‘I saved shopper from PPI vultures’

There’s a shopping centre I walk through most days. It’s seen better days, but it still draws in a crowd. It’s busy enough for people to set up stands there: gold-buyers, pay-TV sellers, charities, and, inevitably, PPI reclaimers.

You may well know it can be reclaimed for free, and so do I. But millions still don’t know that they don’t need a company’s help to reclaim hundreds or thousands of pounds from mis-sold payment protection insurance.

A few months back, a stall appeared in the shopping centre, staffed by a bored-looked chap who spent most of his time fiddling with his phone (hopefully not sending spam texts). It didn’t last long.

But in recent weeks, another stall’s appeared. And these PPI guys really mean business. They know who they’re targeting, too. Sat midway between two pound stores, they approach shoppers coming out of both of them – even though this is banned by the Ministry of Justice, which has outlawed "clipboarding".

"BEAT THE DEADLINE", their stall screams – even though there’s no deadline to beat.

I’ve tried to listen in on their patter. But I usually end up intervening, fearing someone’s at risk of needlessly parting with hundreds of pounds.

A look at the company’s website confirms it takes 25% of any successful claim – when you add VAT, that’s 30% of your cash thrown away, which is hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

One time, I ambled through the centre to see they’d buttonholed a woman. I approached them, explained she didn’t have to use their services, and walked away.

I came back half an hour later, and they were still talking to her. I walked over again, and the woman used the distraction to escape.

I caught up with her and told her she could find advice on reclaiming for free here. "Thank you – my daughter’s always on at me about that," she told me.

I’ve done it a couple of other times, and both times the PPI firms’ targets have seemed genuinely grateful to discover they can do it for free.

The salesmen themselves haven’t been as impressed. "What about my business?," one complained to me, before threatening to find a security guard. Cue the world’s smallest violin.

It’s very easy for us – especially for us who deal with these topics day in, day out – to assume everybody knows about the PPI issue, and how they can claim for free.

Stands like the one in the shopping centre – which, presumably, the property giant which owns the mall is getting a nice bit of rent from – are a reminder that many don’t know, and there’s an industry waiting to profit on the back of something which should never have happened in the first place.

And until regulations are tightened, unwary customers ambling out of the pound shops will continue to be easy prey for claims firms.

Have you had experiences of people pushing claims companies in shopping centres? Share them below, or in the forum thread.