A whole book could be written about the different ways vulnerable customers can have problems with guarantor loans – I wrote about some of them in Guarantor loans – why guarantors & borrowers need extra protection. But here are a couple of very recent cases for illustration.
Case 1 – mental health problems
The borrower informed Amigo when he made an affordability complaint in September 2020 that he had major mental health issues, providing evidence from his doctor of a failed suicide attempt and gambling addiction. Since then, he thinks he called Customer Services more than a hundred times asking for a Final Response to his complaint, which should have been given in 8 weeks. In December he was informed that he would not get a response until at least March 2021 – presumably because of the proposed Scheme.
“I simply cannot wait this long as 16 weeks has already deteriorated my mental health state and I am in hospital awaiting treatment from a psychiatrist. Please can this be escalated or can you please get someone to look again into this and issue my final response I’ve been waiting months for. I cannot take much more of this.”
Mental health problems by themselves are not a reason why a complaint should automatically be upheld. But they should have meant that his complaint was looked at promptly and sympathetically. Any responsible lender should ensure that their debt collection and customer service departments are alert for vulnerable customers, but despite the medical evidence and the extraordinary number of phone calls, either no-one looked at his case at all or they inexcusably didn’t realise this one required different handling.
When I tweeted about this case Amigo asked to be put in contact and they then rapidly decided to clear the balance owed.
Case 2 – financial abuse
A guarantor complained that she was coerced into taking out the loan by her partner. They split up and her ex stopped paying, she says in order to put more pressure on her. There was a police investigation into stalking, assault and harassment and he has been charged. She has had to take out a restraining order against him. All this was reported to Amigo.
Going through an Income and Expenditure statement showed Amigo that she has no disposable income with which to pay the Amigo loan. At first Amigo suggested she should just delay paying other people, but they then agreed she could not afford to pay anything. They then still persisted in threatening her with defaults and a CCJ, even though there was a complaint open with Amigo and then later with FOS.
“I think despite all the abuse and the fact they should never have [accepted me as] guarantor they are basically focussing on my finances and ability to pay it… Yet for me every time I have contact from Amigo it drags me back to where I was with my ex and it’s hard, it brings on nightmares and migraines and I dip mentally.”
Amigo also asked to be put in touch after I tweeted about this. Unfortunately so far there doesn’t seem to have been a resolution. EDIT – on 14 January Amigo agreed to release her as guarantor.
How ill vulnerable cases be handled in Amigo’s proposed Scheme?
31st March UPDATE Amigo has said that in the Scheme it may, at its discretion, make additional payments outside of the Scheme to customers it considers to be particularly vulnerable. This could be good – but at the moment we have no idea how often Amigo will decide to help people in this way.
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