Did your payday loans cost so much when you repaid one you had to keep on borrowing?
You can get a refund of the interest you paid on unaffordable loans.
It’s easy to ask for a payday loan refund using the free template letters here. The letters work if your payday loans were repaid or if you still owe money.
This article covers everything you need to get started. It’s simple, easy, free and many people are winning large payouts.
The comments below this article have thousands of stories of the refunds people have got using these letters. It is a great place to ask questions!
What are “unaffordable” loans?
Was a loan affordable because you managed to repay it? No! If paying a loan left you so broke you had to borrow again – from the same lender or a different one – it was unaffordable!
The regulator says:
“the borrower should be able to make the required repayments without undue difficulty, whilst continuing to meet other debt repayment obligations and reasonable regular outgoings.”
That means a payday loan is only affordable if you repaid it on time and you could still manage to pay your other bills and debts.
Payday loans are meant to be used to solve a short term problem. If you kept rolling a loan or repaying one then getting another loan soon after, the lender should have stopped lending to you.
If the loan was small and it was the first loan or second loan from a lender, the lender may not have realised the loan was unaffordable for you. But it was irresponsible lending to just carry on giving you more loans.
Many lenders ignored even very obvious signs of problems such as your loans increasing in size or borrowing very soon after repayment.
How much compensation can you get?
You don’t have to calculate what a fair refund is or which loans were unaffordable.
Just ask for a full refund from the lender and see what you are offered. This is simple and it works well.
The Financial Ombudsman has seen tens of thousands of payday loan affordability complaints. A typical decision by the Ombudsman is that the payday lender should refund all the interest you paid interest after the third, fourth or fifth loan.
This is because payday loans are meant for short term problems and the lender should not have carried on giving you loans. This may be earlier – from the first or second loan sometimes – if your first loans were rolled or topped-up or were very large.
Which lenders can you get refunds from?
Use the letters on this page to make an affordability complaint to most UK payday lenders, see the email list for payday lenders. The larger lenders include:
Sunny, Lending Stream, MyJar, Satsuma, Mr Lender, Ferratum, CashASAP, Moneyboat, Smart Pig.
Also use these letters for the very high-cost sorts of “flexible credit”, including:
SafetyNet Credit, Drafty, Polar Credit.
But the process described here – complain to the lender and then send to the Financial Ombudsman if the lender says No or gives you a poor offer – won’t work if the lender has gone bust:
- 247 Moneybox, Peachy, Piggybank, Swift Sterling, Uncle Buck are in administration. Send a complaint to the administrators, see the lenders’ websites. You may not get much back but this is very easy to do, just send a short email saying you were given unaffordable loans;
- QuickQuid – read What will happen in QuickQuid’s administration for how you can put in a complaint.
- the Money Shop, Payday UK, Payday Express – all part of the same group – read Money Shop – Latest news for how to put in a complaint about them.
- Wonga, Wageday Advance and lenders who gave up years ago – it is now too late to make a complaint about these lenders, see this list.
For longer-term loans there are better template letters to use here:
- Amigo and other guarantor lenders,
- 118 Money, Everyday Loans and other high-cost large long-term loans.
First, before you send in a complaint
Doing these four things now will make your life easier later.
Get a copy of your TransUnion statutory credit report and keep it. After complaints are started, sometimes loans are deleted and you may want the full report if you later have to go to the Ombudsman. Don’t get an Experian or ClearScore report instead – many payday lenders don’t use those.
If you can log-in to the lender’s website and see your loans, take a copy of them as sometimes they vanish when you complain.
If you still owe money to the lender:
- unless you can afford to make this month’s payment without borrowing again, cancel the CPA to the lender at your bank. Otherwise the lender may take the money and you will be in a mess.
- read the Stop making payments? section in Payday loan refunds when last loan not repaid. If you want to offer a lower affordable amount, add a sentence to your complaint letter saying this.
- if you have a lot of borrowing at the moment, read Escape from the payday loan trap which looks at how a debt management plan can help you.
If your loan was sold to a debt collector you still complain to the original lender but also tell the debt collector that you are disputing the debt. Don’t skip this bit or a debt collector may go to court. It is a good idea to carry on making payments to the debt collector if they are affordable.
Step One – start your complaint & get loan details if you don’t know them
Find the lender’s email address for complaints from this list.
Then send your complaint email. Put “AFFORDABILITY COMPLAINT” as the subject:
This email starts off your affordability complaint.
The lender has to reply to your complaint within 8 weeks from when you send the email, not when they acknowledge it. That 8 week clock has started ticking… don’t be surprised if you have to wait until the end of the 8 weeks to get response. In April 2020 some lenders started asking for more time because of Coronavirus – here are my thoughts on that: Should you allow a lender extra time?
Step Two (OPTIONAL) – send more details
When you get your loan information, you can send in more details about your complaint if you want. You don’t have to do this, your complaint is already underway.
I don’t know if many lenders actually read what you send them. But it’s easy to do – you don’t need to calculate what refund you should get or quote laws.
Change this template so it tells your story.
Good ways to improve this
Add any points that help you describe what happened to you. And delete any bits that don’t matter to you. Some examples:
- “I took out another loan with xxxx to pay you.”
- “Sometimes I borrowed to pay the rent and then had to top-up to get money for food.”
- If you weren’t treated fairly while you were borrowing add a bit about this.
Don’t worry that the lender will say you should have cut back on your living costs, just put down your normal expenses. You don’t need to include evidence about your expenses.
Should you send credit record and bank statements?
