Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Officials and Enforcements

Economist philosopher and author Friedrich August von Hayek once said, “Even the striving for equality by means of a directed economy can result only in an officially enforced inequality” and while evidence both at home and abroad continues to support widespread belief regulators will go to any lengths to uphold light touch enforcement in the financial sector, it has been no surprise to discover, after nineteen arduous months of corresponding, officially enforced inequality has also been the outcome of my Financial Ombudsman’s Service investigation.
When, in February 2011, the FSA originally advised me it was not within their remit to investigate individual reports of banking malpractice, it did not occur to me I would unsuccessfully struggle, for almost two years, to solicit the attention of the Financial Ombudsman Service. After repeated attempts to sweep my mortgage shortfall complaint under an HBOS favoring carpet via an "informal" investigation, I was encouraged by the FOS to "carefully consider" an HBOS offer of short term respite from debt collection pursuit. Had I agreed this would have permanently crippled any hope of my ever building a legal case.  It was at this stage it became abundantly clear the FOS's objective had very little to do with restitution for the individual and far more to do with damage limitation for HBOS.

After further investigation on my part it has now come to light that not only has my appointed Ombudsman upheld HBOS's claim that my case cannot proceed on the basis of jurisdiction, but to top it all I have also discovered the FOS have absolutely done nothing to progress the HBOS over valuation complaint I submitted to them more than eight months ago. Incensed at their blatant disregard for my numerous requests for their assistance, I sent the following letter to the Financial Ombudsman Service hoping it might galvanize them into action.

“Thank you for your letter dated 14 September 2012.
While I understand that this is your final decision on the issue of jurisdiction and am dismayed with the outcome, I am also very disappointed with the way in which I have been misled.  For over a year I have been led to believe that I had successfully established the exceptional circumstances as to why this complaint should go ahead.  Instead, I have been placed under the misapprehension that the jurisdiction issue was settled and my complaint ongoing.
I approached the FOS in March 2011 to initiate my complaint and was made aware of a possible jurisdiction issue in April 2011. However, on the 9 June 2011 I received acknowledgement from the FOS stating my case was to progress and replied, on the 16 June, saying how delighted I was that the jurisdiction issues had been resolved.  During the following months, and at your request, I spent an inordinate amount of time preparing my case and supplied you with detailed accounts of what happened.  I am now, 15 months later, quite frankly astounded to find the jurisdiction issue has not only come up again but been upheld in favour of the Bank of Scotland.  

I would very much appreciate an explanation as to how and why I was misled.

Secondly, I am more than a little confused about your statement:

“This final decision does not relate to the new issues raised by Mr and Mrs [Life After Debt] about an overvaluation of their property in May 2006.  They will need to raise this complaint with the bank first, before the FOS is able to consider it.”  

As no doubt you are aware from the file, I raised this complaint via [the FOS adjudicator] in February 2012, only to be notified two months later that the Bank of Scotland had insisted they had not received my complaint from [my FOS adjudicator].  [My FOS adjudicator] subsequently advised me in June 2012 she was submitting my complaint to the Bank of Scotland again. She told me she would pursue them for acknowledgement but I would have to wait at least another 6-8 weeks before they would deal with it.  I have, as instructed, continued to wait for a response from both yourselves and the Bank of Scotland only to receive your recommendation stating I need to raise this matter with the Bank of Scotland. This leaves me very perturbed once again. 

I would very much like an explanation.

I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that I have been told repeatedly, and on occasion, aggressively that it is unfair to expect the Bank of Scotland to wait for more than two weeks while I prepare my case despite the fact that I am doing the work while fulfilling my role as a mother of three children and have neither assistance and or expertise to call on to aid me.  However, the Bank of Scotland have repeatedly been given excessive amounts of time, amounting to a number of months on several occasions, to formulate their replies.  I do not understand why it is just the individual complainant that is pursued aggressively by the FOS for their replies and not the Bank of Scotland.  It feels very much like favoritism and I would like an explanation for this unequal treatment.
Yours sincerely

Mrs [Life After Debt]”

Thankfully this time my letter was immediately acknowledged but nevertheless I remain, as I have done for the past two years, perched uncomfortably on the edge of my debt fighting precipice waiting, once again, for the Financial Ombudsman Service to respond. While historian, author, media critic and blogger Eric Alterman says the "ability of the one percent to buy politicians and regulators is nothing new [and] inequality [is] a permanent part of our economic system" I know from past experience  the best I can expect for my endeavors is yet another substantial helping of officially enforced inequality cunningly disguised as a Financial Ombudmans Service reply. 


No comments:

Post a Comment