David setup iSmart Consumer Solutions from a bedroom in January 2007. The company received 50 customer enquiries on its first day of trading. Today, iSmart employs around 220 staff, in an office much bigger than a bedroom, and David estimates that his company has helped around 120,000 customers recoup up to £70million from their banks so far. He estimates that this could reach £200m over the next few years.
It’s an issue that David feels very strongly about, as his company started from his own battle with the banks when he was a student at University: “The banks have driven consumers to the point where they have just binged on credit for ten years, and that’s what’s caused this massive debt problem we have now.
“Through sheer greed and the publics attitude towards credit, the banks have pushed it all into a place where it’s going to take a very long time to unwind itself. You’re not a customer to a bank anymore, you’re more of a slave.”
“Even people who were prudent are paying back these mistakes through higher taxes from bank bailouts”
“What we’re doing is quickly forcing the issue where, instead of the customer having to pay off their debts slowly, it’s the bank that’s paying,” he says. “They’re paying off some of the debts with the refunds that we’re helping our clients win back from them.
“The customer is king, and we need to fight this on their behalf – they don’t know about the amounts of money that the banks might owe them’ One of our customers received £22000 from Barclaycard for mis-sold PPI claim. “
The most common issue that iSmart deals with is payment protection insurance (PPI) policies on bank loans, credit cards, and other types of finance offered by banks. The policy is designed to cover your monthly payments should you be unable to meet them, for example, if you are made redundant, or are involved in an accident and unable to work.
A lot of consumers will have been mis-sold these PPI policies, having been mis-led and pressured by banks to purchase them. David says: “If you take out a £5000 loan, the banks will say to you, ‘Well what are you going to do if you’re out of work?’ So they’ll tell you to take out PPI, and if you say you don’t want it, they’ll tell you that it might affect your application if you don’t. So the policies were just forced on people.
PPI policies can prove to be very expensive, with most policies costing around 25 per cent of the original borrowed amount, plus interest was charged on top. By pursuing a mis-sold PPI case against the banks, an average customer can expect to claim back up to £3000.
David estimates that iSmart currently receives several thousand enquiries relating to PPI claims every week, and he expects that figure to increase even further in 2011. He says: “As people claim their money back, they’ll tell their family and friends about it, who will then pursue their own claims, and it will just perpetuate from there.”
When it comes to laying responsibility for UK consumers’ debt problems, David knows exactly who is, in his mind, at fault. “They [head of banks] are paying out several billion pounds worth of bonuses to bankers, which would clear all the debts of the clients who they’ve ripped off. Those bonuses would cover all of their current liabilities. The cash machine cannot stop.
“They’ve now gone to court over the PPI claims, to try and slow the process down, so they can limit their liabilities and pay their executives masses and masses of money.”
There was a time when you needed to wear a smart suit and polish your shoes to visit the bank manager for a mortgage. Dealing with a bank now, you still need to wear a suit, a suit of armour.
That’s where iSmart comes in – helping people overcome the fear of complaining to their bank or credit card providers.
Bio: iSmart Consumer Solutions is a leading expert in helping consumers to obtain compensation for mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) and unfair credit card charges, as well as offering debt management solutions. Regulated by the Ministry of Justice, iSmart has managed over £57m in customer refunds since its launch in 2007. They also cover IVAs & Debt Management with their http://www.debt-