Posts Tagged ‘compensation’

Allegedly, Lloyds Banking Group – who have never been known not to serve themselves first – have been withholding millions of pounds of PPI compensation, thanks to a loophole in the law.

Lloyds Banking Group 001 300x180 Lloyds find a convenient loophole to hold back millions in PPI compensation

The Financial Ombudsman Service say Lloyds is using an ‘alternative redress’ scheme, which complies with the Financial Conduct Authority’s rules, as a way not to give customers their full payouts.

The alternative redress scheme is an obscure, generalised rule that assumes that customers took out regular premium policies – and that they must be reimbursed for that.

But some customers didn’t take out regular premium policies. They were sold single policies on more than one loan. So Lloyds have been deducting the cost of a cheaper regular policy from the payouts, even though some customers are owed more.

For example, one Halifax customer with 2 loans was offered £2300 PPI compensation. But when she brought the case to the Financial Ombudsman, Lloyds were asked to pay her an extra £1200.

Lloyd’s said yes, it WAS using the alternative redress system, but argued that it had done nothing wrong, saying: “The FCA handbook is very clear that in these specific circumstances, the provider should give redress that puts the customer in the position they would have been in had the customer taken a regular premium policy.’

If you want to watch Lloyd’s squirm on TV, a BBC special about the PPI compensation, ‘Britain’s Biggest Banking Scandal’ is due to air tonight.

Judge No more double payouts in financial compensation claims?A case that has been rumbling for some time has now received judgement in the Court of Appeal. Previously, victims of financial loss as a result of mis-selling or inappropriate advice could take their case to the Financial Ombudsman and then also sue the financial firm allegedly responsible for the loss in civil court. The new judgment, on the back of opposing previous judgments, makes it clear that accepting Ombudsman compensation precludes complainants from later suing on the same matter.

While this might initially sound like a triumph of common sense, consumer groups are decrying this as a blow for consumer rights, given that some victims would use their Ombudsman payout, a process which is free, more streamlined and enables faster payouts, to enable them to fund a civil case. It is conceivable that those who have suffered financial loss at the hands of a shoddy adviser might not have oodles of cash with which to fight a court case.

Currently, the financial ombudsman can award maximum compensation of £150,000 to a customer who has suffered a loss due to issues such as negligence, poor financial advice or mis-selling.

The new ruling concerns the case of Barry Clark, 70, and his wife Julie, 68, of Portsmouth, who were clients of In Focus Asset Management and Tax Solutions. The firm advised them to invest the proceeds of the sale of a family business in a geared traded endowment plan. The product was unsuitable for their needs and ended up costing them losses of £500,000- so the couple complained to the ombudsman.

The ombudsman upheld the complaint and awarded the maximum compensation, which was £100,000 at the time. Mr and Mrs Clark then used the money to issue proceedings in the county court for additional losses.

In her judgment, handed down today, Lady Justice Arden acknowledged the way people were combining the two routes to compensation, but felt it was potentially harmful to consumers. She said: “If the Clarks succeed, a complainant may be able to use an award as a fighting fund for legal proceedings. On the face of it this result would be for consumers’ interests, but that is not necessarily so.

“If they lose court proceedings, it may lead to them losing all that they have gained through the FOS [Financial Ombudsman Scheme]. It may also lead to the development of a claims industry in this field that increases the costs of obtaining financial advice: there are already 210 ombudsmen and many more might be needed if a larger group of complainants can apply.” In 2013, the ombudsman received over 500,000 complaints, half of which were upheld, although this does include endless PPI compensation claims.

While many people would want to avoid the UK turning into as litigious a state as some others around the world, is it right that the Clarks are down £400,000 (and more now, after losing the case at appeal) with no means of further redress? Doesn’t this ruling mean that it will be only those who have pots of spare cash to fund a legal challenge who will be able to get their full compensation?

PPI is old news. Welcome CPP!

