Friday, 25 January 2013

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Fifteenth century Italian historian, politician, diplomat and philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli once said, “There are three kinds of intelligence: one kind understands things for itself, the other appreciates what others can understand, the third understands neither for itself nor for others. This first kind is excellent, the second good, and the third kind useless” and now I am finally in receipt of the Bank of Scotland full investigation into my overvaluation complaint it is clear I have most definitely had a close but useless encounter of the third kind.

It is a year since I first accused the Bank of Scotland, via the Financial Ombudsman Service,  of overvaluing my home in April 2006 at £925,00 and I have already received an unsolicited £500 for the distress their delay in investigating this matter have caused me. However I am now in receipt of their full report and in it the Bank of Scotland tell me, prior to instructing their surveyor “our systems were updated to show what the estimated value of the home was at the time. This shows that based on the original purchase price of £890,000 in 2004, the value of the home would have increased to £925,000 [in April 2006.] The valuation carried out for your mortgage agreed with the assessment that was entered into our systems during the application process.” 
After three more pages of “could haves, would haves” and “should haves” based entirely on this statement I am then told, “To compensate you for the delay it has taken to send this response to you, I have agreed to send you a cheque for £100”. This I have now also received with along a covering letter which states it is in “full and final settlement” of my complaint.

This was my reply,

Dear [Bank of Scotland investigator],

Re; Bank of Scotland overvaluation complaint

Thank you for your letter dated 17 January 2013.

Unfortunately, I am unable to respond to any of the points you raise in your letter as the “original mortgage application notes that are held on file for this account” are inaccurate.

I purchased the Tithe Barn in 2000 for £250,000 and not in 2004 for £890,000 as stated in your letter.
You say that your “systems were updated to show what the estimated value of the home was at the time”.
I am assuming that the bank used a sophisticated piece of software to update your systems fed by data which you have gleaned from a number of sources.  Please supply copies and evidence of the data you used to “estimate” the value of my home in May 2006 at £925,000 based on a purchase price of £890,000 in 2004.  I am very disappointed, at this stage of the bank’s investigation, to find I am to experience yet further delays due to such fundamental inaccuracies.

You also state at the end of your letter that if I remain unhappy I have the option to contact the FOS as long as I do this within six months of the date of your letter.  Having previously fallen foul of the jurisdiction issue over time limits with the FOS and the Bank of Scotland I would request that you provide me with the information I have asked for within the next 14 days.  If you are unable to do this, I would further request the time limit be extended to the date of your next response to prevent it eating into my six months.  May I also ask you acknowledge receipt of this letter by return of post.

On another point, I have received your letter dated 17 January containing a cheque for £100 in “full and final settlement” of my complaint.  In your other letter of 17 January you state this cheque is “to compensate (me) for the delay it has taken to send this response to (me)”.  Could you please clarify if by accepting this cheque I would be forfeiting any legal rights I may have in the future to pursue this complaint further.  It is my understanding that this would indeed be the case.  I am very unhappy to have been put in this situation, particularly as I have not been given an opportunity to respond fully to your investigations or any time to argue my case.  My issues with the Bank of Scotland have stolen 4 years of my life and as a result my family has experienced huge financial loss.  To jeopardise my complaint with a cheque for £100 is very distressing.  I am returning the letter and attached cheque for the reasons stated above.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,


cc Financial Ombudsman Service

Eighteenth century poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic Dr Samuel Johnson once said, “Between falsehood and useless truth there is little difference. As gold which he cannot spend will make no man rich, so knowledge which he cannot apply will make no man wise” and as far as I can see those choosing to employ falsehoods and useless truths at the Bank of Scotland have simply not grasped that the purpose of my complaint is to not to finance the repairs on my car with compensation from their mistakes but instead to encourage them to address my miss-sold mortgage.

Now, once again, I await their reply.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Unlevel Playing Fields

Philosopher, lawyer and political theorist Marcus Tullius Cicero once said, “When government becomes powerful it is destructive, extravagant and violent, it is a userer which takes bread from innocent mouths and deprives honourable men of their substance, for votes with which to perpetuate itself” and using austerity measures to redress the fraudulence of the banks and the greed of the corporate elite does precisely the same.

