Congratulations to Caroline Jordan on her hard-hitting piece about the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI) (Comment, 17 November).
For years my firm has said the scandalous activities of High Street lenders must stop. Having conducted my own research, I am only too aware of how many consumers fall victim to blatant profiteering, price variations, inappropriate sales and poor advice.
I surveyed High Street lenders and those advertising in the national press, the internet and the telephone directory. Loan protection insurance prices per £100 of monthly cover ranged from £5.95 to £30 per month. I also studied the top-ten lenders to see how 'fair' their deals were. Consumers taking a £7,500 loan over five years could pay between £5.89 and £59.85 per month. How can a lender justify a whopping 10 times increase in premium?
And then there's poor advice. None of the lenders I surveyed bothered to check whether the applicants had pre-existing medical conditions that might invalidate their cover, and for the self-employed, many failed to draw attention to the fact that the cover only pays out when the self-employed cease trading.
The FSA's discoveries are therefore no surprise. I do hope Caroline's vision of the FSA waving a feather duster instead of wielding the cosh does not come true. Regulation of PPI and the FSA's Treating Customers Fairly initiative have a long way to go before the regulator can claim its regime is working in practice.
But it's not just the FSA that should bring those greedy PPI providers to their knees - the Citizens Advice Bureau recently lodged a 'super complaint' with the OFT, whose report is due in December. Having worked closely with Biba and the OFT, I am keen to hear how they will protect the interests of consumers.
Given the current climate, brokers are well placed to restore consumer confidence in PPI and take their long-overdue share of this market. We have the skills and expertise to ensure PPI is sold to the right people at the right price. Let's seize the moral high ground now.