Credit card companies fail Which? test for advice to consumers

Credit card companies regularly give consumers false or misleading information when they call to make a claim under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, according to new research from Which?.

It found that 71 out of 120 calls to credit card companies failed to give researchers useful and correct advice about making a claim.

Mystery shoppers called the 12 biggest credit card providers to ask on behalf of a friend about making a claim for goods bought or ordered using a credit card. Only 10 out of the 120 advisers mentioned section 75 or the Consumer Credit Act by name. The section 75 rule means that customers who have a claim against a supplier for breach of contract or misrepresentation will generally have an equal claim against the card issuer.

Lloyds TSB told the caller to contact the Ministry of Justice. NatWest suggested pursuing the claim for a sofa through Atol, the travel protection scheme. Although there is no time limit to putting in a section 75 claim, many advisers cited the Visa chargeback limit of 120 days.

Tesco and Nationwide were the worst offenders: not one call to them passed the Which? test. Researchers found HSBC staff particularly unhelpful. MBNA was the least worst, passing the test in seven out of 10 calls.

"This situation is unacceptable. Companies must accept that advice really matters, and it shouldn't be up to the consumer to remind them of their rights," said Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith.