UPDATE: in March 2021, Provident said it is asking for a “Scheme of Arrangement” that will mean it pays very little to complaints that are upheld. This is bad news for people with complaints. See Provident’s Scheme for details and the latest news.
Doorstep lending – also called home credit – is where a collector comes to your house to collect the repayments. Many people have been borrowing from the same lender for years.
If you had doorstep loans from lenders such as Morses Club, Mutual and Loans At Home, you may be able to get a refund of the interest you paid if the lender should have realised the loan was unaffordable for you.
What is an “unaffordable” loan?
The regulator says that a loan is unaffordable if you couldn’t make the repayments without borrowing again. This could be borrowing from the same lender, from someone else, getting deeper into your overdraft or by not paying a bill.
So even if you always paid your loans on time, they could still have been unaffordable. Especially if you had several loans at the same time or often had to refinance/top-up a loan.
Often the first few loans may have been just about affordable, but the lender should have realised their loans were making your life more difficult when you kept getting more loans.
If you were struggling, your agent should have suggested that you could repay the current one a lot more slowly with no extra interest being added. But too often people were just offered another larger loan.
That was irresponsible lending and you should get a refund back of the interest you paid.
You are very unlikely to get a refund for only one loan. But if you borrowed several times and if you took out a new loan when you were having problems paying an existing one, then complain.
How to ask for a refund from home credit lenders
For the last few years, lots of people have been getting large refunds from payday loans, see How to ask for a payday loan refund. The good news is the process is exactly the same for doorstep loans – the regulator’s definition of affordability is the same for all sorts of lending.
And now people are having success with complaints about doorstep loans – see the comments at the bottom of this article!
The template letter here for doorstep loans is similar to the one for payday loans, but it has some extra points that matter for doorstep loans.
Template letter to use
Also include your customer reference number if you had one. And explain if you have moved address or changed your email so they can locate your account.
Contact details for doorstep lenders
- Provident & Greenwoods The template letter on this page is no longer relevant – see Provident proposes a Scheme to cap refunds for what is happening for Provident loans,
- Morses Club & Shopacheck You have to use their form, see contact Morses– put COMPLAINT at the top of your message.
- Loans at home email with COMPLAINT in the title to email@example.com.
- Mutual email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- CLC Finance email email@example.com
- Compton Finance email firstname.lastname@example.org with Affordability Complaint as the title
- GR Finance email email@example.com with Affordability Complaint as the title
- Naylors Finance email with COMPLAINT in the title to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Pinewood Finance C0 email email@example.com with Affordability Complaint as the title
- Short Term Finance (Birmingham) Use their online form and copy your complaints letter into there: complaints to Short-Term Finance.
- Skyline Direct firstname.lastname@example.org
- Swift email@example.com
Keep a copy of online complaints or letter sent – if you email it to yourself it’s easy to pass on to the Ombudsman if needed.
You should get a response in 8 weeks
You may get a list of your loans on its own. This is NOT the response to your complaint, which will arrive later. You don’t need to do anything with the list of loans, just keep it. If the lender makes you an offer, it will help you to see how good or bad it is.
The lender should reply to your complaint within 8 weeks from when you send the email, not when they acknowledge it.
Lenders may be very slow about replying to complaints and they often don’t make a good offer. They may ask for two more weeks several times… I suggest you send the case to the Ombudsman straight away after 8 weeks.
How strong is your complaint?
Very large numbers of these complaints are being won at the Ombudsman – in the last quarter of 2020, 84% of doorstep lending complaints were won by the borrower.
In all of those Ombudsman cases, the lender had either rejected the complaint or made a poor offer.
So don’t be put off if this happens to you, send it to the Ombudsman!.
Three useful guidelines are:
- The more loans you had, the better your case. Borrowing for long periods by taking out new loans or refinancing existing ones shows you were dependent on the loans.
- It can be hard to win a complaint for just a couple of small loans.
- It’s normal to not get the first few loans refunded. If a lender has offered you a refund on loans 5-12 that is probably a good offer. But if they have offered a refund on just loans 10-12 it probably isn’t.
- The larger the loans became, the better your complaint is.
- The Ombudsman will usually look at loans that are over 6 years old, but many lenders just refuse. You can go back to 2007.
Sending a complaint to the Ombudsman
The easiest way to send a complaint is to use their online application form because that asks all the questions they need to know the answer to (most of these are easy, such as would you like to be contacted by letter, email or phone?).
You probably won’t get a refund back of all the interest you paid… but ask for a refund on all loans and let the Ombudsman make the decision about where your loans became unaffordable.
You don’t have to calculate anything or ask for a specific amount. If you don’t yet have a list of your loans, say you have asked for one but the lender hasn’t sent it.
What should you say to FOS?
There isn’t a separate template for this. You can just copy the complaint you sent to the lender. But here are some more things you may want to add.
- Say if you had a poor credit record, especially if it got worse as you carried on borrowing from the doorstep lender.
- Say if you repaid some loans early because you refinanced your loan. Here you may have paid more in interest than if you had just been given an extra loan. If this wasn’t explained to you by your agent (and I bet it wasn’t!) then you paid more interest than you should have.
- Also tell the Ombudsman if it was always your agent suggesting you borrow more, perhaps because it was getting near to Christmas, or in August when you might need more money for new school uniforms, or because you had paid off a lot of a previous loan.
A lender in your house should only offer a loan if you had asked them in writing for it. So if this happened to you, mention it in your complaint to the Ombudsman.
Send your bank statements and credit report
Send your bank statements with your complaint. If you haven’t got them all, send ones you do have and set about asking your bank for the rest, then send those. You are more likely to win a complaint if you send them, especially if you only had a few loans.
If you have borrowed for many years and the pile of statements would be HUGE, it’s still a good idea to get them all now, but you could then wait and see what the ombudsman asks for.
Don’t worry if your bank statements show a lot of gambling. The Ombudsman just accepts you have a gambling problem, you can still win these complaints.
Also get a copy of your free TransUnion Statutory Credit report and send it to the Ombudsman with your complaint. Don’t worry that you can’t get an old credit report – the Ombudsman knows this isn’t possible.
Do you have a current loan?
You can complain when you are still repaying a loan. If you tell the lender you want a payment arrangement, they should allow you to pay less each week over a longer period without adding any more interest.
But if you have other problem debts as well, talk to StepChange and they can see if a debt management plan would help.
You can also still complain if you are in a debt management plan. But don’t bother if you are in an IVA, bankruptcy or a DRo.
Need some help?
Your local Citizens Advice can help with these complaints.
You don’t need a lawyer or a claims company. They take a LOT of your refund and you can make a better claim on your own than they can. A good claim involves telling your own story, you know what happened and a claims company doesn’t!
Comments or questions?
Hundreds of readers have posted comments below about how their complaints are going and the successes they have had. If you have a question, ask it here!