Service issues

In October 2004, I met with a lovely couple who were attempting to move up the property ladder, but unfortunately the sale of their current property had just fallen through. Desperate not to lose their new home, they came to me for advice. I proceeded to put the new property on a buy-to-let with Mortgage Express (MEX) with no ties, which they let out until they found a buyer for their old home. A sale was agreed in May 2005, and I proceeded to remortgage the buy-to-let with First Active so they could move into the property in September. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it?

Unfortunately in October, my clients received a letter informing them that, due to a MEX system error, they had been given an incorrect redemption figure and that £1693.42 was still outstanding. After my clients queried how such an error could occur, MEX admitted fault and reduced the amount to £840. The clients were obviously somewhat disappointed with the outcome, but it was agreed they could pay back the amount in monthly sums of £100. On 16 December, my clients gleefully received a letter, which stated: ‘I am able to accept your proposal to repay the reduced shortfall of £100.’ Naturally the client immediately wrote back to MEX and enclosed the cheque for £100. This was then returned to the clients on 4 January with another letter stating that it couldn’t find the account. My clients immediately phoned MEX and paid the £100 by Switch, thinking that finally the whole matter had been sorted. Not likely.

On 11 January, they received another letter stating that the letter of 16 December was another mistake and that they meant to say that they confirmed a balance of £840 was outstanding, and that it could be paid by monthly instalments of £100. In February, my clients made a further payment using Switch, and then, using the account details provided by MEX itself, set up a standing order for £106 each month to cover the remaining payments.

Low and behold, MEX strikes again. This time with two letters, dated 6 April, from its recovery department, the first being a payment reminder, the second stating that the case was being passed to its solicitors (not really a lot of notice). When that department was pressed as to why the second letter had been issued so quickly, it became apparent it was another error and they had no record of the letter going out. The payments had definitely left my client’s account, but it appears MEX have two accounts, and had been looking at the wrong one.

My clients wrote to MEX to complain of the treatment they had received on 9 April only to receive a mortgage statement summary outlining an outstanding balance of £1596.34. This not only missed all of the standing order payments, and one of the Switch transactions, but also detailed arrears charges, which included, in particular, one from October 2004, prior to MEX even admitting the mistake. Having contacted it again, it soon became apparent MEX had no idea what was being paid, when it was being paid, and why it was being paid at all. After many phone calls, the problems were finally ironed out and MEX managed to trace the agreed reduction in amount and all the so-called ‘missing payments’. The clients were even informed they were not the only people experiencing similar difficulties, and many accounts were encountering problems, and that they should put their complaint in writing. Needless to say my clients did, and, surprisingly enough, to date they have heard nothing.

I apologise for the length of this letter but I really have paraphrased. Brokers of the world be warned.

Matt Harris

Simplicity Financial Solutions

A Mortgage Express spokesperson responded: “MEX takes customer service seriously, and as such apologises for any stress caused to the customer during this process. When the problem was first brought to our attention, we immediately reviewed our files and amended the error. We communicated this via phone and letter to the customer, and the situation is now resolved.”