February 4th, 2014 7 Comments By Thewlis

Credit Card Debt Collectors 300x200 PPI is old news. Welcome CPP!The whole PPI misspelling saga has been dragging on for years. Most commonly attached to loans or mortgages from banks, the cash windfalls received in compensation payouts to the mis-sellees is enough to make you wish you had been gullible fore-sighted enough to take a policy out in the first place. But if you were unlucky enough to have missed that boat, never fear, a new compensatory ship is rolling in. Card Protection Plan compensation.

The Financial Conduct Authority announced yesterday that they are instigating a new tranche of compensation claims for policies sold by Card Protection Plan Limited (CPP), who, unsurprisingly, sold card protection plans as well as identity protection policies, whatever they are.

An estimated seven million policyholders will receive a letter from CPP during February 2014 enclosing a compensation claim form, or two forms for those who purchased both the card and identity protection policies. The policies were often sold when customers called to register or activate a debit or credit card.

The letter will detail how to make a claim IF you feel your policy was mis-sold. Examples of how products may have been mis-sold include being given misleading or unclear information when the policy was sold, on the basis of which, the policy was purchased. Note that the FCA has already found buckets of evidence of widespread mis-selling by the company, resulting in a £10.5million fine in 2012.

Claim makers will not need to provide documentary evidence, but will need to write a short statement saying why the policy was mis-sold. No charge will be made for making a claim (other than by pop-up claims handlers who are probably worming their way up right now), and all claims must be received by 30 August 2014. Note that making a claim will cancel any policies still in existence, so those receiving benefits might want to think carefully before jumping on the bandwagon. Anyone who thinks they should be entitled to claim, but who does not receve a claim form by the end of February should should contact CPP on 0800 083 4393.

Anyone entitled to compensation will have the premiums paid since 14 January 2005 returned, less any sums paid out under the policy, but plus interest. Any premiums paid before that date are lost because such policies were unregulated before then (so providers could essentially do what they liked.)

The banks and card providers who have agreed to provide compensation under the scheme are as follows:

Bank of Scotland Plc (part of Lloyds Banking Group)

Barclays Bank Plc

Canada Square Operations Limited (formerly Egg Banking Plc)

Capital One (Europe) Plc

Clydesdale Bank Plc (part of National Australia Group Europe)

Home Retail Group Insurance Services Limited

HSBC Bank Plc

MBNA Limited

Morgan Stanley Bank International Limited

Nationwide Building Society

Santander UK Plc

The Royal Bank of Scotland Plc

Further information about the scheme is available by calling the dedicated helpline on 0800 083 4393 or on www.cppredressscheme.co.uk

rbs RBS Group promise compensation after technical meltdownRBS Group already have a reputation in tatters, after the group which includes Nat West and Ulster Bank were accused of ruining small businesses and of course, numerous technical issues which left customers unable to access their accounts.

Last night, the group saw everyone complaining that they couldn’t get to their money; the second time this has happened in 18 months, on one of the busiest days of the shopping year. Millions were affected from 6.30pm onward.

On Twitter, complaints were rife, with one customer saying: “Im leaving you #natwest I’ve had enough of this disfunctional relationship”. Another tweeted: “Rbs systems are down again this bank is diabolical in all aspects.” Other customers used much more fruity language.

Susan Allen from RBS went on the radio to face the music, saying: “I’d like to apologise to all of those customers, we realise we’ve let them down.” A statement from the group said that customers who had been “left out of pocket” as a result of the problems would be compensated.

The statement said: “If customers have been left out of pocket as a result of these system problems, we will put this right. If any customer is unable to resolve an issue caused by the disruption, they should get in touch with our call centres or come into a branch in the morning where our staff will be ready to help.”

Westminster City Council are going to pay back a whopping £278,000 in compensation to motorists after they admitted a parking sign had ‘potential for confusion.’

sign 300x168 Council pays out £278,000 for confusing parking sign

5000 motorists have had fines slapped on them for parking in three streets in Central London since 2011. The signs said ‘No parking in the bays between 8.30am and 6.30pm.’ So, obviously you would think you could park there AFTER 6.30. Nuh-uh. Because at 6.30pm, the bays magically turned into taxi ranks. But the signs didn’t say anything about that.

