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Thursday 8 December 2016

Clients 'will be lucky' to get third of cash from bill-pay firm

Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor and Aideen Sheehan

Published 13/08/2011 | 05:00

THOUSANDS of people who had savings with a collapsed bill-paying service will be lucky to get a third of their money back, it emerged yesterday.

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Customers of the Home Payments Ltd, who paid the firm to take care of their bills, had their payments made on their behalf in July but the indications were yesterday that further bills would not be paid.

This is despite many consumers paying money upfront to Home Payments to handle their gas and insurance costs.

Head of the National Consumer Agency (NCA) Ann Fitzgerald admitted this could mean that some householders would end up having to pay on the double -- that is, having already put money into Home Payments, they will now have to pay the bills directly.

Ms Fitzgerald denied the NCA had let down the customers of Home Payments Ltd by not doing more to ensure customer money was returned.

The closure of Dublin-based Home Payments last Wednesday left 2,300 consumers exposed to financial losses.

Retrieve

The High Court was told last Friday that clients were owed €6m in total, with individual amounts owed ranging from under €1,500 to €10,000.

It is understood that liquidators Eamonn Richardson, of KPMG, and Eamonn Leahy, of Leahy & Co, who were appointed by the High Court last week, feel they will be lucky to retrieve a third of the money each customer has paid to the firm.

A source close to the liquidators said they were likely to sell assets in the firm and could, at best, pay out 30c for every €1 owed to clients.

Operating in Dublin since 1963, Home Payments took over the paying of householders monthly bills like rent, mortgage or insurance for a fee. A typical client would not have a bank account, and would prefer to have someone else managing their finances and paying their bills for them.

Ms Fitzgerald said clients would be individually contacted by the liquidators over the coming days and that the NCA would try to ensure people did not pay on the double.

She has met a number of regulators of the companies whose customers paid their bills through Home Payments.

They have agreed to deal with these people sympathetically, and have encouraged affected customers to contact them.

Ms Fitzgerald said that all bills up to the end of July had been paid. The NCA has advised anyone in difficulty to contact the Money and Budgeting Advice Service.

Irish Independent

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