Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Astonishments

Yorkshire born Canadian serviceman Harry Banks and reputedly “the crucified soldier” of the First World War once said, "If at first you don't succeed-try to hide your astonishment" and although the events of recent weeks have provided me countless opportunities to follow this advice, hiding my astonishment has been nothing short of impossible.
  • I have been astonished to discover my now severely disabled eighty seven year old mother has been required to stay in hospital for two whole weeks as a result of the mismanaged administration of her medication and a shortage of mobility assessment appointments with the community physiotherapist.
  • I have been astonished to discover my Incapacity Benefit assessment is subject to an appointment system which not only allows operators to cancel my designated time slot after I have already left home but then puts my benefit in jeopardy if I am unable to attend on a computer generated date which is allocated without consultation.                                                                    
And once again facing homelessness as a result of an unreasonable and violent landlord,
  • I have been astonished to discover our neighbours not only own an additional house in which my family and I can be accommodated but, having had five years to observe us care for our current home, would (as of 1 December) like us to become their tenants in a very attractive property in a neighboring village.
However, despite feeling exceptionally relieved to find I no longer face the prospect of  being without a roof over our heads for Christmas, I remain astonished to find ,

  • Eleven months have passed since I initiated my second attempt at lodging a complaint against HBOS with the Financial Ombudsman Service,

  • Nine months have passed since I originally requested all records held by HBOS pertaining to my mortgage be sent to me via my Data Subject Access Request

  • Fourteen weeks have passed since my FOS adjudicator declined to answer my emails for a period of almost three months,

  • One month has passed since I reported said adjudicator to his line manager and

  • Two weeks have passed since I placed an official complaint with the ICO as the result of HBOS’ non compliance in respect of my Data Subject Access Request.
I am further astonished and nothing short of astounded to learn that, without warning and ahead of the timescales previously agreed by the FOS themselves (and in the absence of the further evidence I have been waiting for the above mentioned nine long months for HBOS to produce) the FOS have now reviewed my mortgage miss selling case and, in the interests of "being fair" to HBOS, have ruled there is insufficient evidence to support my claim that HBOS have been guilty of miss selling my mortgage! 

Famed for his ridicule of the most banal of situations for European based Theatre of the Absurd in the late 1950's, contemporary Romanian playwright Eugene Ionesco once said is it "explanation [which] separates us from astonishment". However, still reeling from both shock and astonishment at the way in which I continue to be dealt with by both HBOS and the Financial Ombudsman Service, it is "explanation" which now separates me in unadulterated astonishment from any understanding of a regulatory culture which prefers to permit the infamous HBOS to with hold evidence and use repeated delays to obliterate my case of complaint rather than take the time to investigate!  

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Shocks and Horrors

Founder of the Johnson Publishing Company, grandson of slaves and the first African American to appear on the Forbes 400 list, John Harold Johnson, once said, “Dream small dreams. If you make them too big, you get overwhelmed and you don’t do anything. If you make small goals and accomplish them, it gives you the confidence to go on to higher goals” and, as a victim of the banking crisis, I have been left with no alternative but to face our family’s problems in much the same way.

Still reeling from the loss of my home, my livelihood and my financial future, I have spent the past five years piecing together a life which was shattered as a consequence of the fraudulent behaviour of the banks. Initially my goals were as small as I could make them but at times it was impossible not to be daunted by objectives I was regularly told were insurmountable because of our circumstances.
  •      Unable to stay in our home, I left no stone unturned in my search for a house.
  •     Unable to produce a satisfactory credit reference I located landlords who were prepared to accept character references
  •     Unable to cover the heating costs of the only house available to me I obtained permission to take lodgers
  •     Unable to fund my children’s school fees I swallowed my pride and went cap in hand to ask for bursaries
 And,
  •          Unable to arrest HBOS’s relentless pursuit of my massive £217,000 mortgage shortfall, I approached the Financial Ombudsman Service to make a complaint.

As a result of my efforts,

  •     My husband, my children and I have had five uninterrupted years in a vast, crumbling, family friendly farmhouse.
  •     My landlord has, for the first time ever, enjoyed five years of uninterrupted rental income safe in the knowledge we would care for and make minor repairs to his crumbling pile.
  •     My lodgers have enjoyed the comforts of living in a family home at a price they could afford.
  •      My children have benefited from an independent education at a school which was struggling to maintain its numbers

And,
  •      The Financial Ombudsman Service agreed, on two separate occasion, to adjudicate my case against HBOS

However, after five years of painstakingly working to rebuild our life, I have watched in horror as much of what I initially achieved has unravelled over the past six months;

  •     A hand delivered Section 13 notice from our landlord’s solicitor dictates a 50%  increase in rent will be effective from 5 Dec and as a result of our inability to pay my family and I are facing homelessness again.
  •     Finding any property via letting agents has proved hopeless as, five years on, they remain unable to put us forward without a satisfactory credit check
  •     Full bursary funded independent education for my dyslexic son’s secondary education is unlikely to be forthcoming as it is improbable he will achieve the required 55% grade in his common entrance exam.

And,

  •     After ten months of rebuilding my second HBOS case of complaint when the Financial Ombudsman Service mishandled my first submission, my adjudicator has finally replied. I have had to waited twelve whole weeks to hear;

“I would like to apologise for not responding to the previous emails you sent across or keeping you updated on your complaint...[but HBOS] has confirmed that it is unable to get hold of [their in house conveyance solicitors] Pathway Residential Property Lawyers. It has confirmed it has called the contact numbers it holds which have a recorded message stating the service is no longer in use. It has also been unable to find a direct website in relation to the business. It has written to them but it would appear that it is unlikely a response will be received. As such I am unconvinced that any further information will be able to be obtained to add as evidence to your complaint...[therefore] I feel it would be right for me to start my consideration of your complaint as it would appear that there is little further information that can be obtained” .

As a result of this experience I can only conclude exoneration for HBOS is the normal result of toothless regulatory apathy while negligent record keeping along with obstructive behaviour appear to be banking business practices intentionally designed to impair complaint. If this is indeed the case, it is little wonder Lloyds Bank and HBOS’ CEO Antonio Horta Osorio, against a back drop of wide spread public hardship, is happy to publicly proclaim they are “back to being a normal company” safe in the knowledge that those of us who are still suffering from the shocks and horrors of  the fallout from their actions continue to be overwhelmed however much we manage our expectations and tailor our goals.

Many of us are still;
  •     Unable to stay in our homes.
  •     Unable to produce satisfactory financial credit references
  •     Unable to find adequately paid employment
  •     Unable to cover our heating costs

    And,
  •     Unable to arrest the relentless pursuit of fraudulent creditors by making a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

     American writer, associate editor of Fortune magazine and futurist Alvin Toffler once said, “Man 
     has a  limited biological capacity for change. When this capacity is over whelmed, the capacity for the 
     future is shock” and having ridden and survived a five year holocaust of  brutal and unsolicited change            only to find myself no further forward, leaves me shocked, overwhelmed and a seemingly
     insurmountable distance from Antonio Horta Osorio’s “back to being normal”.


Sunday, 29 September 2013

Fines and Punishment


Psychiatrist, social critic of moral and scientific foundations of psychiatry, author and academic, Thomas Szasz, once said, “Punishment is now unfashionable...[instead] we prefer a meaningless collective guilt to meaningful individual responsibility” and little illustrates this more effectively than the regulatory approach to the fraudulent actions of the banks.

Over the past three decades, a fraternity of banksters have systematically condoned, endorsed and turned a blind eye to illegal activities which have made them multi-millionaires but, to date, not one of them has personally paid their dues for crimes which include;
  •  Money laundering for drug cartels
  •  Money laundering for terrorists
  •  Mortgage fraud when initiating loans
  •  Repackaging toxic loans and selling them as low risk investments
  •  Betting against these investments to make themselves money
  •  Engaging in insider trading and market manipulation
  •  Misrepresenting their losses and their loan books
  •  Miss selling vast numbers of financial products
  • Rigging Libor ratings

As a result of their actions, a culture of criminality has permeated the core of what was once a service industry and when the consequences of banking avarice rendered too big to fail institutions insolvent, the UK was faced with the prospect of economic collapse and public anarchy or picking up the pieces with tax payers money.