Obviously the council received plenty of complaints about this stupid signage balls up, but they didn’t do anything about it until now, and they’re trying to pass the compensation off as a magnanimous act of charity. In a statement, Westminster City Council said that they would pay back the fines ‘as a gesture of goodwill.’ Awww.

So next time you f*** up in life, just take a leaf from WCC’s book. Wait a while, don’t apologise, but then just throw some money around. You’ll be the most popular guy in town!

Anyway, if you’ve been a victim of this sign, you can apply for a refund on their website. They’re nice like that.

20050820052737Energy Arc central electrode of a Plasma Lamp 300x235 Scottish Power to pay £8.5m to people theyve been idiots toRegulators have railroaded Scottish Power into coughing up £8.5 million in compensation after they found that the energy firm had misled tens of thousands of households over prices.

Scottish Power had to confess that they had indeed, been luring customers with made-up or unreliable comparisons. Ofgem weren’t happy that Scottish Power’s door-to-door sales and telemarketing campaigns basically talked a load of cobblers when estimating household consumption and comparing their products to their rivals. Seems that these salesfolk weren’t ‘adequately monitored’ or trained either.

“While there is no evidence that the contraventions were deliberate or wilful, the contravention cannot be regarded as accidental or inadvertent,” the regulator said.

Scottish Power chief executive Neil Clitheroe apologised “unreservedly”, adding that they’d implemented new controls since the investigation started but will now be paying a nominal fine of just £1. On top of that they’ll be paying out £7.5m in payouts (of at least £50 to each household) in fuel poverty on the Warm Homes Discount Scheme and a further £1m will go to those who fell foul of mis-selling. They’ll have to apply and they’ll get somewhere between £5 and £30.

Of course, it seems that mis-selling is part of the energy companies culture at the moment and with customers increasingly confused by tariffs and the like, once they’re signed up, they’re not likely to move elsewhere. Even customers who do shop around are still looking at a group of companies that are arbitrarily putting energy bills up by eye-watering amounts anyway.

The whole thing stinks basically.

It’s another Barclays balls up

September 17th, 2013 No Comments By Lucy Sweet

300,000 Barclays customers are set to get a little bonus after the bank admitted to making mistakes on the paperwork for thousands of personal loans. If there are errors in the paperwork, it’s the law that all interest should be paid back.

Barclays PA 300x225 Its another Barclays balls up

It’s going to cost Barclays around £100m to recify the mistakes, which go all the way back to 2008. The errors were mentioned in the bank’s annual results in February, and again in a recent prospectus, which stated that their ‘income declined 4% to £1,086m primarily due to provisions taken to remedy historical interest charges incorrectly applied to customers.’

A quivering guy in a suit from Barclays said:

‘Whilst no-one has been mis-sold to, customers are entitled to have their interest payments returned. No customer will pay more than they were ever contractually expected to.’

It’s the latest in a catalogue of catastrophic errors from the bank. As well as this, they did some dirty secret double dealing with investors from Qatar, and are facing a £50 million fine after making secret, under the table payments that didn’t appear on the books. They’re also paying back £290m for trying to manipulate Libor and doling out millions in compensation for mis-sold PPI and credit card insurance.

BAD BANK. GO TO YOUR ROOM.

7 million customers could be due up to £300 compensation each for the scandalous mis-selling of credit card insurance cover by Britain’s biggest banks. 13 banks have signed up to the compensation scheme, which amounts to £1.3bn.

credit card 300x188 Have you been mis sold credit card insurance? Its payback time...

The banks referred customers to insurance company CPP, which sold them pointless policies – like ID theft cover – that the city regulator says aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. The big banks – Santander, Barclays, RBS, HSBC, Tesco and MBNA – managed to co-erce 4.4 million suckers into buying the ID protection policy, which was already covered in the terms of conditions of the credit card.

