No payout for Halifax customers who failed to protest

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The Independent Online

Thousands of Halifax customers will be bitterly disappointed by compensation the bank announced yesterday aimed at satisfying customers who have not been moved to its most competitive lending rate.

More than 100,000 mortgage customers will receive no compensation, while 30,000 will get payouts averaging £500. Halifax is paying compensation after the Financial Ombudsman ruled against it last year over having two main lending rates.

The Wrights, a couple with a capped mortgage, complained that their loan had not been transferred to a cheaper rate introduced in March 2001. The ombudsman ruled that customers with capped or discount mortgages were entitled to believe their mortgage could be moved to the new, better deal.

Halifax refused to compensate automatically other customers in the same position as the Wrights. It has now caved in, saying about 10,000 customers who complained before the ombudsman's ruling will be moved to the new lending rate, nowat 5 per cent. They will also receive compensation for inconvenience, receiving on average £500.

A further 20,000 customers on the higher lending rate who complained last month will receive £100 compensation but will not be moved to the lower rate. But most Halifax customers with a capped or discount mortgage based on the old lending rate did not complain and will receive nothing.

Ray Boulger, of financial advisers Charcol, called the move bizarre. "Anybody who waited until the ombudsman's ruling would not have complained until February and they will only receive £100. And there will be many people who were still going to complain and had not got around to it yet," he said.

Nationwide, Abbey National and HSBC have been caught out by the ombudsman's decision. Nationwide last month became the only one of the lenders affected to say that it would move all relevant customers on to the better deal.

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