This article was used to help people make affordability complaints to BrightHouse.
Now (March 2020) BrightHouse is about to go into administration, this article is no longer relevant. You can still complain, but the process is much simpler and you can no longer go to the Financial Ombudsman.
See BrightHouse administration – how does this affect customers? which says what you should do now, with a simpler template letter of complaint to use.
Have you bought items from Brighthouse where the repayments were too much for you to be able to manage?
This article looks at how you can complain about “pay weekly” credit affordability and ask for a refund of the interest you paid. It looks at:
- what is an “affordability complaint”?
- how big a refund could you get?
- a template letter to use if you have paid for the item
- what to do if you are still paying.
What is an “affordability complaint”?
BrightHouse is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The rules about responsible lending and affordability can be summarised as:
the borrower should be able to make the repayments without undue difficulty, whilst continuing to meet other debt repayment obligations and reasonable regular outgoings.
If you were struggling to pay BrightHouse and BrightHouse should have realised this before they sold you the item, you have an “affordability complaint”.
Things which show you were struggling:
- having to borrow more money every month, perhaps from payday loans or catalogues/credit cards, or
- getting behind with essential bills such as rent, council tax, utilities, or
- defaulting on other debts.
It is easier to prove that BrightHouse should have known you would struggle if:
- you had already missed payments on previous items you bought from BrightHouse, or
- the amount you were paying BrightHouse on all your purchases was a large amount of your income.
Some people were sent refunds in 2018
BrightHouse announced in October 2017 that they were refunding nearly £15 million to customers who had been sold goods they couldn’t afford.
That sounded great and there were lots of happy newspaper headlines… but most of these refunds were small and many people didn’t get one at all.
BrightHouse’s smaller rival, PerfectHome, announced a refund for 37,000 customers in March 2018.
If you didn’t get one or you don’t think it was large enough, read the rest of this article because you can still complain! Everything in this article applies to BrightHouse and PerfectHome, but I just talk about BrightHouse as they are so much bigger.
How big a BrightHouse refund could you get?
The typical compensation if you win an affordability complaint is:
- a refund of the interest you paid,
- with an extra 8% interest per year added on top of that refund, and
- any problems on your credit record (late payments, defaults) deleted.
If you are still paying for an item that is unaffordable, the BrightHouse interest that was added on is removed so you only pay for the item itself, not the extra interest.
How far back can you go?
The Financial Ombudsman (FOS) usually only looks at complaints about things which have happened in the past 6 years.
But in 2019 it decided it can look at complaints if you bought something from BrightHouse more than 6 years ago. See some of the comments below this page for readers saying they have won their FOS cases for loans over 6 years.
Who shouldn’t do this
Don’t ask for a BrightHouse refund if you are in a DRO – it could be ended if you get a large refund. If you are in an IVA or you have ever been bankrupt, it’s pointless as the refund won’t come to you.
A template letter to use
Here is a template letter asking for a refund on two items which you have finished paying for.
Change this letter so it talks about what you bought, when, and the problems you had. Delete bits that don’t apply to you. You can change this letter a lot – it’s just to get you started!
Also include your name, current address, current email address, and give your old details if any of these have changed since you bought the items.
The best way to send your complaint is by email:
That is free, instant, can’t get lost in the post and you have a copy of what you sent. Put AFFORDABILITY COMPLAINT as the subject of your email.
What to do if you are still paying
Things are more complicated if you are still paying. If you can’t afford the payments go to your local Citizens Advice and ask for some help.
If you have returned an item
You can also complain about the interest if you returned an item because it was unaffordable – use the template letter above. If you returned it quite early, you may not get much if anything back, but the longer you were paying, the better chance you have.
How to take your complaint to the Ombudsman if BrightHouse say No (no longer possible)
If BrightHouse says No, or offers you what seems like a tiny amount to go away, you can send your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman. If you aren’t sure about doing this, why not ask in the comments below?
This is easy and free. The Ombudsman isn’t a court, you don’t have to use legal language or make a complicated argument, and it’s all done by email. The Ombudsman just wants to know from you what you think happened and why it wasn’t fair on you.
The Financial Ombudsman has a “complain online” option which asks you for the details they need, such as your contact details. This lets you attach a copy of what you sent BrightHouse and what they replied to you.