Customers who took out the cover, dating as far back as 2000, will be entitled to the amount they paid for their policy since January 14 2005, plus 8% interest on any sum they owe.

Barclays are the worst culprit, which is a bit embarrassing for its new chief exec Anthony Jenkins, who appears to have merrily stood by in his previous role as CEO of Barclaycard and let it all happen.

As for CPP, they’ve already been fined £10.5 million by the Financial Conduct Authority, and this latest bout of compensation could put it out of business.

FCA’s chief exec Martin Wheatley said: ‘We believe this will be a good outcome for customers who may have been mis-sold the card and identity protection policies. Subject to CPP’s customers approving the scheme, these policy holders will be able to claim a full refund of premiums with interest.’

HA. HA. HA.

Financial complaints hit record high

May 29th, 2013 No Comments By Lucy Sweet

It’s official – we don’t trust financial services firms, and we’re also getting more confident about complaining to them. Complaints to the Financial Ombudsman have risen by 92% in the last year. Ok, so most of the complaints are in response to those not-at-all irritating recorded message phone calls about missold PPI – but even so – that’s a lot of dissatisfaction.

complaints 207x300 Financial complaints hit record high

It’s the latest indicator that most of us aren’t happy with our banks, and that we don’t want to be hit with extra charges and bad customer service when most of us can’t even afford fabulous luxuries like cheese and shoes for the kids. The general distrust caused by the financial crisis has meant that customers are angry, and if necessary, will take their complaints to a higher level than before.

Chief Financial Ombudsman Natalie Ceeney said: ‘We have seen a much stronger consumer voice in the last year, with people becoming more aware of their rights and less willing to put up with poor customer service.’ So much so, in fact, that the Financial Ombudsman Service might have to take on 1,000 extra staff.

The big high street banks, however, aren’t upping their game, despite there being a record breaking half a million official complaints lodged through the free Ombudsman service in 2012-13. Compensation payments have been particularly difficult to prize out of financial companies, with 1 in 4 initial complaints turning into formal disputes.

Even so, I would say that we’re all being quite restrained, considering how royally most people have been shafted. Instead of going through the Ombudsman, it’s a wonder we’re not all leaving parcels of flaming excrement outside Barclays, instead.

Banks face new wave of mis-selling payouts

January 31st, 2013 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

banks 300x223 Banks face new wave of mis selling payoutsBritain’s banks are, quite possibly, the most hated people in history. They’re worse than Nazis and Manchester United fans. And things are going to get worse for them as they’ve been collectively told that they are facing yet more massive compensation bills after a review of products sold to small businesses found more than 90% had been mis-sold.

The FSA said that a significant number of cases were likely to result in payouts being handed out to customers, with as many as 40,000 of the interest rate swaps being mis-sold to small businesses since the end of 2001.

The FSA today said the UK’s big four banks (Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and RBS) have already agreed to start reviewing individual sales and providing compo. And how much will this cost? It could reach the nosebleed heights of £1.5 billion across the sector.

Interest rate swaps were sold as protection against interest rate rises, however, small businesses soon found they were being lumbered with huge bills after the financial crisis.

Martin Wheatley, chief executive designate of the Financial Conduct Authority, said he hoped the FSA’s actions will ensure a fair and reasonable outcome, adding: “Small businesses will now see the result of the review as the banks look at their individual cases. Where redress is due, businesses will be put back into the position they should have been without the mis-sale. But it is important to remember that this review is firmly focused on the particular circumstances of each sale. These will determine whether there were failings in the sales process and, if so, whether redress is due.”

 

Royal Mail – costs more, gives you less

December 10th, 2012 23 Comments By Thewlis

postman pat special delivery service swimbag Royal Mail   costs more, gives you lessThere seems to be a worrying trend in public service organisations at the moment. Charge more for less! Make people pay through the nose for a lower level of service-that’s the way to make money. London Midland, for example, are still raking in the exact same amount of £millions in Government stipend despite cancelling over 950 trains since mid-October. Now, Royal Mail are getting in on the shafting-the-public act.

