A father has racked up thousands of pounds in debt with a payday loan company which he says is ‘playing on people’s misery’.
George Lea, 76, and his wife Linda, 71, from Tuebrook, have taken out a number of loans from home loan provider Provident over the years to help pay for groceries, Christmas and birthdays. George said the loans were a “quick fix” at the time, but with sky-high interest rates they quickly got into debt.
Provident, was part of a company called PFG, which previously provided short-term, guarantor and home loans with interest rates up to 1,557.7% APR – but after being hit hard by sales claims abusive, the company definitively closed on December 31 of last year. .
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George and Linda are among Provident clients to whom the company recently offered compensation for loans they mis-sold, but only for less than 10% of what is owed to them. This follows a court ruling in August last year, which granted the home lender permission to cap repair payments for mis-sold loans at just 4p to 6p per £1 owed for fees and interest charged to them.
In George and Linda’s case, that means they were offered up to £4.50 in compensation – a figure which George says wouldn’t even cover the cost of buying a bar of chocolate for each of his seven grandchildren.
George told ECHO: “They played on people’s misery. Even if you just needed to get groceries for that week, that’s how serious it was, we were skinny.
“It was Christmas most of the time or maybe a birthday we couldn’t afford so we just had a quick fix which helped at the time it did the job but when it came to pay for it every week and you’re still struggling.”
George said that every week an agent from Provident came to their Tuebrook home to collect the money they owed and each time they asked if the couple wanted to take out another loan. He said: “[The agents said] ‘Listen if you can’t afford it, why don’t you get another? Pay that one and you’ll have a few pounds to spend.
“When you’re depressed and you’re destitute, you do things like that, you’re desperate. We always fell for it. If you get a loan, you have to pay it back. It was a desperate time and they knew this.
“If you borrow £200 straight away it goes to £400. It just kept going up and in the end I said ‘we have to put a stop to this’.”
After paying off all the interest they owed on the loans and refusing to borrow any more money, George said they didn’t expect to hear any further news from Provident until they recently received a letter regarding compensation.
He said: “They contacted us – they sent us a letter saying you were entitled to compensation and they [had] close. We thought we were going to have a few bobs because we had given them lots of interest and that’s what they offered us: £3 to £4.50.
“It was a shame. I couldn’t even buy a chocolate bar for my grandkids, I told the guy ‘keep it’.”
George and Linda are in the process of appealing the amount of compensation they have been offered and it is currently being reviewed by an independent arbitrator. To be eligible for a refund, you must have taken out an unaffordable loan between April 2007 and December 17, 2020 from Provident or its sub-brands Satsuma, Glo and Greenwood.
Provident closed its claims portal in February 2022. This was for customers who believe they were mis-sold of a loan before December 18, 2020. People who believe they were mis-sold of a loan on December 18, 2020 or after can always submit a complaint to Provident through their Complaints Hotline or through a complaints form on their website.
ECHO has contacted Provident for comments.