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New Bank Charging regime, unnaffordability, and BCOBS

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Hi Everyone

 

Desperately looking for advice and help.

 

My wife and I have a joint Lloyds current account held for 15+ years (I have been a customer for 50 years but that makes no odds). Due to personal circumstances of having a disability I am now in a position of not being able to work.

 

This account has an overdraft limit of £3500 but currently it is £3509.35 O/D. So not much over its actual limit. For clarity we were sensible enough to have a "parachute account" though this is with Halifax, but I believe it to be ringfenced? The Lloyds one is "inactive" and the only movement on it will be Lloyds own charges.

 

We were making ends meet reasonably well and very gradually paying this off, until Lloyds TSB changed their charging regime a year ago. This has nearly tripled our charges from the original charging regime. After the second stage implimentation where the charges went from 1p for every £14 OD to 1p for every £7 OD we have not been able to cope and it is those charges that effectively stopped us being able to get on top of this account, and indeed, pushed it into the £9.35 over the OD limit.

 

 

When we got the initial letter informing us of the changes in charging (from £14 to £7) I immediately wrote to them informing them that we did not accept their terms and conditions, and what as the way forward in these circumstances? The letter never garnered a reply, and lately, Lloyds have denied ever receiving it.

 

I then complained, after receiving standard threatening letters. I have since spoken to varying departments of differing names, each giving me slightly different stories. I was sent an IE form, but this did not appear to be their standard one, nor from the correct department.

 

All the time my simple question was asking them to outline any ways forward, the consequence of each of those ways, and the costs involved. To me these seemed very simple and sensible questions, as I wanted to know how this would affect my wife and I in terms of credit score (not that I particularly care, since we lost our house to Halifax when I first became ill).

 

I also kept asking them to explain how they were fulfilling their obligations under BCOBS with regard to our case. These requests were out rightly ignored.

 

Lloyds continually refused our direct requests for help and information. Both by letter and phonecall. They seem reluctant to put anything in writing, preferring to talk on the phone. I did start to record these conversations.

 

Eventually, after 6 long months of prevaricating, a Complaints Manager wrote to us, outlining three differing ways forward, however, one involed paying the whole lot in one go, getting a hugely expensive loan, or that they would simply default it, add it to our credit record and probably sell the debt. All these options (bar paying outright) seem to require an IE form. A blank proforma was sent by them and was wholly different to the original one I received (I hasten to add neither have been filled in as yet - as I wanted answers to the BCOBS questions - they had again ignored the question of BCOBS)

 

I was then rung up and told that this account was being moved to some team I had never heard of because it was clear from "our IE form" that we could not afford any payments. This is EXTREMELY interesting as we had never sent one in.

 

On ringing they were pretty adamant one existed and had referred to it on several calls. Not sure, but I consider this to be fraudulent misrepresentation of our IE? Of course no-one could find the "original" (it doesn't exist of course) and a further complaint made.

 

They eventually admitted that there was some sort of error and decided that someone had erred in simply recording that one had been received when it hadn't and it was simple human error. For that they sent a cheque of £100 (doesn't cut it for me frankly).

 

That they kept referring to it suggests to me one was actually there, whether that be someone else's by accident, or one had simply been made up - I suspect the latter as a couple of times it was admitted to me that figures were inputted based on a single, throwaway conversational sentence I had said to someone on an earlier phone call about us having difficulties. This IS NOT, and surely cannot, be termed an IE form?

 

I complained again saying I was unsatisfied with their response, and why they were at it please could they answer the BCOBS question.

 

It inevitably went quiet, until I had a phone call from another team asking me how I wanted to pay. Naturally I hit the roof, (but in a polite and controlled manner - no swearing etc) and bounced it straight back to the caller, who probably wished she hadn't rang. After an hour and a half talking to me (I sure will waste their time) she agreed the responses were not "ideal" and promised to take ownership of the issue, and find out why my complaint hadn't been answered. The account was put on hold for a further 30 days.

