In the last year Churchill Sloan has recovered more than [TotalReclaimed] for happy clients who were mis-sold their packaged bank accounts with an average payout on a successful case of £1,500.
A packaged account is one for which you pay a monthly fee, which is fine if you are paying for services you want and need.
They are available from all the high street banks under a variety of different names, but essentially they all offer a series of benefits as well as looking after your money. Prices vary, but the average cost is between £5 and £25 a month.
However, tens of thousands of people have discovered they have been mis-sold their account because they are paying for something they don’t need, didn’t ask for or could not claim on.
Some account holders may find they have used just one of the benefits on offer which was way over-priced. For example, an account with a £15 monthly fee will cost £180 a year and if you only use it for travel insurance it would probably be very easy to find a cheaper stand-alone deal elsewhere.
The Rev Brian Scott is one account holder who was hit with a double whammy. First his standard current account was upgraded to a £25 a month paid account without his knowledge. It had a range of benefits like mobile phone and travel insurance, but he was already covered for them with other policies and the bank had not checked to see if this was so.
When he finally discovered he was being charged after a few years he contacted the bank and asked them to refund the fees. The bank refused so the Rev Scott took the case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) who ruled in his favour and ordered the bank to refund £1,500 in charges.
After receiving his payout he said: “Banks can do what they want, when they want, and my case is an example of how banks mistreat their customers.”
There many different types of complaint, but the most common are:
- The bank pressured me into taking out a packaged bank account.
- The bank told me I had to have an account to get an overdraft, credit card or loan.
- I didn’t even know I had a packaged account. I wasn’t given the choice.
- the bank sold me a packaged account – but I already had some of the things that came with it.
- I didn’t use the features that came with the account.
Making a claim
If you feel you may have been mis-sold the first step is to complain direct to the bank who should then investigate what happened and decide if you were mis-sold or not. If they agree that you were then they should repay all of the fees you have paid.
Sometimes the bank disagrees with your version of events and rejects the claim, as they did with the Rev Scott. Like him you are entitled to refer the claim to FOS who will assess it impartially and have the power to overturn the decision in your favour if they feel you are right.
A FOS spokesman said: “We look at the evidence to establish what happened when the account was opened. We usually look at whether the bank gave the consumer advice or a recommendation – and if so, whether it did enough to make sure that any insurance policies it recommended as part of the account were suitable for the consumer’s needs.
“Regardless of whether the bank gave advice, we will look at whether it gave the consumer clear information about the cost of the account, how it worked, and the specific products that were included – to allow the consumer to make an informed decision about whether to open the account.
“In those cases where we decide that the bank had acted unfairly, we look at the broader circumstances to decide what it should do to put things right.”