My colleague Roxanne wrote a legal update recently advising of the “small print” in the agreements that you may have with a finance companies that give them the right to terminate the entire agreement (usually hire-purchase) if their customer fails to collect the vehicle within a certain timescale.
I remind clients now of the fact that finance companies will also get dealers to have to re-pay them any fee that the finance company has to pay the Financial Ombudsman Service (“the Ombudsman”) for them to adjudicate on any dispute. Even where the Ombudsman rules that the customer has no justified claim at all, the finance company will refer to the terms and conditions they have with dealers to get that fee back from them.
The current fee is £550 for each case the Ombudsman has referred to it from each finance provider. Save, that is, for the first 25 complaints passed to it by the finance company in a year. Of course, the biggest finance companies will rattle through these quite quickly given that they finance thousands of transactions – and consumers are often notoriously difficult to please!
What we find though is that those finance companies are very keen to use this re-imbursement of the Ombudsman’s fee to “encourage” clients to unwind finance deals even when we feel that there is no legal reason to justify a reversal.
And so clients must be aware that sometimes they just have to make decisions based on pure economics rather than on law or on fact – however painful it might be to do so.