The behemoth payday loan company, Wonga, went into administration in August, marking the end of the road for the largest payday loan lender in the UK.
This was largely as a result of a deluge of compensation claims the business received regarding loans being sold irresponsibly, as well as payday loan caps that were implemented in 2014, introduced by the Financial Conduct Authority, that saw all interest and fees capped at 0.8% a day on all high-cost short-term credit loans.
However, there are now concerns that are being raised that claimants with compensation claims outstanding with the lender could end up losing money that they are entitled.
These fears have been voiced after a letter in October from the accounting firm, Grant Thornton, which is overseeing the administration process, told creditors that an automated ‘adjudication tool’ may be used.
This automated, computer based tool is being created to cut down on manual processing costs, and to deal with the huge influx of compensation claims Wonga has received. The accounting firm is legally obliged to assess every single one of the claims. With the letter revealing that since Wonga had collapsed, it had been receiving an estimated 200 to 500 compensation claims each and every day.
This is not including the 24,000 customers complaints that were outstanding prior to the payday lender going into administration, nor the 9,500 complaints which had been escalated to the financial body, the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Taking this all into account, why is the automated system attracting criticism? There are fears that the software may not end up fully processing individual factors and circumstances when deciding to give compensation or not. The head of policy at financial campaign group positive Money, David Clarke, spoke in further detail about this matter to The Guardian:
“After having been mis-sold loans by automated software, Wonga customers may now be forced to appeal to a similar automated system,”
“Just as Wonga’s algorithms failed to account for individual circumstances when making loans in the first place, there are risks that this technology will again fail to take all the relevant factors into account when processing claims, leaving many customers out of pocket.”
In addition to this, Grant Thornton revealed in the same letter that until Wonga’s assets have been sold, it still remains unclear how much compensation will be available for claimants, nor a timeframe in which this money would be provided to customers.
To find trustworthy payday loans companies, consumers are encouraged by the FCA to use price comparison websites, following a recent rule that states every lender should be placed on at least one comparison table. In addition, high cost lenders are moving away from a 30 day product to offer alternatives and longer-term products repaid over 3 to 24 months.