Saturday, 9 February 2013

Truth and Punishment

Mahatma Gandhi, preeminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India once said, "Many people, especially ignorant people, punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you are right and you know it, speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth" and after receiving not one, but two heartless letters of HBOS hogwash this week it is clear that ignorance and a complete disregard for the truth is not just the prerogative of Gandhi’s British-ruled India.

It is now four and a half years since the sale fell though on our home and I was prompted to discuss with Halifax Bank of Scotland how best to avoid repossession. Deaf to my proposals to create a tenancy to cover mortgage payments, I embarked upon another fruitless year of communication with HBOS after they forced its sale. During this highly stressful period I enlisted the help of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau’s but, despite their best efforts, no amount of explanation could satisfy this infamous bank that we were in extreme financial difficulties or persuade them to arrest their pursuit of us. It is was only after I consulted a government funded debt management organisation in desperation that I discovered the mortgage on my home may well have been miss sold in the first place.

It has taken me a further three years, via the Financial Ombudsman Service, to persuade HBOS to investigate my complaint only to find their original offer of mortgage was based on both a fictitious purchase price and a fictitious date of purchase at the application stage. I was sure making HBOS aware of this discovery would illustrate, without question, that not only did my compliant have substance but both HBOS’s surveyor and the broker to whom they paid more than £4,000 for placing the mortgage with them, had over-valued my home at outset. Convinced I had finally secured HBOS’s attention, I was relieved to have taken my first, albeit small, step forward after so many unsuccessful years of trying to communicate. Here follows their reply and sadly nothing could have been further from the truth.

In HBOS’s first letter they state,

“The information that was provided in this [mortgage application form] was what was entered into our systems. We took this as being accurate in good faith, and based upon the valuation that took place during the application process, there was never any reason to think this was wrong...Having viewed your comments and our response, my previous letter...has provided you with our final conclusions...As you have reached the end of our internal complaints procedure, any further correspondence received will be placed on file as we do not feel that further communication with you will help resolve your complaint.”

In HBOS’s second letter (which arrived by the very same post) I am told “this matter” has now been put in the hands of their debt collectors.

Because of the scandalous actions of banks such as HBOS, the taxpayer has been saddled with,
Yet I who have lost my home, my livelihood and my financial future at their hands can not only expect to be pursued by them for a £217,000 shortfall for the foreseeable future, while they, in the face of evidence which clearly illustrates there has been serious wrong doing, choose to remain ignorant of the truth and punish me for having the audacity to speak out.

Harvey Fierstein, American actor, playwright, author and champion for gay civil rights once said, “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim and accept no one’s definition of your life,” and because of the way in which HBOS have continued to treat me, it is my plan to turn this day along with each and every other one into an opportunity to follow, without deviation, every single word of Mr Fierstein’s advice.