Financial institutions need to provide ‘real people’ for clients

Judge says clients need more than voices at the end of a call-centre phone

Judge Jacqueline Linnane said some addresses given  were of little use to clients since they were invariably accountants’ offices. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Judge Jacqueline Linnane said some addresses given were of little use to clients since they were invariably accountants’ offices. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

A judge has told financial institutions they will have to provide real people, and not just faceless voices at the end of a call-centre phone, to deal with clients’ financial problems.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane has adjourned until March an application by Vhp Ireland Ltd for judgment for almost €30,000 against a Dublin taxi owner who had bought his Ford Mondeo car initially through Bank of Scotland.

Bank of Scotland, in early 2012, sold on its multi-million-euro loan book which had been bought by Vhp Ireland Ltd, part of a US investment group.

When an application for judgment came before the Circuit Civil Court, the taxi owner Declan Greaves, of Woodavens, Clondalkin, Dublin, said he was prepared to enter a new €300-a-month agreement with Vhp to pay off the debt over the next eight years.

Mr Greaves, who represented himself, said this proposed agreement had been put to Vhp’s acting solicitor because he had been unable to make direct contact with an employee of the finance company.

He would be answered by someone who had no power to make new or change existing agreements.

He said he also had a serious issue to discuss with the finance house regarding the actual car he had been provided with – his Ford Mondeo was supposed to be top of the range but instead he had been supplied with a basic vehicle, he said.

Judge Linnane told Vhp’s legal representatives they would have to provide Mr Greaves with the identity of a real person within the finance company with whom Mr Greaves could contact by phone and arrange a fact-to-face meeting.

When she was told that Vhp’s registered office was Suite 316 Fitzwilliam Business Centre, 77 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin.

She said such addresses were of little use to clients since they were invariably accountants’ offices.

She said Mr Greaves should not be directed to call centres whether within Ireland or in the UK or elsewhere.

He was entitled to meet a real person face to face and she adjourned all issues to March to allow such a meeting to take place and see if Mr Greaves in the meantime maintained the payments he had agreed to.

Last week Judge Linnane directed the legal representatives of Tanager Ltd, another company that had bought over loan books, to similarly provide a man facing eviction from his home with the identity and phone number of a real person he could arrange to meet on a face to face basis.

To facilitate a meeting between Tanager Ltd and Mr McDonald, who represented himself, she extended the stay on the possession order until mid-April next year.