Fighting for cash
Ceri Evans chatting to Rachel
They're quick to take your money, but many X-Ray viewers are telling us that claims management companies often don't deliver the punch they promised.
Boxer Joe Calzaghe is the public face of Cwmbran-based ‘We Fight Any Claim’ but the man behind the company, Simon Chorlton is also someone X-Ray knows well. He's the boss of ‘Yes Loans’, another company that's left many viewers out of pocket.
When ‘We Fight Any Claim’ cold-called Ceri Evans from Neath in August 2010 they told her she could claim back more than two thousand pounds of payment protection insurance, or PPI, they said she'd been mis-sold.
Ceri told X-Ray, “I didn't think I had PPI as my father was guarantor for the loan, so I didn't need insurance. They made out that in first phone call that they had my records in front of them and that I definitely had this PPI.”
‘We Fight Any Claim’ told Ceri that they charged a 30% fee for any successful payout, but she assumed she’d pay at the end of the process. She agreed to pay £245 to start the claim but within days the company demanded the rest of the money.
“I was really upset,” she said. “I panicked, because I didn't have that money. I asked if I could cancel and he said no, if I cancelled they'd take me to court for remainder of fees.” In total, Ceri paid £700 on her credit card, hoping ‘We Fight Any Claim’ had told her the truth, that her bank did owe her more than two thousand pounds.
However Ceri's bank, Halifax, confirmed what she knew all along - there was no PPI on her account. Even then, We Fight Any Claim refused to throw in the towel, saying they'd continue to chase Halifax as banks often don't investigate claims properly.
Eighteen months on, there's still no sign of a payout. Ceri has tried to cancel her claim but was told she’d owe the company thousands of pounds for the hours they’d already spent on her case.
Like Ceri, Yvonne Westmacott from Fairbourne in Gwynedd didn't think she had PPI, but the company insisted she did, when they called her out of the blue a year ago. “He was very pushy and wouldn't give up”, she explained. “He asked what credit cards and what mortgages I’ve got and told me I could possibly get £9000 back.” However, she was told she’d have to pay a huge fee to proceed.
“He said for the one claim you have to pay £659 and for the other claim we want £2121”, she said. “If we don't get you that money back we'll refund your money straight away.”
Yvonne was persuaded to pay almost £2800 but her mortgage and credit card companies soon confirmed there was no PPI on her accounts. Since then, Yvonne's had some of her fees back from We Fight Any Claim, but a year on they still owe her more than £2000.
The Ministry of Justice is supposed to act as a referee, checking that claims companies aren't breaching of its code of conduct. But are they doing enough to knock this industry into shape? They say they are now monitoring ‘We Fight Any Claim’ closely and have placed restrictions on the company, which is no longer taking upfront fees.
In a recent undercover survey, ‘We Fight Any Claim’ told a researcher at Which? that their success rate was 90% compared to 10% if you claimed yourself. James Daley from Which? told X-Ray, “It’s absolutely not true that claims management companies give you any greater chance of success.”.
The consumer organisation wants to see the Ministry of Justice doing more to regulate the industry. “We want to see a ban cold calling, a ban on upfront fees,” James Daley explained. “There's absolutely no need to pay an upfront fee to a claims management company. We don't think you should use one at all but if you really want to, at least go with one that doesn't charge you a fee till end of process.”
‘We Fight Any Claim’ told X-Ray they're sorry Ceri and Yvonne aren't happy with their service and they've launched an investigation into their complaints about unacceptable staff behaviour. They also say a member of staff should never have claimed that their success rate was 90% instead of 10% if you claim for yourself.
And there's good news. Due to the long delays, they're going to give both customers full refunds - that's almost £700 for Ceri and more than £2000 for Yvonne. Both their banks have told us there was never anything to claim anyway. As for Joe Calzaghe, he's not involved in the day to day running of the company and his father, Enzo, says the boxer doesn't want to comment.
Remember, you don't need to use a claims management company to reclaim PPI from your bank or lender. You can do it yourself for free, using a template letter from one of these consumer websites: