Money News: L&G customers to be set time limit for mis-selling claims

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The Independent Online

Legal & General is to enforce time limits on customers who want to make complaints about endowment mis-selling.

Until last week, it had been one of the few insurers, including Prudential and Nationwide building society, not to impose "time bars". But now the company wants to "draw a line under mis-selling claims".

Over the next 12 months, L&G will write to all its 630,000 endowment customers to inform them of the change.

Under time-barring rules, any endowment holder has three years from receipt of their first "red" warning letter - that a policy runs a high risk of not paying out the target sum at the end of the term - to lodge a complaint with the provider.

So any L&G endowment customers sent a first red letter within the past two years or so - and who feel there's a case of mis-selling - will still have the remainder of their three years in which to make a complaint.

But those who received their first red letter over three years ago, and are yet to complain, will have only another six months.

"This latest decision will leave thousands of policyholders unable to pay off their mortgage fully when their policy matures," says Tim Moore from EndowmentClaims.com, a claims-handling company. "They should act immediately."

Faulty goods: Credit card protection extended outside UK

Shoppers who buy faulty goods overseas with their credit cards will now be given the same protection they receive in the UK.

At the moment, under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, card firms must pick up the bill for unsatisfactory goods bought here (if they are faulty, say, and the money can't be refunded) costing between £100 and £30,000.

However, most lenders have argued that the guarantee doesn't extend outside the UK, and only a few have considered claims as a gesture of goodwill.

But last Wednesday, the Court of Appeal backed the stance taken by the Office of Fair Trading, which had challenged an earlier verdict in favour of the banks, and ruled that foreign credit card transactions are also covered by the Consumer Credit Act.

The move was welcomed by Which?. The consumer body called it a "landmark decision" that gave consumers much fuller protection.

Some lenders now fear that they will, in effect, become "insurers" to faulty goods, and exposed to expensive claims without being able to assess the full facts. An appeal against the ruling is being considered.

Home phones: BT unchained but call costs to keep falling

Consumers look set to benefit from a home-phone landline price war if new plans to allow BT to set its own charges get the go-ahead.

Subject to a consultation, watchdog Ofcom will stop regulating BT's domestic prices from 1 August this year.

The decision to remove the price controls - 22 years after they were first imposed - has been sparked by a 50 per cent drop in landline prices since 1996. It is also a response to the new technology and intensifying competition that have helped slash prices at rival services.

"It is now appropriate to consider allowing existing retail price controls to lapse, as increasingly effective competition between providers continues to drive down costs," said an Ofcom spokesman.

While BT is free to put prices up for consumers, the competitive market is expected to maintain downward pressure on its call and line-rental prices.

But vulnerable groups, including the elderly and those in remote areas without rival services to choose from, would continue to be protected for another year, the OFT spokesman added.

Over 10 million households now use providers other than BT for their phone calls, including more than four million using cable networks or new technology such as internet phone calls.

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