Told we had no reasonable alternative but elect the latter we,
And,
  • Were promised those responsible would be taken to task
As a result of investigations into the skulduggery of the banking crisis both the UK and the US regulators have levied the following fines;


      HSBC (2012). Fine: £1.1 billion. Reason: Money laundering

      JP Morgan (2013). Fine: £572 million. Reason: 'London Whale' trading scandal 
      
     UBS (2009). Fine: £485 million. Reason: Tax evasion

     Standard Chartered (2012). Fine: £415 million. Reason: Anti-sanctions

       ING (2012). Fine: £385 million. Reason: Anti-sanctions

       Goldman Sachs (2010). Fine: £359 million. Reason: Misleading investors

        Credit Suisse (2009). Fine: £333 million. Reason: Anti-sanctions

        ABN Amro (2010). Fine: £311 million. Reason: Anti-sanctions

        Barclays (2010). Fine: £280 million. Reason: Libor manipulation

        Lloyds Bank (2009). Fine: £218 million. Reason: Anti-sanctions

But opting for a meaningless collective punishment funded wholly from banking profits and not the pockets of perpetrators has done nothing to arrest the greed which has driven us to a banking crisis and has instead allowed those responsible to;
And this year,

  • Share a bonus pool of nearly £4 billion which amounts to a shade less than all the larger fines of the US and UK banks put together and gives the recipients an estimated 82.2% rise on the bonus pool  of last year.

In complete contrast to the collective luck of the UK’s banksters, over the past five years,
And,
  •  It has become all too evident that there is no incentive for either the Financial Ombudsman Service or Halifax Bank of Scotland (now disguised as Lloyds) to give my five year old mortgage "miss selling" complaint the attention it deserves.
Ancient Greek philosopher, author, teacher and polymath, Aristotle once said, “The generality of men are naturally apt to be swayed by fear than reverence, and they refrain from evil rather because of the punishment that it brings than because of its own foulness” but if the penchant for collective and meaningless punishment continues to leave those responsible for the banking crisis unaccountable for their crimes, then fear and foulness may well be all we, the victims of the banking crisis, can anticipate.

This is quite simply unjust.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Friggatriskaidekaphobia


Lawyer, politician and seventeenth Prime Minister of Canada, John Napier Wyndham Turner once said, “Substantive and procedural law benefits and protects landlords over tenants, creditors over debtors, lenders over borrowers...” and, as a victim of the financial crisis, I know each and every word of this statement to be true.

Over the past five years I have been told,
  • Creditors who hound are not bound by their regularity codes of conduct because these are only guidelines
  • Requests made by he Financial Ombudsman Service of lenders under investigation are not binding and therefore they are not obliged to comply
And,
  • Regardless of the terms laid out in the Housing Act for the treatment and rights of tenants, my landlord holds all the cards because, at any point after the first six months of my assured short hold tenancy, he can give me two months notice to quit.
However,
  • I have also been told by both our local police and my solicitor that if my seventy five year old landlord ever enters my rented home uninvited and physically attacks my husband again, we will be well within our rights to bring a case against him for harassment and common assault,
Revolutionary, socialist, philosopher, economist and sociologist Karl Heinrich Marx once said, “Landlords, like all other men, like to reap where they have not sown” but I hoping, after the events of this Friday the thirteenth, my elderly, hot headed landlord might now be wondering if he is about to reap a whole lot more than he bargained for!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Hammered


Eighteenth century German philosopher, cultural critic, poet, writer and composer Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche once said, “There are people who, instead of solving a problem, tangle it up and make it harder to solve for anyone who wants to deal with it” and much to my dismay this is precisely the position I find myself in now.

When, in November 2008, HBOS acquired a court order to repossess our family home, I contacted the landlord of a property which I knew had been reduced to a cold, leaky, rat invested shadow of its former glorious self. Too onerous a task for even the most robust of tenants to consider anything other than fleetingly, it had stood empty for the majority of the time that it had been available to let. However, where some saw a crumbling country pile which offered only ice cold winters, damp rooms and a fair few furry friends as housemates, I saw a five hundred year old home which was long overdue some TLC along with a landlord who might actually consider us, despite our financial circumstances.

After some tense moments of negotiation with regard to both our adverse credit history and the level of rent we could afford, the deal was done and in January 2009 we moved into a dilapidated manor house with Tudor origins. Over the past four years and nine months we have endured constant leaks, inadequate heating and all manner of wildlife infestations, but, with the help of our family and friends, we have battled with the elements to turn a once neglected house into a home and, until recently, believed all concerned were delighted with both the transformation, the financial arrangement and the way in which we have kept on top of the minor repairs.

