Self help writer Maya Angelou says, “You can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle rainy days, lost luggage and tangled Christmas lights” so I am pleased to disclose rainy days are a weather condition to which thirty four years of continuous parenting has not only supplied a ring side seat for many hours of wet suited, watery fun but they have also been the backdrop for numerous convivial gatherings in front of a roaring fire while inclement weather fills reservoirs in a single down pour. Lost luggage has also been an integral part of my life and although I have not endured its inconvenience whilst in transit, five children, six grandchildren and a husband with short-term memory loss has meant I am never more than a whisper away from a panic filled enquiry as to the whereabouts of something vital. I find an un-flustered approach to the retracing of steps seldom disappoints but on the rare occasions it fails a plentiful supply of spares usually saves the day.However, the task of tackling tangled Christmas lights could easily be a euphemism for my increasingly complicated battle with HBOS via the Financial Ombudsman’s Service. Not unlike its namesake, an inordinate amount of time is required along with a steely determination and an excellent pair of glasses with which to spot the intricacies of the task at hand. With this in mind I recently allocated my first child free day since the Easter holidays for the preparation of a response to the Financial Ombudsman Services latest letter in which they claim my HBOS complaint is outside their jurisdiction on the grounds of timescale.
I have asked my adjudicator to consider the following points;
· HBOS have neglected to provide a full and final response to any of my letters of complaint and for this reason should not be left to decide when my six month window of opportunity to complain commences.
· When jurisdiction issues were raised by HBOS at outset (March 2011) I was invited to respond to their argument. On 27 April 2011 I replied with my defence (which the FOS acknowledged on 5 May) and I was then invited by the FOS on 15 May to proceed with the completion and return of their complaint form.
· In the FOS’s letter of 15 March 2012 upholding HBOS’s jurisdiction objections, no mention is made of my correspondence of 27 April 2011or my subsequent letter of 16 June 2011 in which I thank the FOS for supporting my jurisdiction appeal.
· When the jurisdiction issue was raised once again by the FOS on 21 July 2011, I wrote on 25 July 2011 to explain I believed it had already been dealt with in my letter of 17 April 2011. No further mention was made of jurisdiction issues until 14 December 2011despite three further FOS letters to me in the meantime.
· Stating I was unaware of the six month deadline to complain is simply not true. I was only unaware that HBOS had already started the six month clock ticking because of the ambiguous nature of their letters.
· Withdrawing eligibility to an extension of time for my future responses to the FOS gives HBOS a huge and unfair advantage over me as lone complainant.
Safe in the knowledge my five page letter will be rocking several boats before the week is out, I am left to ponder the content of another HBOS response. My additional and separate FOS complaint sights HBOS’s over valuation of my home in May 2006 as pivotal to my family’s financial down fall and entirely responsible for the shortfall arising from the forced sale of my home in April 2009. Having already waited two months for a reply to a letter HBOS claim they have never received, I have now discovered HBOS are to enjoy an additional two months in which to formulate their reply.
Sadly I have no reason to believe I will be hearing HBOS offer me anything like the words of Bank of America Chief Executive Officer, Brian T Moynihan who recently said,
“It's time to acknowledge that our Bank isn't working anymore—not just for the market, but for people, our real customers. We've paid $8.58 billion in relief to borrowers and $3.24 billion in fines. We face lawsuits and claims from citizens, companies, and state and local governments. There is even a petition with the Federal Reserve to break up our bank, adding yet more uncertainty to our position. Finally, we've found ourselves front-and-centre in the national foreclosure crisis, and deep in unpopular investments like coal, at a time when climate change is a growing societal concern.”
Instead, I am in no doubt that despite damning FSA reports, HBOS will be making no confessions nor will they have plans to shelter the individual from the economic down pour their actions have caused. In contrast I suspect many of us will be losing much more than our luggage as a direct result of their “terrible corporate governance” and it will not only be me left untangling far in excess of a few Christmas lights this year. It will be business as usual for HBOS as there is no incentive for them to behave otherwise and the Financial Ombudsman’s Service will remain characteristically ineffective in the wake of the ever increasing demand for justice through a complaints process that constantly creaks in protest to the unprecedented rise in the number of complaints.
Maya Angelou also said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story”... [and while]... “I can be changed by it I refuse to be reduced by it.” I am pleased to report that regardless of the rain, the lost luggage and the tangled Christmas lights, these remain my sentiments precisely!