Wednesday 24 May 2017

Permanent TSB 'not doing enough' for customers it has overcharged

Permanent TSB has been accused of not doing enough for some of the customers it overcharged on tracker mortgages. Photo: Collins
Permanent TSB has been accused of not doing enough for some of the customers it overcharged on tracker mortgages. Photo: Collins
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Permanent TSB has been accused of not doing enough for some of the customers it overcharged on tracker mortgages.

The claim was made after it emerged that the vast majority of cases where customers appealed offers of refunds and compensation from the bank have been rejected.

Financial adviser Padraic Kissane, who has been fighting tracker-loss cases for eight years and is due to address an Oireachtas Committee on the issue tomorrow, claimed the appeals process was not working properly.

The bank appointed independent members of what it calls a central appeals panel for customers who were not satisfied with the amount refunded and the compensation for being overcharged.

But Mr Kissane is to tell the Oireachtas Committee the appeals mechanism is not working for those who use the process.

He claimed some of the issues he raised at the appeals, on behalf of customers, have not been addressed when the panel's decisions are issued.

Padraic Kissane will address an Oireachtas Committee
Padraic Kissane will address an Oireachtas Committee

The financial adviser is now taking these cases to the Financial Services Ombudsman, with others going to the courts.

Around 1,400 Permanent TSB customers lost out when they were taken off cheap tracker mortgages.

The overcharging meant 61 of the bank's customers, and those of its subprime subsidiary Springboard, lost their homes because they could not afford repayments after losing the cheap trackers.

The Central Bank fined Springboard €4.5m just before Christmas.

Fines are now expected to be imposed on Permanent TSB, and against Ulster Bank.

Some 15 lenders have been told to pore though their mortgage books to see if customers were wrongly taken off trackers.

So far, 8,200 homeowners have been identified across all banks, and most have had the valuable mortgages restored, got interest refunds and compensation.

Some 7,000 mortgage holders had either been restored to trackers or were put back on the correct tracker rate before the current probe was ordered by the Central Bank.

A spokesman for Permanent TSB said it was working closely with Mr Kissane on many cases and "he has been an important voice on this issue".

"However, the appeals bodies which have been established operate independently of the bank and we would be rightly criticised if we were to try to interfere with their decision making in any way," he said.

The spokesman added that the appeals bodies were established as an additional option for customers.

"Customers who are unhappy with the views of the independent appeals bodies can take their cases to the Financial Services Ombudsman for mediation or judgment or to the courts if they wish," he said.

Permanent TSB added that the proportion of customers who appeal its proposals has been quite small.

It said this suggests the majority are broadly satisfied with how it has responded to the failures they experienced.

Director of the consumer protection division in the Central Bank Bernard Sheridan said last week regulators have as a priority the restoration of thousands of homeowners to tracker mortgages.

"We are closely monitoring and have told lenders to put homeowners back on the correct rate as soon as they can. This is the biggest consumer protection review we have ever undertaken. Its scope is huge," he said.

Mr Sheridan did not rule out the total number of people having a tracker rate restored climbing to 20,000.

Irish Independent

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