However, following a meeting with a company advocating sustainable heating systems supported by the government’s renewable heat incentive, the attitude towards us has most definitely changed.  

After months of surveys and sales pitches, my seventy five year old landlord is now convinced we are grossly underpaying. Furthermore, he is adamant the installation of a bio-mass boiler (at a cost of somewhere in excess of £130,000) will not only service our family's heating requirements along with those of the four small commercial units he rents out in the adjacent barns, but it will also provide him with a generous return. Based on calculations produced by the salesman who remains blissfully unaware/disinterested in the ongoing structural problems of the property or the letting difficulties of the past, he has advised our landlord that the property will command a further £500 a month more in rent, inclusive of central heating fuel once the new heating system is operational.

What my landlord, his solicitor and the heating agent have failed to appreciate when formulating their calculations is;

·         A smattering of ancient radiators, many of which are broken and all of which are fed by small gauge pipes, will not be sufficient to provide adequate heating in a house of this size, however efficient the boiler

In order to stay warm I will still need to spend a further £240 to heat the water and fuel the fires on top of the inclusive rent

·        While my husband has enjoyed a cumulative wage increase of 7% over the past four years (amounting to approximately £90 a month in total) this has only served to reduce our reliance on tax credit and has not increased our household income

·         I am already in possession of £1066 pounds worth of Calor gas fuel for the winter (for which I am unable to obtain a refund) which I am still paying £154.00 per month

·         The ongoing economic crisis has not improved the chances of acquiring tenants for very large, expensive to run shabby old houses which are not water tight

And,

·         Demolishing listed outbuildings and listed walled gardens without the necessary consents usually ends in tears.

So, while I now await the outcome of irate neighbors incensed by the unapproved decimation of my historic rented home, a formal rent review via an agent which will inevitably result in my being served notice to quit and the information I have been waiting for from HBOS since February, I cannot help but be astounded to discover that despite my letter of the 1 August 2013, the Financial Ombudsman Service’s adjudicator has been unable to press HBOS to provide me with the documentation I have repeatedly requested of them via my Data Subject Access Request because he has, until yesterday...

Misplaced my correspondence!

The imminent Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche also said, “Whoever does not know how to hit the nail on the head should be asked not to hit it at all” and as a result of the summers endless shenanigans, I am fast coming to the conclusion there are many who should have laid their hammers to rest some time ago.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Socially Useless Banking Regulation


Ardent socialist, co-founder of the London School of economics, novelist and playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “Until the men of action clear out the talkers, we who have social consciences are at the mercy of those who have none” and true to form, the talkers would have us believe austerity measures along with the reform of banking regulation have put both the heartache and the economic implications of the banking scandal firmly behind us.

Keen to keep us all abreast of the good news we are told;
However, for the  99% of us who occupy the real world, the picture remains significantly less rosy;
  • The long overdue FSA/FCA investigative report into the collapse of HBOS is to be delayed until next year.
  • “Economic recovery has been restricted to those at the top...it is not recovery for most people” Labour spokesman to Reuters 
  • “A significant cohort of UK borrowers could experience financial difficulties if interest rates were to rise during a period of subdued income growth,” Financial Stability Report
  •  Living standards in the UK are lower than they have been for a decade because inflation is still outstripping wage increases Reuters
  •  Barclays and Lloyds have set aside a further 450 million to compensate people they have defrauded and Lloyds have used delaying tactics to encourage complainants to give up on their claims. 
In addition to these far from comforting social truths,  
  • The recently published bi-annual Financial Stability Report states, the banks Financial Policy Committee relaxed the regulations for the UK’s big four lenders to allow them to "reduce their capital requirements by 20%"  and in so doing has provided them with a further 70 billion of cunningly disguised bailout.
Meanwhile, trapped between the legacy of widespread and hitherto unpunished banking avarice and the greed of my landlord, my family and I wait, without patience, for;
  • HBOS to supply me with information I require to progress my case of complaint to the FOS
  • The FOS to respond to my 1 August request that they ask HBOS to supply me with the information I have been awaiting for eight long months
  • My landlord's builders to finish their noisy decimation of the Grade 2 listed property I have called home for the past five years
 And,
  •  A letter from my landlord’s solicitor to advise me he wishes to increase my rent by a staggering 50% as a result of the installation of an extremely expensive, entirely unsolicited, sustainably fuelled heating system.
In October 2012, Any Haldene, Executive Director of Financial Stability and member of the Financial Policy Committee, made a speech to Occupy Economics to advocate socially useful banking. He said “concrete, practical proposals for change” would be delivered by way of banking reforms which addressed the five “c’s” (culture, capital, compensation, credit and competition) and further stated, “We know too that the costs of crises are felt disproportionately by the worst-off in society whose living standards tend to fall not just relatively but absolutely”. Yet, five arduous years on since my family and I lost our home, our livelihood and our financial futures, the talk continues while, for the 99%, the painful consequences of the crisis remain unchanged.

