To ask for a refund from a payday lender, it helps if you have a list of your loans. If you don’t, the first step is to ask the lender to send you a Statement of Account – see How to complain about unaffordable payday loans for template letters for the whole reclaim process.
Most lenders are sending these, but some are refusing unless you pay £10 for a Subject Access Request.
What the lenders are saying
“Loan account history. To process this request, we [Wage Day Advance] require a £10 fee from you which is the prescribed charge in the current Data Protection legislation. ”
“Uncle Buck asked me for £10. I told them I only wanted a list of loans but they still say I have to pay £10 for a SAR.”
“With regard to your request this account currently has no sums due or payable. Therefore, we [Payday Express] have no current obligation to send documents under Section 77 of the Consumer Credit Act as per Subsection (3) of Section 77 which states that the “requirement under Subsection (1) does not apply to – (a) an agreement under which no sum is, or will or may become payable by the debtor….”
Payday UK and Payday Express are now asking people for £1 to send out a list as a priority – this must be a delaying tactic as it will cost the firm more than £1 to handle these incoming cheques and postal orders!
“Money Shop – they’re being obstructive. I’ve been with them since 2007 and they’ve took 5 weeks to send me one sheet with transactions on from 2013. I’ve just phoned them and said this isn’t what I wanted and they’ve said tough – it’s company policy not to provide statements.”
UPDATE November 2016 A reader has been told in a Money Shop branch that their new system, introduced at the end of 2014, wipes all details when a loan is paid. But if you want a print out of your loans from the old system, before end 2014, ask for a Customer Transaction History report (all records). It worked for her!
“I have recently sent in a complaint to Cheque Centre. I requested a summary of my account via email and received an email back stating that it was a subject access request and would therefore need to pay the £10″
“We [Lending Stream] see that you are requesting for account information only and have clearly stated that it not a SAR (Subject Access Request), however, we would like to inform you that such nature of query falls under the purview of SAR.”
Are they being difficult or do they have system problems?
It has been suggested to me that the lenders aren’t actually choosing to be difficult here, this is just the way their systems are set up, and they are getting so many complaints that they are struggling.
Well sorry, but that doesn’t excuse trying to charge customers for this information. If the only way a lender can print off a list of loans for a closed account is by putting it in as a Subject Access Request, that seems like a poor way to design a system but I don’t really care, providing that the customers are sent the full details and they aren’t charged for it.
£10 is NOT the prescribed charge for sending out this information – it is the maximum that any firm is allowed to charge for a SAR. It is perfectly legal for a firm to make no charge for a SAR. Firms are supposed to ensure that people can make complaints free of charge (see below for the FCAs rules about this) so they should not be charging for a list of payday loans in my opinion.
Your three options
If you receive one of these unhelpful responses, here are three things you could do:
1) put your complaint in without the loan details
It sounds useful to be able to say in your complaint that you took x loans between [date and date] and rolled one of them four times … But you don’t have to – the lender already knows this information. You can just say “I wish to complain about all the loans you gave me between 2012 and 2014 (or whenever).”
If they make you an offer, at that point you can say you can’t consider it until they supply you with a complete list of loans including the interest and the charges you paid on each. And if they refuse, take your case to the Ombudsman – they won’t refuse to give this information to the Ombudsman.
It’s important you do have a list of the loans and the interest you have paid. Unless you have this figure you might think an offer to write off a balance of £400 sounds good, but really you have paid more than two thousand pounds in interest and charges. Many people have been horrified at how large the interest total was.
You can also reconstruct a list of loans using your own bank statements if you have them. This has the big advantage that it lets you spot if the list you eventually get from the lender is missing some loans – it does happen!
To me this seem the simplest and quickest option.
2) pay for a Subject Access Request
If you pay £10 for a Subject Access Request you should get all the information. However the firm is allowed to take 40 days to send this (see the Information Commissioner page on SARs ). So this isn’t just expensive, it will also delay things if you wait 40 days to put in your complaint and then the firm has eight weeks to think about it.
Update – September 2016 One lender – the Money Shop – has also made the odd decision that they won’t send a list of loans even if you pay for a SAR. This doesn’t sound right to me, and indeed the ICO has told them they should send the details.
3) tell the payday lender why they should send you the Statement
You could reply saying something like:
“I would like you to provide a Statement of my Account. The FCA Rules provide that a firm’s procedures must ensure that a complaint may be made free of charge. I require complete details of the loans you gave me and the amounts that I repaid in order to be able to clearly explain my complaint.
In addition, the FCA’s Principles set out that (6) a firm must pay due regard to the interests of its customers and treat them fairly and (7) a firm must pay due regard to the information needs of its clients, and communicate information to them in a way which is clear, fair and not misleading. I consider that you are being obstructive, delaying and not treating me fairly by not supplying me with a Statement of Account.
If you do not supply me with this information, I shall be taking my complaint about payday loan affordability to the Financial Ombudsman and I shall also be writing to the FCA pointing out the difficulties you are putting in the way to prevent me being able to make an effective complaint.”
And report the firm to the regulator!
Whichever one of these options you choose, you could tell their regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, that you think the firm is making it difficult for you to put in an effective complaint. You could also do this if you have already paid for a £10 SAR. The easiest way to report your concern about a firm is to email the FCA on firstname.lastname@example.org.
You could say something like:
“I wish to report [payday lender] because I think you should look at how they are handling customer complaints. I understand you can’t investigate my specific complaint – I shall be going to the Financial Ombudsman if it is rejected by the firm
I am currently complaining to them about payday loan affordability. On dd/mm/yy I asked them to supply me with a Statement of my Account so I could put in a clear complaint about specific loans. They replied saying [copy the response you got].
I think this is being deliberately obstructive. By making it more expensive, harder and longer to to complain, they are probably hoping some people will just give up. I don’t think this is a fair way to treat people who wish to complain.”
This isn’t a report that you will benefit from at all – you won’t even be told what the FCA has done about looking into the matter. But if the regulator receives a lot of reports about a firm, they will look into it and may make the firm behave better in future.
One reader has reported The Money Shop for refusing to send a statement of account and got back the following reply:
“Although we can’t look into individual complaints the information you’ve sent me is useful and will help us to build a picture of how the Money Shop operate in the industry and deal with their customers. I have passed the information you have provided to my colleagues that supervise the firm. My colleagues will consider whether the firm have breached our rules and guidance.”
So the more people that do this, the better picture the regulator will have of these payday lenders poor complaints handling.
What if they haven’t refused but have just ignored my request?
You could remind them by email. Or try logging into your online account with them – that may show the loans. Or try to phone them. Or use web chat, Facebook or Twitter! Sometimes just switching from email to another communication method seems to do the trick. But if none of those work, then your best option is probably (1) above – put in a vague complaint.