Irish playwright, journalist and co-founder of the London school of Economics, George Bernard Shaw once said, “Cruelty must be whitewashed by moral excuse and pretence of reluctance” and unsurprisingly my experience in the ineffectual hands of the Financial Ombudsman Service has amounted to nothing less.
Established in 2001 by parliament, the Financial Ombudsman Service is supposed to be an impartial and independent body which settles disputes between consumers and UK based businesses providing financial services. We are encouraged to believe the law requires the ombudsman to take into account relevant law and regulations, regulator's rules, guidance and standards, codes of practice, and (where appropriate) what he/she considers to have been good industry practice at the relevant time, in order to make decisions which are fair and reasonable. From a current case load of over 500,000 each year (a level which has swelled its ranks by four fold since the onset of the banking crisis in 2008), it is estimated the FOS rule in favour of the complainant in approximately 49% of cases.
As a result of my appeal to have my case against HBOS reviewed by an ombudsman, my FOS Final Response has not only dismissed the majority of my case as immaterial and irrelevant but my ombudsman states she has “difficulty in accepting” my claim that either HBOS or their mortgage broker acted fraudulently in order to secure my mortgage business.
I am told she, like my adjudicator, is;
“Not required to respond at ... length or to respond to each and every point raised” but instead has “considered the case in the light of the lending climate at the time [having] noted that the bank has said it will not be pursuing Mr and Mrs [Life after Debt] for the shortfall debt" (a statement which is completely untrue).
Despite the basis of my complaint being that my mortgage application was submitted on line by a broker I never met using an application form I never saw, I am further advised;
- “ The bank could not have been expected to know the information about the purchase price and date was untrue”
- “The [brokers signature] on the application form [and the photo copied passports] confirms there was a face to face meeting”
- “The factual inaccuracies in the application...were signed as being true”
Former Chief Ombudsman Walter Merricks once said, “The FOS is an unusual creature. One I would suggest parliament would not have dared to create had the ground work not been laid by a series of voluntary initiatives. It is a one sided scheme offering an unlevel playing field broadly supported by those playing up hill...We do not have to pretend to find what the law is. We unashamedly make new law”.
After six whole years engaged in battle with HBOS, a shambolic and whitewashed FOS investigation into my case of complaint has now thrown me straight back into the lawless clutches of HBOS and their debt collectors.