Stoic philosopher, inspirational master of equanimity and the last of the five good emperors of Rome, Marcus Aurelius, once said, “The guest at the lower end of the middle couch...who is digging in his big mouth with a toothpick is a fraud. He has no teeth” and while I wait, without mercy for the toothless Financial Ombudsman Service, to progress my miss selling complaint against HBOS, I can only conclude both the talkers, the bankers and the regulators are precisely the same.




Sunday, 4 August 2013

Lest We Forget

Canadian born writer and theologian William Paul Young once said, “Forgiving is not about forgetting but it is about letting go of another persons’ throat” and having spent the past five years within the strangle hold of our creditors, I am thankful the vast majority of them have chosen to forgive.  However, I have returned home from a very welcome break with my family to be greeted by some correspondence which clearly  illustrates letting go of our throats is the last thing the Halifax Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group have in mind.

It has been six months since the Financial Ombudsman Service both ruled in my favour and awarded compensation for the distress and inconvenience that Lloyds Banking Group’s miss-handling of my husband’s credit card debt caused. Since then Lloyds have not only sold the debt twice but ignored both the income and expenditure form I completed as well the offer of settlement I made.  I am now faced with compiling yet another Financial Ombudsman Service Complaint at further cost to both myself and the tax payer.

I had hoped, as a result of my four letters to the HBOS Data Subject Access team, I would be returning to the missing documents pertaining to my miss sold mortgage.  Instead, I have received a letter which the reveals  the following:

       HBOS’s internal credit check document does not list the extent of the borrowing which was outstanding at the time of my mortgage application
       HBOS do not hold any accountants evidence to support my mortgage application
       HBOS do not hold a financial fact find of our circumstances in support our mortgage application
       HBOS continue to be unsuccessful in their endeavours to obtain information from their in house solicitor or surveyor
       HBOS are unprepared to disclose the reasons why my broker was removed from their panel during the underwriting of my mortgage
       HBOS are unprepared to send me their compliance check list on grounds it is not my personal information

This was my response;

Dear HBOS Data Subject Access Team,
Ref: *******
Thank for your letter dated 23 July 2013 and the further copies of information I requested along with your comments.

However, I have some further requests.

1.     Please may I ask you to confirm the credit reference summary is an external credit check document carried out to establish the level of financial commitment a customer already has at the time of application and not just an in house list of HBOS borrowings based on internal information and details supplied by the broker. If it is not, please supply me with copies of the external credit check carried out at the time of underwriting my mortgage.

2.     Please may I ask you to supply me with copies of the letters the DSAR team have sent to both Colleys Surveyors and Pathway Residential Lawyers requesting complete copies of my files.

3.     I would like to draw your attention to the Liberty Guide to the Human Rights Act 1998 in which it states, ““if information about you is held by your doctor, by your bank, by a credit reference agency, by your employer or by the tax-man, the likelihood is that it will be [available to you under the rules of a Data Subject Access Request because it is deemed to be] your personal data”. [This extends to] “personal data where it is processed to learn or record something about that individual or where the processing of that information has impact on that individual”. In the light that removing my broker from your panel may have had an adverse effect on the underwriting of my mortgage and your internal compliance checklist may well prove inadequate checks at the underwriting stage of my mortgage application have impacted on me personally, I would like to, once again, request that you supply me with the following;

  •        Documentation which explains to the reasons my broker was removed from your panel.
  •        The name of the department or the person responsible for overseeing my mortgage in the light that my broker was no longer at liberty to oversee it.
  •       The internal regulatory checklist which complies with the FSA rules for the responsible underwriting of residential re-mortgages.