Some lenders ask you to send them a copy of your credit record, your payslips or bank statements. This is mostly to be difficult – the lender can check your credit record themselves if they want.
Don’t send payslips – they won’t help an affordability complaint and the ombudsman never asks for them.
You can send bank statements if you want, but think twice about the cost of copying and postage if there are a lot. Depressingly most lenders seem to ignore them if you do send them.
Some people feel these are personal and they don’t want to send them to a payday lender. If you don’t want to send them, tell the lender you will send the Ombudsman any information that is needed.
Step three – go to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)
If the lender rejects your complaint or offers you a small amount, don’t be depressed. You may still have a very good case, they are just hoping you will give up!
Instead you can send your case to the Financial Ombudsman. This is easy and free.
Tens of thousands of these cases have been sent to the Financial Ombudsman where there is a higher success rate for these affordability complaints than any other type of complaint!
Give up, negotiate with the lender, or go to the Ombudsman?
Some lenders try to make your case sound bad when it isn’t. People have had thousands of pounds refunded after a complete rejection! Just ignore any of these comments, they do not mean you have a weak case:
- they relied on your loan applications and you didn’t give the full facts – see Lender says I lied for more about this;
- you repaid some loans early – this doesn’t prove the loans were affordable, just that you were trying to save interest;
- your borrowing didn’t go up every time – irrelevant, what matters is that you kept borrowing;
- you had a good enough credit score or they didn’t legally have to check your credit record.
- your loans are over 6 years old – the ombudsman will look at these even if the lender says they won’t!
Will a lender improve an offer?
You may be wondering if you should go back and try to get the lender to give you a better offer. Most lenders won’t do this, but a few may if you make out a good case. For example if they have offered to refund loans 6-12 you would be happy if they included one or two more, you can say why you think loans 4 and 5 should also be refunded. See When and how to negotiate about payday loan refunds for more details.
A good enough case to go to the Ombudsman?
If you don’t know what to do, ask in the comments below this article. Accepting an offer settles your whole complaint – you can’t change your mind later.
Don’t worry that you will lose a small offer from a lender by going to the Ombudsman – this doesn’t happen.
Some points to think about:
- if you are offered a refund on only a few loans, don’t accept if you think you paid a lot more than that in interest. Some lenders offer a few hundred pounds to cases which eventually get ten or twenty times as much from the Ombudsman.
- an offer to write off your current balance may sound good … but it may be very poor if you should get a refund as well, see Refunds when you have a balance owing for details and ask in the comments below if you aren’t sure.
- if getting defaults or late payments removed from your credit record is important to you, are you happy with what the lender is proposing to do? Don’t assume your credit record will be cleared if the lender didn’t mention this.
One or two loan cases are hard to win at the ombudsman. It’s probably best to give up on one or two loan cases unless:
- the loan was rolled or topped up several times; or
- the loan was large. Here is a single MyJar loan case that was won even though it was an instalment loan and the borrower had a good income because it was for £3,600. And a single loan Sunny case for a loan of £1,000. You can win cases for smaller amounts if the repayment would have been a large amount of your income; or
- you still owe money.
Don’t delay too long – there is a 6-month time limit after a lender rejects your complaint to send the case to the ombudsman.
How to send a complaint to FOS
Put in a separate complaint about each lender. So you don’t have to wait until all your lenders have replied before sending the first one to the Ombudsman.
One reader said: They couldn’t be any nicer. Caroline Wayman, the Chief Ombudsman, says:
It’s really OK to phone up and say, ‘I don’t think it was fair.” It’s not court; you don’t have to turn up with your ‘heads of claim’, you don’t have to write a fancy letter. Tell us your story and we will do the rest.
I like FOS’s “complain online” option which takes you through your complaint step by step.
You can just copy in what you said in your complaint to the lender. Add more details, for example, if you disagree with what the lender replied to you. Include a paragraph about having only just found out you could complain if some of the loans are more than 6 years old.
Things to attach:
- the reply you have had from the lender.
- bank statements if you have them. Ideally you want statements from 3 months before your first loan until the last loan was repaid or you defaulted on it. This strengthens your case, showing how unaffordable the loans were. You can still get bank statements even if your account is closed – if you don’t have them, start the process of getting them now, don’t wait until FOS asks for them.
- a copy of your Credit Karma credit report.
What happens after you have sent a case to FOS
You will normally be contacted within a couple of weeks and asked for a copy of your credit record and your bank statements if you haven’t sent these. If you have sent these on one complaint, then when you complain about a different lender they will use the ones they already have.
After this initial contact, your case will wait for the lender to send FOS your case file and then wait to be picked up by an adjudicator who will make a decision on it. That won’t happen until the payday lender has replied – typically it is between 2-5 months at the moment.
If you are still making payments to the lender, tell the lender you want to reduce these to an affordable amount. This will make waiting for an Ombudsman decision much less stressful for you.
The Financial Ombudsman has a two-stage process. Most cases are settled by the first “adjudicator” stage but about 10% go to the second “Ombudsman” stage, see What happens at the Financial Ombudsman for details.
A few problem cases
Don’t ask for a refund:
- if you are bankrupt now or have been bankrupt in the past – any refund would go to the Official Receiver.
- if you are in an IVA, as refunds will go to your IVA firm not to you. If your IVA has finished the refund may still be sent to your old IVA firm.
- if you are in a DRO now, getting a refund may mean your DRO is cancelled!
Need some help?
If you need help to complain, go to your local Citizens Advice, they will help for free.
Don’t use a claims management company. They are expensive and often incompetent. It’s easy to do this yourself and you can ask questions below and get replies from other readers who have done this.