News Column

Getting help: 'I can't praise them enough'

September 2, 2014

Fiona Jarvis contacted the ombudsman after problems with payday lender Wonga. Jarvis, whose name has been changed to maintain anonymity, took out a pounds 1,000 loan with the firm several years ago when her mother died and she needed money for a last-minute flight home. Charges on the loan came to around pounds 500, and she fell behind with repayments and had to borrow more every month to keep up.

"I told them I was having problems, we arranged a repayment plan," she said. However, something went wrong: "I made a couple of payments, but they didn't allocate them to my account so added on over pounds 1,200 in interest. I spoke to someone there and thought it had been sorted.

"Then I went into a debt management plan with PayPlan, and made payments for about two years. I got some well-paid work last year, and saved up to pay off all my debts. I was horrified to find the amount I owed Wonga included the interest they had added when they 'lost' my payments."

She got nowhere when she complained to the lender, so tried the ombudsman. "Fortunately I had saved all my emails from my dealings with Wonga, so I just printed everything out and sent a form off to FOS [the ombudsman]. They wrote me a letter explaining the process, and asking a few questions to clarify," she said.

After the ombudsman stepped in Wonga agreed to take off the interest and pay pounds 50 compensation. It took around two months for the ombudsman to make a decision, but Jarvis said it was still worthwhile. "I can't praise the FOS highly enough. They were non-judgmental, they never condemned me. I think the problem is lots of people are not aware of how FOS can help them." Hilary Osborne

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Source: Guardian (UK)

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