I look forward to hearing from you,

Yours sincerely
LAD

Soon after I sent this letter I was asked the following two questions by an Associated Press journalist. In the light of my ongoing battle and my recently received communications from both the Lloyds Banking Group and Halifax Bank of Scotland, I stand by the following answers.

Q. Do I feel the banks can now be trusted?

A. I have never enjoyed blind faith in the banking industry but, coming from a financial services background myself, I expected the banking fraternity to abide by the law, operate within regulatory guidelines and, as professionals, exercise a duty of care towards their clients in all their transaction. I believed they would follow a strict regime of client fact finding to establish which loans, investments and life policies were appropriate for their customers and I assumed them would pursue a responsible and ethical approach to the underwriting of anything they sold. I now know, as a result of my own experience, this has been far from the case and because of this I no longer trust them in any shape of form. Neither do I believe they possess the integrity or the incentives to address the cultural issues which have supported their long standing penchant for profiting from their customers by miss selling and manipulation. Despite the economic crisis and widespread hardship their actions have caused, they have suffered little consequence for their fraudulent behavior. No heads have rolled (other than those of their victims) and fines which bare little relation to the amount they have successfully procured and kept by way of ill gotten gains, only pay lip service to their empty promises of change. 

 Q.Would I consider taking out a mortgage or investing with them again?

 Because of a banking system which continues to reward dishonesty and avarice, I and my family lost our home, our livelihood and our financial future so there is little chance I will ever secure another mortgage and I no longer enjoy a level of remuneration which allows me to save. However, should I, by some wild stretch of the imagination one day be eligible for a mortgage, I would never agree to using a lenders in-house solicitor to convey my mortgage nor would I allow their in- house surveyors to value my property. I shall never ever again permit a mortgage broker to submit an online mortgage application in my name. Furthermore, I would not take out a joint and severally liable mortgage without written agreement from the lender confirming they would contact me separately from my co borrower (even if he is my husband) about every aspect of my mortgage application, its underwriting and its administration throughout its term. In the unlikely event I might one day have money to invest, I would not touch the banks with a barge pole.

William Paul Young also said, “Forgiveness does not create a relationship. Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their mind and behavior, a relationship of trust is not possible” and although I hope one day I might be able to forgive those bankers who have chosen to keep their hands firmly around my throat for the past five long years, I most definitely will not be forgetting their names.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Adverse Effects

Former US Ambassador to Spain and nineteenth century author Washington Irving once said, “There is, in every true woman’s heart, a spark of heavenly fire which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity” and in the face of further obstacles of my own, kindling up and blazing with heavenly fire seems the only way forward.

During the past month I have been advised by our land lord,

  • He wishes to carry out building works on a neighbouring property which will necessitate the decimation of our back garden throughout July and August.
  • He is switching our central heating system to that of sustainable fuel in two months during which time he expects us to use up all the LPG and oil we have already purchased for next winter
  • Our residential tenancy is in jeopardy because, not only have we enjoyed a very low rent for the past four years but, despite having been given permission to have lodgers at outset, we are technically in breach of our lease.

During the past fortnight I have been advised by the HBOS data subject access team,

  • Their mortgage department is not responding to their requests for the information missing from my mortgage file
  • Their in house solicitors are proving impossible to contact
  • Their in house surveyors have ignored all their requests to communicate

And,

During the past week I have repeatedly advised my twelve year old dyslexic son,
  • Being repeatedly punched, scratched and sworn at by two of his classmates while on their five day French trip is a serious offence.
  • The cuts and bruises he has suffered will soon heal and neither show or hurt
  • Reporting bullies is always the right thing to do despite the discomfort from the fallout.

Ancient Greek philosopher and teacher Epicurus once said, “You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships every day. You develop it by surviving difficult and challenging adversity” and it is at times like these I can only hope he is right!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Ridiculous Solutions

Ancient Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor and astronomer Archimedes of Syracuse once said. “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it and I shall move the world” and, despite an HBOS penchant for obstructiveness, I, like Archimedes I am still hoping a little leverage, along with the evidential support from my HBOS Data Subject Access Request will eventually produce some world moving success of my own.

