This extract from an email received by a journalist recently from HSBC seeks to claim that the illegal charges were nothing to do with the solicitors, but were added by the bank. I know this is completely untrue, I was head of department at Weightmans, instructed by the bank and was involved in configuring the software to enable the charge of 16.4% to be added to debts immediately they are received from the bank.
When I first started trying to reclaim money on behalf of consumers the bank said that the charges were nothing to do with them and that I should refer to the solicitors involved as adding the charges was their policy and not the bank’s.
The fact is the bank had a contract with the solicitors allowing for them to apply the collection charge for their costs. The charges were added by the solicitors, administered by them, collected by them and retained by them for their costs. The bank paid not one penny in legal costs to the solicitors. The solicitors even funded the litigation and paid all court fess.
See the extract from a letter from Restons to the court below where they say that the charges were “added to the account by the claimant”. The bank blamed the solicitors, the solicitors blamed the bank.
The bank typically would state that no refund of the charge was due, this from a letter dated 15 September 2010:
I would then file a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service claiming the charge back and the bank’s solicitors would then produce a statement showing an alleged credit of the charge, dated prior to the bank’s letter stating that no refund would be given. I have been told that such a retrospective credit could amount to false accounting. This statement alleged a refund was made on 6 September 2010 (strange that a refund should appear to have been made after a referral to the Ombudsman):
In some cases the bank has threatened the customer if they tried to reclaim the collection charge, in order to discourage them. In one case they insisted on increased monthly payments, and (I was told on the telephone by a potential claimant) threatening to claim interest after judgment (to which they were not entitled as they had not claimed it on their claim form).