Charlie Weston: 'Regulator looks weak as families left to battle banking Goliaths without its support'
James is not one bit happy that the Central Bank has essentially shut down its probe into tracker cases.
And he has 49,000 reasons to be unhappy. The homeowner reckons the failure of AIB to put him on a tracker rate has cost him €49,000 since 2011.
Last year, AIB wrote to the family accepting it should have moved it to a tracker in 2011, but as the bank had stopped issuing trackers this was not possible.
The letter offered compensation of €1,000, stating that had trackers been available in 2011 then the rate James would have moved to would be 7.9pc, something which James says is barely credible.
But it gets worse.
When the letter arrived the family was on a variable rate of 3.1pc.
"They offered to move us there and then to a higher rate of 3.32pc. Some would say this is disgusting," he says.
James says his family feels like a latter-day David pitched against the banking Goliath.
His case is just one of thousands of disputed cases where tracker-denial issues have yet to be resolved.
This situation has caused a number of commentators to question why the Central Bank has decided to end its probe into the tracker scandal.
The Central Bank is expected to fine AIB, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank and KBC Bank in the coming months, after issuing a record €21m fine to Permanent TSB in May.
But the decision to stop trying to force banks to concede on disputed cases makes the regulator look weak.
Calculations by tracker restoration expert Padraic Kissane and this newspaper estimate that there are close to 10,000 unresolved tracker cases.
Trackers are worth fighting for, particularly as this country has the second most expensive variable rates in the eurozone.
Trackers are set at a margin over the European Central Bank rate. Many are set at around 1pc above the ECB rate, but some are as low as 0.5pc over the ECB rate. That means those lucky enough to have a tracker are typically on a rate of 1pc, as the ECB rate is zero.
Disputed tracker cases come in a variety of hues. Some, like the 200 staff and ex-staff at Bank of Ireland, reckon they were due to go back on a tracker after fixing for a period. ECB interest rates rose between 2006 and 2008 prompting many to fix. Those who opted for a fix had expected to revert to a tracker at the end of the fixed period.
Other disputed cases involve mortgage holders who have been told they should have been given a tracker, but were not. They have been offered small amounts of money, but not returned to a tracker or given redress for being overcharged.
Then there are cases where people are being told they are getting a tracker back but the margin is so high that it is not actually a tracker at all. James is one of those.
The Central Bank argues that it has pushed the banks as hard as its powers allow it to have cases resolved.
It says it has worked "to the limit of its mandate" to resolve disputed cases. If these cases end up in court it is likely the courts will come down on the side of the banks because of the way the mortgage contracts were drafted.
Appealing to the better nature of banks, and telling them they are supposed to act in their customers' best interests, seems to have run its course.
It seems the banks have decided: this far we go, and no further.
People affected will now have to appeal the decisions of their lenders to the Financial Services Ombudsman.
That will leave ombudsman Ger Deering with some tough calls to make.
But he will be only too aware that his office has some ground to make up on this issue, having previously rejected so many tracker denial cases.
Over to you, Mr Deering.