Earlier this year, the business came under severe criticism for increasing the price of stamps way beyond the rate of inflation. First class stamps went up from 46 pence to 60 pence and the price of second class stamps from 36 pence to 50 pence. At the same time, no-one reported an increase in service levels, with many people not receiving their mail until late afternoon, or at all if it happened to be raining.

Now, Royal Mail have decided to cut the compensation offered for lost letters. Damaged or lost letters that are untracked (i.e not recorded or Special Delivery) can currently get up to £46 in compensation, but the firm are now ‘consulting’ to more than halve this to £20. The rationale for this has absolutely nothing to do with trying to make the business attractive to private investors in a future flotation, instead Royal Mail said sniffily that they were just trying to be the same as other countries, claiming that many countries including Germany, the Netherlands and the US, do not offer any compensation at all for untracked mail. But quite possibly these countries get their mail a bit quicker. And cheaper- US stamps, for example, currently start at 46 cents.

The announcement was one of a whole host of changes outlined by the taxpayer-owned service company regarding its pricing and services. They are also considering increasing the compensation on recorded items from £46 to £50. ‘Recorded- Signed for’ service costs at least 95p more than standard posting, but even so cannot guarantee the item, posted first class, will arrive the following day. For that you need to pay a minimum of £5.90, almost ten times the cost of a stamp that should do the job.

Royal Mail have already had a few votes in our Worst Company of the Year Award, perhaps they are canvassing for a few more…

Your guide to delayed train compensation…

September 12th, 2012 4 Comments By Andy Dawson

mucky train copy 210x300 Your guide to delayed train compensation...Here’s one that we’ve covered before in the past, but it’s always worth a reminder – if you’re on a train that’s delayed, sometimes by as little as half an hour, you could be entitled to compensation.

In this golden age of deregulation, each of the train companies has their own compensation policy but helpfully, all the links to all the info you’ll need from MOST of them can be found in one place – the London Travel Watch site. Obviously it isn’t a definitive nationwide list as some train companies don’t run services to London, but hey, it’s better than nothing.

Taken from the site itself, here’s your guide to what you could be entitled to if your journey is delayed. Thanks to HotUKDeals member thomasmillbrow for posting it over there.

• c2c Single, return and weekly ticket holders receive 100% refund after an hour, receiving a rail voucher. Season ticket holders recieve 5% or 7% discount on the cost or renewing their season ticket if c2c’s punctuality is less that 87.5% MAA* or reliability less than 98% MAA*

• Chiltern 50% refund after half an hour, 100% refund after an hour. Season ticket holders can also claim 5% discount for punctuality less than 90% MAA* or reliability less than 99% MAA*. Refunds given in rail vouchers and renewal discounts.

• Cross Country 50% refund after half an hour, 100% refund after an hour. Refunds given in rail vouchers.

• DLR 100% refund after 15 minutes for delays within operators’ control. Refunds given in vouchers.

• East Coast 50% refund after half an hour, 100% refund after an hour. Refunds given in rail vouchers.

• East Midlands 50% refund after half an hour, 100% refund after an hour. Refunds given in rail vouchers.

• Eurostar Complimentary journey, 50% discount of future journey or 25% cash refund after an hour. Refunds given in rail vouchers or cash.

• First Capital Connect 50% refund after half an hour, 100% refund after an hour. Refunds given in rail vouchers.

• First Great Western Single, return and weekly tickets: 50% after an hour, or 50% after half an hour on local Thames Valley services. Season tickets: 5% discount for punctuality less than 88% MAA* or reliability less than 98.2% MAA* (long distance) or punctuality less than 89% MAA* or reliability less than 98% MAA* (local Thames Valley). Refunds given in rail vouchers or renewal discount.

• Gatwick Express 50% refund after half an hour, 100% refund after an hour. Refunds given in rail vouchers.

• Grand Central 25% refund after an hour, 50% refund after two hours. Refunds given in rail vouchers.

• Heathrow Express 100% refund after 15 minutes. Refunds given in cash.

• Hull Trains 50% refund after half an hour, 100% refund after an hour. Refunds given in rail vouchers.

• London Underground 100% refund after 15 minutes for delays within the operators’ control. Refunds given in vouchers.

• National Express East Anglia 50% refund after half an hour, 100% refund after an hour. Refunds given in vouchers.

• South West Trains Single, return or weekly tickets: 100% refund after one hour. Season tickets: 5% discount for punctuality less than 89.5% MAA* on local routes or 86.5% MAA* on mainline routes or reliability less than 98% MAA*. Refunds are given in rail vouchers or renewal discounts.

• Southeastern 50% refund after half an hour, 100% refund after an hour. Refunds given in rail vouchers.

• Southern 50% refund after half an hour, 100% refund after an hour. Refunds given in rail vouchers.

• Stansted Express 50% refund after half an hour, 100% refund after an hour. Refunds given in rail vouchers.

Virgin Single, return and weekly tickets: 50% refund after an hour, 100% refund after two hours. Season tickets: 5% discount for punctuality less than 87% MAA* or reliability less than 98% MAA* Refunds given in rail vouchers or renewal discount.

ulster bank 300x173 Ulster Bank FINALLY announce how theyre going to compensate everyone for being rubbishAfter what seems like 5,000 years of waiting, Ulster Bank have finally got round to telling everyone what compensation they’ll be getting after the RBS-wing basically ballsed-up everyone’s accounts.

They’re going to reimburse all of what it terms “reasonable out-of-pocket expenses” which resulted from the disruption which arose from a massive computer error.

For the inconvenience, customers will receive £20 if they visited the bank from 19 June – 18 July and made a transaction. Life changing money, eh? Others meanwhile are advised to contact their local branch to outline exactly how they’ve been troubled and they’ll be invariably fobbed off. Of course, the whole of the RBS Group was affected, but Ulster Bank have by far taken the longest to actually resolve the issue. Some customers were still having problems TEN WEEKS after it all happened.

The bank said it would refund fees, charges and debit interest charged in error and correct any credit interest owed and this will kick in by the end of October. There’s a lot of work to be done because roughly half of the bank’s 1.1m customers felt the force of this boob.

Still, at least chief executive Jim Brown will be foregoing his bonus this year, not that it makes any difference to you and, most likely, very little difference to Jim Brown.

Brown said: “Once again, I apologise unreservedly to our customers and customers of other banks for the inconvenience this has caused and thank them for their patience as we worked to resolve this issue. We recognise that we have work to do to restore our customers’ trust in us and we believe that this is the first step in that direction.”

“We have worked with our key stakeholders to ensure the additional measures which we are taking provide a comprehensive response to customer concerns and demonstrate our commitment to making amends.”

Customers seeking further information can go online, call into their local Ulster Bank branch or telephone 0800 231232. Or indeed, start banking with someone else.

Picture 22 O2 announces refunds following last weeks outage crisisRemember the O2 outage last week? When it seemed as though the world was about to end because O2 customers couldn’t send some texts or check their Facebook on their phones for a couple of days? It was a grim time and no mistake.

But it’s all working again now, even if a survey has shown that a third of O2’s customers are ready to bugger off to another service provider ASAP. The same survey showed that 83% of the O2 gang wanted some form of compensation for the outage, and the object of their ire is ready to give in to this particular demand, with partial refunds, apology vouchers and suchlike.

If you were affected by the outage, read this, which we’ve pilfered straight from O2’s site

We have now identified all those customers directly affected (those whose devices could not connect on our system) and we and are giving them the equivalent of three days back for the disruption as a gesture of goodwill and to say sorry.

