What do they do?
They are there to get your overpaid payment protection insurance (PPI).
I was pretty sure that I never had PPI but on the off chance I filled in the online form for FTR to check if I had had PPI. I did not pay much attention to the charge level of 30% that they charge and that they notified me about in the first call. To start this process you have to sign a letter of authority but as all their literature says we will do the check for free and only ask for payment if we are successful I did not pay particular attention when signing the letter.
THAT WAS A SERIOUS MISTAKE.
They did find that I had PPI with NatWest Bank and they called me to ask for the details so that they could send off my claim. I answered the questions and they posted the completed form to me asking me to return it so that they could make my claim. Now me thinking much more carefully now looked over the form for the fees and could not find any and so that was when I figured out that they sail close to the wind. It just says if they are successful in the PPI claim then they will charge a percentage fee. But there was no percentage. If I do not see a fee I am not signing. I then ignored their daily phone calls.
THIS WAS A SECOND MISTAKE
I just thought that they were (they are) pushy and definitely stretching what is legal to the limits. What I had not read was clause 1.5 of the letter of authority.
1.5 If you do not return the Lender Questionnaire by post but complete it over the phone you will still be bound by the terms of this agreement.This is a contract where in the ABSENCE of you doing anything the contract becomes active, because FTR know that many clients like me will become suspicious when they send out the questionnaire and it does not contain the fee schedule.
Because that fee schedule is hidden in the letter of authority and their fee is 30% in my version of the letter (the government actually legislated against this level of fees but the legislation only applies to after July 2018). Not only are their fees extortionate but they apply to the full sum before tax. So once the tax is removed they will be over 40% and all they did was send a letter to the bank on your behalf.
I was surprised when NatWest contacted me about my PPI as I thought not returning the questionnaire had ended the matter. they asked me to fill in the details over the phone - the same details that FTR had supposedly sent from my questionnaire. NatWest then sent a letter (a day after the legal deadline but dated before) to say that I had a claim and saying what the payment would be. Then to my surprise I got a bill from FTR asking for 40.5% of the payment as their fee even before I had anything from NatWest. I was very angry and followed their complaints procedure saying that I was not correctly informed. They said we did tell you in the letter of authority and on the phone. They were right yes they did. So I complained again suggesting that clause 1.5 flies extremely close to being an unfair contract term. Which it does. While the contract is specific there is a question in equity about that clause and whether it is fair to impose the terms for an inaction.
FTR operate at the limits of what is legal. They grab as much as they can within the current system and as the government regulates them and legislates against their practices they move just enough to continue gouging clients. I made a mistake but I hope people learn from my experience.
- NEVER deal with FTR or any other PPI company.
- Use the online tools now available for finding if you had PPI and drive companies like FTR out of business.
- If you do decide to use one of these companies read everything and listen to everything. Watch out for clauses like clause 1.5.
- If you do use FTR then make sure you never go over the questionnaire with them online OR if you do cancel their services in writing as soon as you have.
- Just send the letter to the bank yourself when you (or FTR have done the search to find the PPI)- the template is on the Money Saving Expert website.
Meanwhile I am going to send all of my interactions with FTR to the legal ombudsman in the slight hope that someone might do something about these companies. I am looking forward to the government legislation meaning that we can sue the PPI reclaims people for mis-selling us PPI reclaims.