Bright ideas for complaining about Brighthouse (& avoiding them in the first place!)

How to complain about “pay weekly” chains

BrightHouse is a “pay weekly” chain of shops which is loathed by almost all debt advisers.

This is a guest post by Sara Williams, an adviser at Citizens Advice

Why do debt advisors hate BrightHouse?

Their interest rates are high, but that isn’t the only reason. BrightHouse goods are often much more expensive than a similar TV or washing machine would be from another retailer. In addition they make most people add on expensive insurance.

The result is that you could spend more than £750 paid over three years on a Hoover washing machine, when you could get a very similar model from AO.com at £230.

So far so bad… but these rip off prices are made worse by the fact that BrightHouse has often failed to check properly that its customers can afford the items they are buying. The quoted weekly amounts may sound manageable but most BrightHouse customers are on low income or just benefits.

And BrightHouse goods are sold on Hire Purchase agreements. So customers in the last year of their contract who have financial problems will often be desperate to make the last few BrightHouse payments, rather than lose the item they have already paid so much for. They may get behind with rent, council tax and utility bills or take out expensive credit such as payday loans as a result.electrical items can you get a refund - more than likely

BrightHouse refunds

In October the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), BrightHouse’s regulator, told them to refund a bit under £15 million to two groups of customers:

  1. People who had cancelled a purchase within the 14 day cooling off period but still made 1 payment. These refunds will be small as it’s only 1 week’s payment to be refunded.
  2. 81,000 people who bought something between 1 April 2014 and 30 September 2016 where BrightHouse think they should have done more affordability checks – average refund £125.

If you want to know if you will be getting a refund, call their free helpline: 0800 30 40 80. £15 million sounds good, but in practice not many people are getting them considering the amount of stress and misery BrightHouse has caused.

The FCA took over as BrightHouse’s regulator in 2014, but before then the regulator was the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the OFT had the same rules about checking affordability as the FCA has. So I think people with older purchases should also get refunds. And if you had a purchase after 2014 which they aren’t refunding, you can make a complaint that it was unaffordable.

See How to make an affordability complaint to BrightHouse for a template letter and more information about complaining to Brighthouse.

If your purchase was “unaffordable” then you should get a refund of all the interest you paid, plus 8% simple interest and have any negative marks on your credit record deleted.

Other BrightHouse complaints

BrightHouse also have a poor reputation for customer service when something goes wrong – an item doesn’t match its description, or it is faulty.

If you have one of these “consumer complaints”, you have the same legal rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 as if you bought the goods from a normal shop. See the article on this website that looks at these rights and how to complain – it’s got some useful videos.

Alternatives to BrightHouse

Many people with little money go to BrightHouse because they are desperate. But here are some better alternatives, so check if one might work for you:

  1. Local Welfare Assistance Scheme (used to be called Crisis Loans). These are harder to get now than they used to be, but it’s worth asking your council if they help families to replace things like white goods and essential furniture.
  2. Budgeting loans If you have been on JSA, ESA, Income Support or Universal Credit for more than 6 months, you may be able to get an interest-free budgeting loan.
  3. Credit Union You may be able to join a local one or one linked with your job, eg NHS staff.
  4. Fair For You – this is an online alternative to BrightHouse, offering weekly payments but without the markup on the original prices and their interest rates are lower. Check them out!

About the author Sara Williams

Sara Williams Debt camel guest post on The Complaining Cow

Sar is a CAB advisor who has her owwebsite Debt Camel where she blogs about everything to do with debt and credit ratings. She also guest posted Everything you need to know about Payday loans The only person so far who has written two guest posts on my blog ‘cos she’s sooo good at her stuff!

Quick guide for all you need to know about PPI claims

Deadline for claiming for mis-selling of PPI

Today, 29/08/17 despite pressure from consumer groups, the Financial Conduct Authority confirmed that it will introduce a deadline for making new payment protection insurance (PPI) complaints. It is quite ridiculous that this deadline should be introduced, the only benefit is for the financial institutions! Although the FCA has told them to contact customers regarding PPI, many have failed to do so and the onus is on the consumer to contact the company.

29th August 2019 is the deadline for PPI claims

Millions of us are contacted on a daily basis from Claims Management Companies trying to get their hands on a large percentage of what we may or may not be owed. But despite this, it is estimated that there are billions more to be claimed. In fact the FCA says that over half have yet to claim but has imposed this deadline. Claims have been made since 2011, that’s 6 years and yet they expect more than 6 years of claims to be made in two years? Plus the additional claims which have already been dealt with due to the Plevin case. That issue of 2 versus 6 years alone begs many questions! See the FCA figures for amounts claimed in each of the last 6 years.

What exactly is PPI?

Payment Protection Insurance. When you took out a loan or a mortgage or similar you may have been sold it alongside the agreement. It would, in theory pay out if you were unable to make the payments.

What makes a mis-sold PPI?

1) If you were told that you had to have it (you didn’t) to take out the loan
2) It has been added without your knowledge
3) Sold the wrong cover, e.g. something to which you didn’t agree, single policy instead of joint, you already had cover with another product/through work etc
4) If you were self, employed, retired or unemployed and were sold unemployment cover which would have been useless to you
5) You had pre existing medical conditions and the cover made you exempt
6) If your provider has already been fined for not acting fairly it is likely that you will have a case.

Supreme Court judgment in Plevin v Paragon Personal Finance Ltd (Plevin)

The Plevin decision means that consumers may have new grounds to complain about PPI regarding the amount of money that the providers received for the sale if the commission was undisclosed and made the relationship unfair.

Failure to disclose commission gave rise to an unfair relationship. Over 50% and firms should calculate redress as the excess commission over this 50%.

The FCA requires all firms to write to previously rejected complainants who are eligible to complain in light of Plevin in order to explain the new basis for complaining to them. Consumers with live PPI policies will now be able to complain after the deadline if they have a future claim on their policy rejected for reasons related to the sale. The complaint must be related to the reason the claim was rejected, for example, eligibility, exclusions or limitations.

Finding out if you had PPI

Look at all your loan agreements. See if there is any mention of PPI. Insurance, benefits, protection plan, etc. If so, look through and see if you think you were mis sold.  Although there are calls to make finance companies inform all customers of their PPI agreements, they aren’t doing so. If you can’t find the paperwork and don’t know if you had PPI, don’t despair! Write to the company and ask for a copy of your agreement. Ask for the terms and conditions which were relevant at the time as these may have changed and it’s what they were at the time of agreement that matters. You may have to pay £1 for existing accounts and £10 for closed accounts.

You can also check your credit history which will tell you of any accounts which were live in the last 6 years.

How to claim for mis-sold PPI

Don’t use a Claims Management Company there really isn’t a need and they can’t do anything more than you but will take a hefty chunk of what you are owed. Write to the finance company giving the account details, and any other information such as when it was taken out, different address etc.

Explain how you believe you have been mis sold with as much evidence as possible to strengthen your case.

Use the Which? free and quick to use template and they even send it off for you.

Should you not be satisfied with the decision you can take the matter to the Financial Ombudsman which is currently overturning 54% of cases in favour of the consumer.

More on the FCA website regarding claiming for PPI refunds

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

For help in most complaint scenarios see How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS! for guidance, tips, advice, laws and template letters for all you need to know in getting redress!