I don’t know whether this came about due to any of my campaigning but on 17 November 2010 the Office of Fair Trading made an order against HFC forbidding them from applying the collection charges. I finally felt vindicated after 7 years of trying to prevent this theft myself. On 16 November 2010, Stephen Green, chairman of HSBC was made a peer. Was the timing coincidence?
Unfortunately the order was hidden away, attached to a press release the OFT issued concerning charging orders being used by creditors oppressively, and nothing to do with collection charges. It did not really reach the public and was not reported in the media. Was this deliberate because of the ennoblement of Stephen Green? The full order can be seen here.
What is notable about the order is that it does not suggest that the charges are unlawful and I suspect that the OFT did not even know this. It does imply that there is no contractual provision for them. However, the charges are in breach of the OFT Guidelines on debt recovery:
Clearly if you add a charge of £4,962.06 to an account before you have written one letter this is in breach of those guidelines, particularly when there is no contractual provision for the charge. This unfair practice can be challenged under s140 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.