Those who would have us believe “we are all in this together” insisted,

However, during almost five years of economic crisis,
  • Bailouts continue to save the bankers and not their customers or the economy
  • Taxpayer investment provided funds for mis-selling reinbursement and rewards for failure
  • FSA investigations held no-one to account bar a few insignificant fines
  • Job losses and austerity measures reduced the incomes of the vulnerable and left them stripped of their homes

Before the crisis of 2008 those daring to suggest deregulated, reckless lending would come home to roost were labelled incompetents and lunatics. Four years later, as a direct result of bailout related austerity measures, cut backs dictate my eighty six year old mother cannot receive an attendance allowance unless she has been unable to manage her personal care for more than six months and her GP tells me he is unable to admit her to hospital unless he can secure funding for her treatment with ultra sound evidence for which the waiting list is six to eight weeks. Struggling to address her medical emergency along with her future care while unsuccessfully pressing HBOS to investigate my long overdue complaint, it beggars belief to find our banksters, who to date have remained largely unchallenged, are once again deliberating over how best to pocket obscene rewards for their gargantuan failures while the vulnerable and the innocent pay the price for years to come.

For the vast majority David Cameron’s “aspiration nation” is far from a shiny new goal for our economic future but instead a harsh and painful consequence of our bankers wicked past. After decades of unregulated pillaging, banks have bequeathed us a legacy of cut backs and cover ups and because of this, a few much loved but often fanciful aspirations are all a great many of us now have left. Marcus Tullius Cicero also said, “If the truth were self evident, eloquence would be unnecessary” and despite what some would have us believe, the playing field in this financial crisis is definitely not level however eloquently it is portrayed.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Shams and Shambles

American inventor and businessman, Thomas A. Edison, once said, “Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence and honest purpose as well as perspiration” and throughout the difficulties of keeping my family afloat while dealing with the aftermath of our financial demise I have, not unlike Edison, remained convinced that a satisfactory resolution to my Halifax Bank of Scotland complaint will only be forthcoming if I remain sufficiently focused on all that is necessary to accomplish the task at hand.

Committed to the pursuit of an intelligent solution to our predicament following the collapse of our property business (2008) and the forced sale of our home (2009) I have diligently, trawled for news of government rescue packages together with banking reforms and financial regulation which might aid my endeavours. With each and every letter I have written, I have increased my understanding of the ways in which huge organisations like the FSA, the FOS and HBOS are expected to operate and familiarised myself with the guidelines by which they are supposed to abide. The by product of this has been a much broader knowledge and a substantial helping of increased confidence.

Entering the beginning of my fifth year of battle, I remain hopeful that media interest, public outrage and my own refusal to be fobbed off by bully boy banksters and their regulators will eventually combine to affect a change which alters the way in which banks have so far been permitted to treat their victims. However, despite my best efforts and the pre Christmas promises of both HBOS and the FOS with regard to my over valuation complaint, I have to concede to date I have accomplished very little and even the past few weeks spent in hot pursuit of a hearing for my HBOS complaint have done nothing to change this.

Tempered in expectation as a result of HBOS’s past performance but, nonetheless, hopeful my long overdue request of almost year might have come to fruition by 2 January 2013 (as per the deadline HBOS set for themselves) I still remain with without word or any sign of progress. Resigned to chalking up this absence of outcome to an all too predictable lack of HBOS inertia in the face of any investigation, I am doubly disappointed to find the FOS, after admitting they miss handled and delayed the investigation into my HBOS compliant early last year, have once again reneged on their assurances to affect investigative compliance from this too big to fail 41% taxpayer owned bank by not insisting they respond to my accusations within the time frame specified.  It is my belief this lack of momentum only goes to prove, despite what the government, the bankers and their regulators would have us believe;
And, when it comes to providing a fair and efficient method by which the individual can seek restitution in the light of these findings,
  • The UK’s Financial Ombudsman Service is at best a shambles and at worst a complete sham.
Thomas Edison also said, “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways which do not work” and despite a seemingly unproductive year which includes 44 blog post, 1538 tweets, 16,000 page views together with a fair amount of fruitless endeavours in the hands of the FOS, I remain hopeful I will not discover 10,000 ways which do not work for me before I finally achieve a much needed and long awaited way forward with HBOS.