The Office of Fair Trade may be set to investigate home furniture store BrightHouse after complaints about the way people who get in debt are dealt with.
The company lets you buy household items such as washing machines and sofas to pay off weekly instead of in one go with a 29.9% APR charge excluding extras such as optical service cover.
However, lately the behaviour of staff at the stores has been called into question after several complaints of bullying customers who miss repayments.
One customer has several items from the store and had been happy with the company for 6 years, until she missed two repayments recently due to being in hospital for a severe epileptic seizure.
She usually makes her £14.32 repayment every Tuesday, but was forced to miss two payments while in hospital. After she got out of hospital she received a call from the company telling her to pay immediately or a driver would be at her house within the hour to collect the goods.
Another customer tells a similar story, after realising she would not be able to make her weekly repayment, she called BrightHouse a day before it was due. The next day she received a call asking her to borrow the money from friends of family to pay her fee, and continued to ring her all day.
Later that day an employee of the company came to collect her goods, ringing the doorbell continuously until she answered: “As soon as I opened it, he put his foot in. He said ‘I’ve come to collect the goods. Let me in’.”
After refusing and threatening to call the police he answered: “If you don’t let me in, there will be more people coming here. We will go upstairs, and we will get the goods.”
The Truth About Repossession:
According to the law, if you hire purchase an item, you don’t officially own it until the final payment is made. If you do stop repaying, the company does have the right to repossess the goods, but there are rules about how they can do that.
They cannot enter your house without a court order, and yet a former employee of BrightHouse says that’s exactly what he used to do, lying around the truth in order to gain access and gain the goods.
BrightHouse deny that they do this however. Their commercial director refused to talk about individual customers, but said that 96% of customers are happy with the service they provide. He added that repossession is a last resort.
He said: “We would only ever take the goods with the consent of the customer.
“If there is any instance where our guidelines are not being followed up properly, we would hold our hands up and apologise.
“At the centre of everything we do at BrightHouse is the fair treatment of customers.
“We’re very keen to listen, and to understand where we’re not offering a good a service as we might, and we’re very keen to put that right.”
What Do You Think?
Leave your comments here.