The Liberty Guide to Human Rights states “if information about you is held by your doctor, by your bank, by a credit reference agency, by your employer or by the tax-man, the likelihood is that it will be [available to you under the rules of a Data Subject Access Request because it is deemed to be] your personal data”. This extends to “personal data where it is processed to learn or record something about that individual or where the processing of that information has impact on that individual”. However, much to my own consternation and that of my Financial Ombudsman Service adjudicator, it has proved extremely difficult to acquire all the HBOS documentation relating to my mortgage miss selling case.

Eleven weeks have passed since I was allocated an FOS adjudicator to investigate my complaint and I am still waiting for HBOS to provide me with the following information,
  •           Full details of the valuation undertaken for mortgage purposes on 26.4.06 by Colley’s Surveyors.
  •          Confirmation of who was responsible for overseeing the processing  of my mortgage (as the file notes I have received so far say my broker was removed from the panel during its underwriting).
  •          The reason my broker was removed from the panel in the first place
  •          Copies of all of  the HBOS and broker’s compliance check sheets associated with my mortgage application
  • .      A full copy of the HBOS and broker Fact Find which supported my application.
  • .      Copies of all documentary evidence supplied by our accountant
  • .      An explanation as to why, according to my screen notes, my application was eligible for a maximum loan of £1,260,050 when my home supposedly enjoyed a risk assessment value of £925,000 and our application was for a remortgage amounting to £795,000.
  • .      A full copy of HBOS’ contracted solicitors file for my conveyance
And
  • .      The identity of the individual who was responsible for underwriting and signing off my remortgage in May 2006.
Anxious to expedite matters, I rang HBOS to solicit a more immediate reply.

I was told,

·         The incomplete copy of my file should not have been sent out without fully addressing my requests
·         My questions would be answered (or declined depending on whether or not they are deemed to be personal data) within 14 days

And, (seemingly totally unaware of the fact that the DSAR team have already ready sent me the names of at least three people who worked on the underwriting of my remortgage)

·         I will never be provided with the names of the individuals who underwrote my mortgage as this would constitute a breach of HBOS’ employee Duty of Care.

Keen to keep the Financial Ombudsman Service abreast of the situation in general I wrote to my adjudicator and was informed,

·         I have already had eleven weeks grace to provide additional evidence
·         The FOS must be fair to both parties at all times,
·         To provide me with a further extension to gather evidence would be unfair to HBOS and
·         If I have not received the evidence I am waiting for before 28 June, the FOS investigation into my complaint is likely to proceed without it.

Greatly disturbed by the dubious logic of my adjudicators comments, I replied with the following,

“Dear Financial Ombudsman Service Adjudicator,

Thank you for explaining to me how things work and I understand my case cannot drag on indefinitely and nor would I wish it to. 

In an effort to expedite matters, earlier today and before I received your email, I spoke to the DSAR team at HBOS who apologized for agreeing to send me information and then not acting on it. Today they have assured me, once again, they will reply within 14 days with regard to the information I have asked for. Thankfully they have also offered to help secure my files from their contracted surveyor Colley's and their contracted solicitors Pathways Residential Mortgages as they say this information should have been available to me in the first place. According to **** **** on the HBOS DSAR team, contracted surveyors and solicitors often misunderstand that the individual is entitled to have sight of their own files.

Although I appreciate you must make sure you are fair to both sides and 11 weeks is a long time to wait for me to supply additional evidence, I believe the fact that I have been unsuccessfully requesting this evidence from HBOS for much more than 11 weeks is in itself unfair. I am now very worried to hear you may well have to proceed with my case on the 28 June regardless of whether or not HBOS have fulfilled my request for valuation and conveyance information. I believe progressing your investigation without all the evidence will only serve to disadvantage my own case of complaint while actively encouraging HBOS to drag their feet in the future and this is not fair to me.

I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that I am more than happy to collate and send the further evidence I spoke of as quickly I can, once I have received, it but sadly the time frame still rests firmly in the hands of the HBOS DSAR team.

I do very much appreciate where you are coming from but hope you won't mind me pointing this out.

Yours sincerely”

Life After Debt

The Mad Hatter in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland once said, ““If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would” and,  if the results of last week’s communications with both HBOS and the Financial Ombudsman Service are a measure by which to assess them, it appears that in the world of the Financial Ombudsman Service and that of the HBOS Data Subject Access Request team, the logic is precisely the same.

Nevertheless, I have no alternative but to I await their replies.