by Susan Foster
Member of the Chartered Institute Of Journalism
A new type of Consumer Complaint programme starts filming in the fall. Not only does it look into the complaint but it goes behind the scenes and interviews the people who make the decisions that affect other people's lives. It looks at the directors, where and how they live and if they don't want to be interviewed, CC will find a way to get under their skin, just as they do when they have no right.
It also shows the viewer how to deal with debt and what their rights are against invasive telephone calls from collectors demanding money.Does it mean that you should be harrassed and victamised because you are low on money - is it not bad enough that your job is gone and that you barely have enough to live? Consumer Complaint says no more - this is war.
If you are currently having financial problems, and lets face it, many people are today, a good way to handle callers is just to say who you are when they ask for your private details, just inform them that you don't give these over the phone. They are then unable to go any further with the call and must ask you to ring in - which you don't need to do. Tell them to write to you and remember that when it comes to credit cards. loans and other financial arrangements, the law is surprisingly protective of you. If something has gone wong and you struggling - you don't need to pay them - just put them on hold and eventually you may be able to get a good part of the debt written off.
We are not saying that you should go out and spend loads of money on your credit card and then refuse to pay, but if you have genuine problems, these companies must wait for their money.
Consumer complaint is still finalising which companies to name, shame and deal with, but currently on the roster we understand are Aviva, Barclays, two Councils, Capital One, Santander, 2 different Ombudsman, and 3 (mobile phones)
Personally, I think of Barclays as a particularly nasty bank and one that manages to get away with all sorts of things without the Ombudsman lifting a finger. Lloyds are the bank we recommend here and the only one that seems to really care about it's customers.
3 are also not a company we would recommend getting involved in in any way. Vodaphone are a much better company to deal with and better products as well.
As for Aviva, if you are looking for insurance of any kind, especially home, don't even consider them. Having had personal experience with Aviva, a loyal customer for many years (when they were known as Norwich Union) I have been bitten twice in two years, once from an insurance claim and once from an endowment policy. Aviva promised to look into the endowment policy but so far have neglected to come back to me.
As for the insurance claim, it lies with the ombudsman. They never had any intention of paying it, their loss adjuster was not even interested in the damage, merely in finding a way out of paying anything.
Funnily enough, Aviva are quite happy for the Ombudsman to look at it, they know how long it takes and that the longer it takes, the better it is for them. I would not be in my current financial state if not for the snowball effect of that claim going wrong and my having to pay for something that should have been taken care of for me. A position I think many people today find themselves in as insurance companies and financial institutions do their best to protect themselves and stitch up the little people.
Consumer Complaint aims to take back the power and bring unreachable organisations and those that shield them into the light, to make them own up to their mistakes and pay out where they should. Not in, what appear to be nameless large fines that the ombudsman throw out every now and then to make us believe that these ex bank managers and such really care, but payments to real people so that they can get their lives back on track.
Consumer Complaint has been a long time coming - let's hope it is brave enough to really make a difference. I think it will.
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