• Pay Monthly customers will receive 10% off their July subscription which will be applied on their September bill, which is equivalent to 3 days back

• Pay & Go customers will receive 10% extra on their first top-up in September

To thank all our customers for supporting us through an unprecedented and difficult period, we are also giving everyone on O2 a £10 O2 voucher to spend in store. This will be redeemable via the O2 Priority Moments app or online at www.o2.co.uk/priority. It will be available between 1st and 30th September to download through Priority Moments and use in store, with no minimum spend. (One voucher can be used per transaction and no change given.)

We will contact all O2 consumer customers and those small businesses with fewer than 10 connections by the end of the day on Friday 27th July giving full details. This will be by text message. Other business customers will receive communications through their account managers or our channel partners in the coming days giving full details.

So there you go. If you’re one of the affected customers, is THIS enough to keep you with O2? Tell us – assuming that you’ve been able to connect to the internet and read this, that is…

Fancy a free £10 from HomeServe?

April 20th, 2012 8 Comments By Thewlis

tenner 300x225 Fancy a free £10 from HomeServe?You all know and love HomeServe, that helpful  home emergency insurance service? Well, it turns out that they are so desperate for your custom that they have been badgering poor unsuspecting households with silent and abandoned phone calls in breach of Ofcom rules. And Ofcom have actually done something about it.

Ofcom have announced that, owing to numerous ‘accidental’ rule breaks, Homeserve is being fined a fairly substantial £750,000.  Prior to September 2010 the maximum fine that could be imposed was a measly £50k, and this is the first fine levied since the new rules were introduced. The penalty might even have been higher if Ofcom hadn’t taken into account the steps taken by HomeServe to bring itself into compliance with the rules on silent and abandoned calls, and its offer to compensate consumers who suffered harm from receiving silent and abandoned calls as a result of its breach of the rules.

HomeServe’s misdemeanours include breaking the rule that states that there is a limit on the number of abandoned calls that companies are permitted to make to consumers. Ofcom’s investigation into HomeServe found that the company exceeded this abandoned call rate on 42 separate occasions during the period 1 February and 21 March 2011. This resulted in an estimated 14,756 abandoned calls being made to consumers.

Ofcom rules also prohibit companies from making repeat calls to specific numbers within the same 24 hour period, where a call has been identified by AMD technology as having been picked up by an answer machine. Ofcom found that HomeServe made estimated 36,218 calls in breach of this rule.

Adam Scorer, Director of Policy and External Affairs at Consumer Focus said “silent and abandoned calls are an annoyance and can often cause distress to the people who receive them. While they are usually caused by glitches in the technology rather than a deliberate act by sales staff, they are a nuisance and firms that do not control the technology show a lack of respect to consumers.

“All firms want to run efficient sales operations. But if finding cheaper ways of selling increases the risk of nuisance calls, then firms need to be very vigilant about the controls they put in place to manage that risk.  We are pleased  to see Ofcom take action and hope this serves as a clear warning to Homeserve and other companies to treat consumers with respect,” he finished, Aretha Franklin style.

Tsk tsk. And while we like naughty companies getting fined, we prefer naughty companies who get fined and who offer compensation to customers. And that’s where the free £10 comes in.

HomeServe has established a dedicated helpline for consumers seeking compensation if they have been affected by silent or abandoned calls made by the company between between 1 February 2011 and 21 March 2011. The phone number is 0800 389 5280 and potential claimants should call before 31 May 2012. HomeServe will offer £10 to claimants where their telephone number matches HomeServe’s records of those contacted while they were using the AMD technology that caused the ‘glitch’. Further information on how to make a claim can be found on the HomeServe website. Calls are even answered by an actual human being, who will check your details against their records, and you could earn £10 for simply making a free phone call. Although HomeServe was established in the South Staffordshire Water area, customers in all areas may be affected.

However, if you have already registered on the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), you will probably not be in for a quick tenner. If you aren’t on the TPS, which prevents you from receiving this type of call, but would like to be, you can either contact sign up directly on the web, or Consumer Focus offer a free Stayprivate.org service, which opts you out of the TPS, Mailing Preference Service (MPS), MPS consumer, Baby MPS and Fax MPS.

If you do get some free money, let us know. Or don’t.