Lending Stream has changed its complaints handling to make it harder for customers to make an affordability complaint and ask for a refund of the interest they have paid.
Until recently you could send them a complaint email, as you still can to the other payday lenders.
Now all emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com bounce back. Instead, you have to complete a complaint form on the Lending Stream website.
Insisting on a form – bad for customers
I always suggest people submit complaints by email rather than letters, telephone or a web form:
- you feel more in control of what you are saying than on the phone;
- many people have had bad experiences in the past with being pressurised by payday lender customer services and do not want to talk to them;
- it is better than letters as it’s free, instant and more reliable;
- you can add an attachment eg if you want to enclose a copy of your credit report;
- you have a digital copy with a date stamp you can show to the Financial Ombudsman as proof of when your complaint started.
Lending Stream seem to be using their new form as a method of “gatekeeping” to restrict complaints:
- you cannot submit the form unless you know the exact details you used when you were borrowing, eg the registered email address. But many people who got into a mess with payday loans years ago may be unsure of these;
- you have to supply a mobile number which many people do not want to do;
- it prevents people from using free resolution services such as Debt Hacker.
Once you have managed to submit a complaint form and get a reply from Lending Stream, you still cannot communicate with their complaints department by email, you can only phone. This can make it impossible for someone to provide helpful evidence. One reader said:
My bank statements show 59 loans from June 2015 – Jan 2018 totalling £8,430. They are terrible to communicate with & when they finally sent my final response to me at week 13 (not 8), they only have me being down as having 28 loans from June 2015 – June 2017. Every time I call them they fob me off. I have tried to e-mail them my bank statements but they have a new complaints procedure now so none of their previous emails I used work now. They said you have to submit a complaint form, but I cannot attach my bank statements to that to send. I have logged complaints regarding this to them & nobody calls me back.
It’s also against the FCA rules
Lending Stream’s regulator, the FCA, says in its DISP rules:
1.3.2 These procedures should:
(1) allow complaints to be made by any reasonable means
“Reasonable” here does not mean what is most convenient for the lender! The customer should be able to choose whatever method suits them. It is there to rule out silly options such as sending a carrier pigeon or writing a complaint on the side of a cow.
What can you do to object?
In practice the best thing for your complaint is going to be trying to use their form and phoning them up if you can’t remember enough details to get it accepted.
If Lending Stream deny that you have any loans from them and you have some evidence that you did borrow from them (emails, bank statements etc) then go to the Financial Ombudsman straight away and say you are unable to put in a complaint.
But if you are fed up with their obstructive approach you could also:
- leave them a 1 star review on Trust Pilot. Say their complaint handling is very unfriendly and you want to be able to complain by email.
- send a complaint to the FCA, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Say that you are trying to make an affordability complaint about Lending Stream and Gain Securities (689378) is being obstructive and won’t allow you to communicate with them by email. Add that you will send your affordability complaint to the Financial Ombudsman at 8 weeks, but you thought the FCA should aware of one of its authorised firm’s poor complaints handling as the Lending Stream website appears to be in breach of DISP 1.3.2 and also DISP 1.2.1 (4).