It appears, in my case, the Financial Ombudsman is not a man but instead a woman. I know this because she has written to me today advising me unless I have a strong argument to the contrary, she will not be able to investigate my complaint against the Bank of Scotland. Apparently, this is not because I have no case, but merely because it is more than the six months since I have, so say, received the Bank of Scotland's letter of final response.
Thankfully, my knowledgeable friend Chris has a different take on this and has spent a whole afternoon with me writinge a reply which hopefully illustrates I am entitled to be heard. After all, the Bank of Scotland's agents Merrils Ede have been in correspondence with me on the Bank of Scotland’s behalf, both via the CAB as well as directly with me, as recently as January 2011. I can only hope this argument of mine (and Chris's) carries weight so I able to make use of the Ombudsman's service to get to the bottom of the three questions I have been asking the Bank of Scotland since October 2008.
1. Why did the Bank of Scotland proceed with forcing the sale of our home?
- in spite of new government guide lines discouraging this heavy handed approach,
- in spite of their actions escalating £27,000 of arrears into £217,000 of shortfall
- in spite of knowing we had a long term tenant willing to pay rent which covered the interest payments.
2. Why has the Bank of Scotland persisted in repeatedly seeking a payment arrangement to recover the shortfall?
- in spite of knowing full well we have no means with which to do so
- in spite of knowing the FSA guidelines specifically recommend lenders should not pursue people who have no money
- in spite of having already written off our credit card on compassionate grounds because of my husband’s breakdown
3. Why has the Bank of Scotland repeatedly ignored letters from me asking for information to support my case against them?
- in spite of being requested to do so three times in the last six weeks
- in spite of being repeatedly sent reminders
- in spite of being told, at their suggestion, I am taking the case to the Ombudsman
I can only hope my Ombudsman has teeth because the truth of the matter is I cannot afford the alternative. I am told it will cost £40,000 to take the Bank of Scotland to court and although I have it on good authority I do have a case against them, sadly, it does not qualify for "no win no fee" status. If this is the norm there is little wonder the Bank of Scotlands of this world have grown accustomed to riding roughshod over us mere mortals, safe in the knowledge we have no means which which to fight back. It suspect it may well be the subject of much amusement for them knowing people in my position have no real chance of being heard.
There is, however, one aspect the Bank of Scotland has felt perfectly able to write to me about and while one might think it is some form of debt counselling or perhaps even legal or bankruptcy advice, the truth of the matter is the Bank of Scotland is extremely comfortable writing to confirm they have, at last, noted my new address. They have done this no fewer than eight times. According to the American author Henry Thoreau, it takes two to speak the truth, one to speak and one to hear. With this in mind, maybe I should stop lamenting that which the Bank of Scotland seem unable to hear and I should, instead, be taking solace in the simple truth I have, nearly two years down the line, succeeded in getting the Bank of Scotland to realise because they forced the sale of my home two years previously, I now have a new address.