I received a note from one of my visitors yesterday which, in my opinion, is a good example of the issues and problems facing the poor endowment holder. I have attached extracts of the emails between myself and my visitor.
1 Dec "Hi Ken
Just to let you know I heard from the Ombudsman last Friday saying they can do nothing for me. My policies were 1986 and 1987.
I also had a policy from 1990 which I accepted a settlement on a couple of years ago. I did not proceed with a complaint about the earlier policies because I did not realise I could take these to the Ombudsman then.
I worked my way through "the major building society's" (editorial change) complaint procedure and after receiving the final letter from them I contacted the Ombudsman in April.
They wrote to me in July saying I was out of time. I wrote back explaining I had followed the procedure and had my final letter telling me I could go to the Ombudsman.
Ombudsman wrote back saying they would send my letter to "the major building society" (editorial change). When I had heard nothing for 2 months I e-mailed them at the beginning of November. Apparently "the major building society" (editorial change) reply was lost in the post!
The Ombudsman suggests I was out of time and should have sent the complaint in 2 years ago. They also say they believe I was only worried about the falling value. They did not see my complaint as mis-selling. I have been told I can take them to court but I am retired for Gods sake! How do I pay for that!
I will just have to put it down to experience.
All the very best with your claim....."
my reply 1 Dec "....What a disgrace! I must admit I am expecting the Ombudsman to reject my claim against B as this was pre 1988. It is not clear, to me anyway, as to which body you are then meant to take your complaint.
I will cross that bridge when I come to it...."
2 Dec to me "...Hi Ken Its my understanding that if the ombudsman rejects a claim the only step then is to take the endowment company to court. I believe the small claims court has a limit of £5000 and I would suspect most people's endowments are greater than that. Most little people would be unable to take on the big firms, they wouldn't have the endowments in the first place if they had that sort of finance..... I shall continue to watch you site with interest. All the best...."
My reply..."I am not entirely certain about what options there are after the Ombudsman. I take your point about the costs (and let us not forget the stress) of going to court, it seems to be a catch 22 situation.
Re your specific case wrt endowments purchased prior to 1988, I think the Consumer Association website has the address of another body; which they imply (though not very clearly) may deal with these. I think, if memory serves, it is called the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
As an alternative, you could try the technique of shaming the firms into doing something by writing to eg The Times, the Consumers' Association and BBC's Watchdog (the latter have a website through which you can submit your complaint, www.bbc.co.uk/watchdog I think). However, there are certainly better things to be doing with one's life!......
You may enjoy reading my articles on corporate governance and leadership, on "In Your Face", as a distraction from this. Maybe the Boards of our endowment companies should read them as well!..."
I would very much appreciate clarification from anyone out there in cyberspace as to whom one is meant to complain to about endowments sold pre 1988, if both the sales comapny and Ombudsman reject the claim. I know that The Consumers' Association are watching this site, please coud you guys clarify this?