had I not again, spent days sorting out what had gone wrong, with exhausting and often fruitless calls to Halifax, it would also have spiralled out of control. In effect I was trying to protect myself from Halifax’s litany of mistakes.

 

Brief history

 

I’m an artist. I currently have no income. I’m not employable because I have no formal education (I was taken out of school age 12) and except for a stint as a fire fighter, I’ve only ever been an artist. I suffer from PTSS and depression. I receive counselling.

 

In early 2000 I was doing fairly OK until my mental state caused a dip in earnings. I had been a long-time customer of Halifax and around 2002 I used my credit card for a period when I had no choice but to live off credit for a while. My situation was not getting better so I asked Halifax to negotiate a more manageable monthly payments.

It took dozens of phone calls, each time to a different person, to get any cooperation.

I did manage to get reduced payments but it came with a price: I was penalised with baffling late / ‘arrears’ charges and adverse credit rating partly because I had not honoured the ‘terms of the agreement’! So I was being severely penalised for taking a responsible decision, even for the ‘late payment’ between the transfer to a lower payment period.

This and the other problems with Halifax started to wear me down. I felt cornered and was becoming despondent, shaking each time I saw their number on my phone with their daily calls and letters of Bad Credit / Default Notices / Warrant of Execution issued with Court Bailiffs / County Court Summons / Judgement on a National Register / Bankruptcy Order. For someone with PTSS these words put terror into me.

And many of these threatening letters / calls were as a result of severe incompetence by Halifax.

The clear message was; you are struggling, you are having problems making payments, you want our help but we have no reasonable and fair allowances for your type of customer who does not have a ‘regular’ income. So we’re going to penalise you, frighten you, intimidate you as much as possible so we get our money. And we’re going to throw in a few surprises to really mess you up.

 

My case

 

With an ordinary company, If a client started to have anxiety, panic attacks, severe depression, feelings of shame (the feeling of inadequacy, guilt, irresponsibility that these endless phone calls / letters of threat reinforce, is very real) and jumping with nerves each time the phone rang, receiving intimidating, threatening, bullying letters and harassing phone calls - in psychotherapy this is known among other things as ‘crazy making behaviour’ and it can push people to the brink – there would be a law suit.

It was I who had to sort out most of the chaos for them, or it would have escalated. Can you imagine what would have happened if I had not done all that legwork outlined in the attached letter? And if I had not noticed that money was indeed going out of my Abbey account? What next, bailiffs?

Lets be clear here; you often can not get through to these people and the system they uphold. They’re protected by a wall of procedures, regulation, and management guidelines. Their callers are often robotic with their questions / answers – and you have to explain again and again because they often do not have history updates on their screen, or it conflicts with the last caller’s notes. This went on for months.

 

This is not an isolated case of banking abuse. Abbey recently clocked up an astonishing erroneous £195 of ‘charges’. Times how many people who didn’t catch it on their statement, and went unnoticed by the bank..

If I had not sorted out most of what went wrong with Halifax, the accumulated cost of all these various threats and ‘penalties’ would have spiralled, because I never once got a letter saying oops we’ve made a mistake, sorry, only a couple of letters to acknowledge my work as their troubleshooter.

I would say to Halifax: you do not call again when someone says stop calling. There’s a reason; its because you’re driving them slowly go mad – because with each caller I have to go over the whole thing repeatedly. You need to sort out the mess and your mistakes before you start your daily calls - six in one day - pushing the customer towards breaking point. You do not penalise, bully and threaten someone who is struggling to make a living, and is trying to be responsable by asking to make a lower monthly payment, and you certainly do not give them this same treatment when you, Halifax, has forced my account into ‘default’ as a result of your own inadequacy!

 

You are dealing with a person. This is about people. Not robots like the ones who make the unrelenting phone calls. This is not banking. This is abusive behaviour and in any other circumstances it would go to a lawyer. Yes, now I’m feeling the anger, months and months of it.

 

I am also making a stand because I want to make it clear that banks are not exempt from the penalty (there isn’t one for banks? well it’s time there is) for appalling treatment of customers. This is not about the debt owed, this is not about money, this is about abusive behaviour and when it does this to people outside banks, there are laws to punish it.

And I stand also for those many, some feeling powerless and defenceless, who’ve also been a victim of this growing culture of bullying, intimidation, aggression and threats that now seems to have seeped into the fabric of banking. PT March 2009

 

This is not about not wanting to pay a debt; I was making payments for a long time, until the stress affected my earning ability. The debt is a separate issue. The tables are turned and when Halifax coughs up damages, I'll consider the debt.

 

Any feedback is welcome, like; do I have a chance to make a case?

Thanks.

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