For many years Welcome Finance provided loans to customers with a poor credit history who were unable to obtain loans from elsewhere. Typically, the company charged extremely high rates of interest, sometimes as high as 85% APR, and many people found themselves trapped by loans and faced paying back significant debts over many years.
Welcome has been heavily criticised in the past for preying on the most financially vulnerable. Many customers have reported being confused by spiralling debts and struggling to free themselves from loans. The situation was often made worse when customers were unable to make payments and were charged penalty fines.
Another issue with Welcome Finance concerns their sale of Payment Protection. Payment Protection Insurance covers borrowers if they are unable to work due to sickness, accident or involuntary unemployment. The cover is usually sold alongside loans and is designed to step in and take over repayments if the borrower is unable to do so. Welcome Finance is estimated to have sold around 500,000 of these policies to its customers. The difficulty with Payment protection is it is not suitable for everyone and sales should be carefully monitored to prevent mis-selling.
For many years PPI generated significant amounts of income for lenders. It generally cost between 13% and up to 56% of the base loan value. On a £10,000 loan it would, therefore, could add anything from £1,300 to £5,600 to the customer’s debt. It would also attract interest at the same rate as the loan which, in the case of a lender like Welcome, could be significant. Added to this the payout against these kind of payment protection policies is generally quite low. In 2008 The Competition Commission found only 18% of customers who try and claim against their policy are successful in doing so. These two factors combined meant PPI generated huge amounts of revenue for lenders. In fact, it was often far more profitable than the interest from the loan to which it was attached.
The Payment Protection balloon finally burst for lenders in 2006; however, when The Financial Service Authority and The Office of Fair Trading investigated the cover and found serious failings in the way in which it was sold. It was discovered that many customers were being put under undue pressure to take out the insurance and policies were being sold to customers who were unsuitable for the policies and would be ineligible to make a claim.
As a result of the investigation there was a huge surged in the number of people making payment protection insurance claims to try and recover their money. Many lenders who had made huge profits from selling PPI over the years were suddenly faced with the prospect of having to compensate victims of mis-selling. An increasing public awareness of the poor coverage often offered by payment protection insurance also led to a significant drop in sales.
For many years Welcome had relied heavily on the sale of PPI to bolster its profits. With rising claims and falling sales the company hit problems. In 2008 it was announced the company had made pre-tax losses of £745 million. The situation worsened in 2009 when it was revealed it had debts that exceeded its assets by £1.1 billion.
In 2010 Welcome Finance was named the fourth most complained about insurance company and it was revealed that 93% of claims about them reviewed by The Financial Ombudsman Service were settled in the customers favour. In March 2011 the company was finally forced to admit that it did not have the available funds to settle the payment protection claims made against it.
With many customers still either owed compensation or anxious to make a claim for mis-selling The Financial Services Compensation Scheme stepped in to announce it would be taking over Welcome claims and paying out compensation as necessary.
If you have a payment protection insurance policy by Welcome Finance that you believe was mis-sold you can make a claim today by calling our team on 0207 471 2000. Remember, if you were given incorrect or incomplete information when you purchased your policy, if you weren’t made fully aware of the terms and conditions or costs, or if you felt pressured into purchasing the cover you could be entitled to make a claim that could be worth thousands of pounds.