A few years back my husband was on a very low wage earning only 90 pounds a week and was studying for a degree in Law. We were struggling with feeding and clothing our 3 children and keeping a roof over our heads at the time when our bank charged us 64 pounds in one day for two defaulted direct debits this left us with 26 for the week to pay for electric, gas and food. My husband then phoned up the bank and tried to talk to them and get the money returned the woman on the phone was very patronizing and in the end offered to refund one of the charges. Being stubborn my husband said that he wanted both refunded or he would file court papers they refused. He then set about searching case laws and regulations relevant to penalty charges and came across the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 To cut the long story short my husband took the bank to court and they failed to file a defense in time they then applied for a set aside order and were granted this by the judge then came the settlement offers. Eventually he settled the case when offered 5000 when our claim was for only 600. With the money that we won he set up penaltycharges a website to help other people do the same and because of the media attention his case bought we have helped people claim over 5 million pounds back to date and this is just the people who have added to the winners total on our site. We get some appalling stories of how people through no fault of their own have ended up in thousands of pounds worth of debt due to the charges spiraling out of control i have had grown men phone up for my husbands help who have been in tears on the phone. All it takes is one bounced direct debit for the charges to start then the next week you get another and another until these people have no way of paying the debt. We have some narrow minded people who post on the site that its your own fault if you looked after your finances properly this wouldn’t happen and if you contact the bank they will help you
I have a message for these people that say by doing this will be an end to free banking and look after your money better (heard it so many times before) think again about what hard times people go through. People who have been through divorces and are left with the children and the debts. People who have been in serious accidents who cant work (how long does it take for compensation). People who suddenly loose their jobs . And yes it can take only 1 charge to cause these spiraling debts and 95% of the time the bank refuse to listen. Don’t get me started on the Indian call centres.
There is a test case running now between the OFT and the major high street banks, since the announcement of this case the FSA has ordered the courts to stay the bank claim cases however credit card charges can still be claimed. We are still recommending people file there bank case claims or they will lose out due to the 6 years limitations act.