PPI claimants may have lost £100s after handing over deposits to a Swansea-based claims management company that has now gone bust. But many affected customers may be able to claw back their cash via their credit and debit card companies.
JAS Financial Services, which traded as Litchfield Price, Hampton Rae and NLC, insisted in certain cases on taking upfront fees for its services – typically ranging from £300 to £500 – with the understanding the money would be refunded if the subsequent PPI claim was unsuccessful.
However, MoneySavingExpert.com has heard from customers who say they were left out of pocket when the company withheld refunds after "failing to adequately progress claims".
We were unable to reach anyone at JAS for comment at the time of publication.
Between 1 January and 30 June this year the Legal Ombudsman received 92 complaints about JAS.
In a statement back in August, the Ombudsman said: "We have been advised by a number of complainants that, in the initial sales call, JAS told them that their claims would be resolved quickly, and that the upfront fee was refundable in the event that all claims were ultimately unsuccessful.
"We are concerned that, by failing to adequately progress claims, JAS are delaying payment of fees where a refund may be due."
The Legal Ombudsman also found that JAS was "failing to keep customers updated as to the progress of their claims".
JAS went into liquidation yesterday (3 November), meaning the company is no longer operational. The liquidator McAlister & Co has told MSE that customers may be able to secure a full refund for lost deposits by contacting their card companies – but whether you're successful in doing this will largely depend on whether you used a credit or debit card to pay the deposit.
This particular case underlines our stance that you should never pay a claims management company to take on a PPI claim on your behalf – do it yourself for free by using our Reclaim PPI for Free guide.
How do I go about claiming a refund?
Despite the fact JAS has gone into liquidation, there's still a chance you'll be able to get the money you paid back. However, the avenue you take for this will depend on how you paid for the deposit:
- Payment by credit card. If you paid by credit card, you can use Section 75 to try to get your money back. This is a legal requirement that applies only to credit card companies, which means your credit card firm must protect purchases over £100 for free.
- Payment by debit card. If you paid by debit card, you may be able to get a refund by using chargeback protection, which is a hidden protection on most debit and charge cards. However, unlike Section 75, chargeback protection is not a legal requirement and you only have 120 days to get the claim in.
A spokesperson for the liquidator told us: "We advise that customers contact their card company direct to get their money back where they paid by card. If not, customers can then get in touch with us and they will then be registered as a company creditor."
If you've lost money to JAS it's worth getting in touch with the liquidator to be registered as a company creditor, regardless of your situation in terms of reclaiming from your card company. But it's important to note that money will first be taken from JAS to pay off larger debts before any remaining funds are split between smaller creditors, meaning you may not get all of your money back (if any).
To register yourself as a company creditor of JAS, contact McAlister & Co on 01792 459600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
'They won't refund my money'
We were originally notified of problems at JAS by concerned customers.
Karen Baxter, who contacted us before the company went into liquidation, said: "Last year a PPI person from Litchfield Price called and said I was due £6,000 back. I had to pay a refundable £500 for them to get it for me. I paid and although they have now said I never had any PPI, they won't refund my money."
Forumite MagpieScott had similar issues after her husband paid £495 to Hampton Rae with the promise the money would be refunded if PPI had not been found within 12 weeks. She said: "Hampton Rae found nothing within 12 weeks and have consistently refused to refund our money."
What does the Legal Ombudsman say?
A spokesperson told us: "We took the decision to publish details of JAS on our website in the public interest. JAS was also the subject of a consumer affairs programme (X-Ray) on BBC Wales. JAS has now ceased trading and we are working with liquidators to try and secure fee refunds for customers who have complained to our scheme."
If you have a complaint about JAS, or any of its subsidiary companies, you should contact the Ombudsman at email@example.com.