Have you bought items from Brighthouse where the repayments were too much for you to be able to manage? Or another “pay weekly” shop such as PerfectHome?
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
- how to take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman if BrightHouse say No – it’s easy!
NB this article only looks at financial problems, not consumer issues. If what you bought was poor quality or not repaired properly, send a query to the Citizens Advice national consumer service.
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 usually only looks at complaints about things which have happened in the past 6 years. If you bought something from BrightHouse more than 6 years ago, you probably won’t get a refund.
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 if you have paid for the item
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:
- BrightHouse have a new policy that you can return goods if you want, you won’t owe any more and your credit record will not be harmed. So if you have only recently bought something and it’s not essential you may want to think about returning it if you realise that it’s going to be impossible to get to the end of the payments or you just have cheaper options;
- if you are nearly at the end, then you probably want to try to make the last few payments rather than lose the item.
When you win an affordabilty complaint, interest is removed from what you are paying, this could make a big difference to whether you can repay the rest. If you have been paying a long time, it may mean you can keep the item and not pay any more.
If you aren’t sure what to do or what the different options are, go to your local Citizens Advice and ask for some help.
You can use a version of the template letter above to complain to BrightHouse – change it so it is all “in the present tense” so it says you are complaining because you can’t afford the repayments, your income is only £x a week etc.
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
If BrightHouse say No, or offer 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.