Nearly two years after admitting it had breached the Consumer Credit Act, the Co-operative Bank still has not refunded all the affected customers.
The situation comes to light as the bank contacts 1,750 former and existing customers to tell them it owes them money because it failed to send them annual statements as required by the Consumer Credit Act 1974 (CCA). Those 1,750 represent one specific breach, the bank says.
Co-op refuses to say whether it violated other CCA rules, but it has referred to "breaches of the technical requirements of the Consumer Credit Act". It also refuses to say how many customers were affected.
It has set aside £169.4 million to cover refunds to customers for all the violations, so the latest 1,750 are likely to represent only a small proportion.
Co-op has been contacting current and former customers since October 2013 – when it admitted to breaching the CCA – to let them know they're entitled to a refund of interest and charges applied during the non-compliant period (see the Lenders to repay £149m after paperwork blunders discovered MSE News story). Seventeen banks were later ordered to issue such refunds, but the regulator named none of them.
Co-op won't speak about refund amounts or tell us how long it breached the CCA rule changes which came into force in 2008.
The bank says affected customers should be contacted by the end of this year.
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I think I'm affected, what do I need to do?
Co-op says neither former nor existing customers need to do anything. It says it is tracing former customers and those who may have moved address.
Why am I only being told about a refund now?
Despite first revealing the problem in October 2013, Co-op says "it just takes a little time from disclosure of an issue to then write to customers" and that it's "ensuring the process is right".
Not just Co-op breached the CCA
In March 2014, the now defunct Office of Fair Trading (OFT) ordered 17 banks and building societies – which it did not name – to compensate customers over their failure to comply with the CCA.
To date, we've reported on the following providers paying redress, but apart from Co-op, the others remain unidentified:
- December 2012: Northern Rock Asset Management paid out £270 million to more than 150,000 customers.
- September 2013: Barclays paid out £100 million to 300,000 customers.
- August 2014: HSBC set aside nearly £218 million, though it would not say how many customers were affected.
- November 2014: Tesco Bank starts refunding 175,000 personal loan and credit card customers. It set aside a total of £43 million.