Abbey accused of treating customers unfairly

Ramesh Sharma

June 1, 2004

Bob Grapes, managing director of Bob Grapes Financial Planning, said he was fuming at the conduct of Abbey in relation to how it had treated an existing customer.

The client, who was coming towards the end of his fixed rate product with Abbey, contacted the lender to see what it could offer to retain his custom. Grapes said he was amazed he was not offered Abbey’s top-rated products which he could clearly see on his sourcing system.

He said: “To my amazement I was given the same list by Abbey which included a two-year fixed rate of 5.29 per cent that was way above the 4-odd per cent equivalent it was offering on my sourcing system. When I asked why this was not available to my client it said, yes, you’ve guessed it, ‘new customers only’.

“Things were progressing well with a new lender and then Abbey got in contact asking the client if he would like a better deal. What could I do? Accept the new lender’s fixed rate and pay a £225 admin fee to Abbey for shuffling some paper? Or go with Abbey’s better fixed rate of 4.6 per cent, which was originally not available to existing customers, and pay it £274.

“If I went with the second option I would lose out on a £492 proc fee. As a ‘money-grabbing commission hungry salesman’ I had to opt for option one, didn’t I? But I am supposed to give good advice and treat my customer

fairly so I advised option two. I can sleep well tonight but I am a little poorer than I was.”

He added: “For the ‘Treating Customers Fairly’ initiative to really succeed there has to be real commitment from the likes of Abbey.”

Joe Wiggins, spokesperson for Abbey, said: “All existing customers will have benefited at some point from an upfront deal. Unfortunately, we cannot continue to offer customers that same deal for the whole of their mortgage. However, we do have a range of competitive offers available for existing customers.”

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