 

Of course I heard nothing, until the 30 days were up when I got another demand. A phone call in resulted in the operator again mentioning the IE form (which doesn't exist -and notably, she referred to it first, not me, so despite the admission it is all an error, the error still exists in their records). Of course I complained and was passed to a complaints manager.

 

The Complaints Manager identified that the lady I had spoken to about a month before had passed my complaint to a complaints manager called Shelley. However, she admitted Shelley had done nothing about it and promised to chase it. I asked her to get Shelley to answer the BCOBS question, explain why she hadn't bothered to answer the complaint the firsts time, and I wanted to know the history of the "ghostly" IE form, as I suspected their contention that it was simply a tick box error was not correct.

 

Amazingly I did finally get a reply from Shelley. She ignored the reason she had not replied in the first place, told me the issues surrounding the IE form had been resolved and explained (they haven't), and that when the Bank put their charging structure to the FCA it was approved and therefore met BCOBS. She suggested I take the issue up with the Ombudsman - but had to within six months of their "final response" which she contested was much earlier. She didn't mention what letter that is, nor can I find one with the words "final response" on. Further, surely her letter, by being the last, is the final response?

 

Clearly this is an unsatisfactory reply. I am unsure what to do next? This issue is causing my wife and I huge amounts of stress and time, and coming on top of losing your house to the same banking group (though the judge found they had overcharged our mortgage by nearly £10k, not followed proper procedure etc and were severely criticized by him) it is not great.

 

The simple facts of the matter are that I don't feel they have acted in anyway professionally on these complaints, or in any way tried to strike up a sensible, proactive and constructive dialogue with us. Furthermore, they have acted at best unprofessionally, at worse, perhaps committed fraud (or is that a bit strong?) by acting upon an IE form that either didn't exist, or worse, was simply made up.

 

I feel our relationship is wholly broken down and I cannot trust them one iota. It is apparent to me that they will twist, or lie, simply to cover themselves, and conversations are not recorded accurately on their written notational system.

 

For instance on their system they have recorded that I simply refuse to fill out an IE form. First of all I don't think I am under any obligation to do so, and secondly I have never refused, just asked them to outline the options for us first, and explain how they meet their obligations under BCOBS and then I would do it.

 

My other big problem is no single point of contact, various departments that make no sense to me, all seemingly overlapping, but none willing to take ownership, and all blaming each other, or not knowing what has been said.

 

My big questions are:

 

1) I am unclear of how our account not stands, they haven't said, nor have they said what department it is in, nor what will happen next.

 

2) how do I get a single, sensible, point of contact with them?

 

3) I could just pay the £9.35, that wouldn't be an issue, but then next month I guess they would hammer us with a £90 charge, so how does that work? Would we then be £90 over our OD limit? Surely this is what BCOBS aims to stop? I can see that this would just spiral uncontrollably, and it is why I have been trying to keep the account frozen.

 

4) I could just let them have a default, doesn't really affect us as far as I can tell with credit rating, as ours is poor anyway and we don't apply for credit. However I worry slightly about the debt being sold, but as I understand it if there is a dispute about the amount (there is) then there is little a Debt Recovery agency can do?

 

5) I have offered to pay £10 or £20 per month, provided there are no charges or interest added to the account. They have refused citing both that our IE form shows we cannot pay it (!!!) or that we haven't given them an IE form. They have also indicated that this sort of amount wouldn't be acceptable to them anyway.

 

6) We have suggested the charging regime is put back to 1p in every £14 - at least we were slowly managing that. However they have point blank refused; Given their history of messing this issue up and being so unprofessional, that they call it quits and simply write off the £3509.35. They have refused to even entertain either of these.

 

7) I can go to the Financial Ombudsman, but I see that it has little teeth, and the banks seem to ignore it anyway?

 

8) Do I have a claim under BCOBS? it is clear with our credit rating we can not go to another organisation for a loan, or account, so Lloyds have effectively "trapped" us into paying extortionately high charges, or otherwise accept their terms, which they are unwilling to discuss or help with.

 

9) If there is a claim there, how do I go about it?

 

10) what should I do next re with contact to the bank, given they last sent me a brush off letter?

 

 

Really sorry for the extremely long post - probably too much info?

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