A father has accumulated thousands of pounds’ worth of debt from a payday loan company, which he says has “played on people’s misery”.
George Lea, 76, and his wife Linda, 71, of Tuebrook, have taken out a number of loans from doorstep lender Provident over the years to help them pay for grocery shopping, Christmas and birthdays. George said the loans were a “quick fix” at the time, but with sky-high interest rates, they soon ran into debt.
Provident was part of a company called PFG that previously offered short-term, surety and door-to-door loans at interest rates up to 1,557.7% APR, but after being hit hard by abusive claims, the company shut down for good on December 31 of last year .
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George and Linda are among Provident’s clients who were recently offered compensation for loans the company missold them — but for less than 10% of their debt. This follows a court ruling in August last year that gave the doorstep lender permission to limit redress payments for mis-sold loans to just 4p to 6p per £1 owed for the fees and interest charged to them.
In the case of George and Linda, that means they have been offered compensation of up to £4.50 – a figure which George says would not even cover the cost of buying a bar of chocolate for each of his seven grandchildren .
George told ECHO: “You played on people’s misery. Even if you only had to do the shopping for this week, it was that bad, we were floored.
“Most of the time it was Christmas or maybe a birthday we couldn’t afford so we just found a quick fix that helped back then, it did the job but when it came to paying it every week, are you still having problems. “
George said each week a Provident agent would come to their home in Tuebrook to collect the money they owed, and each time they would ask if the couple wanted to take out another loan. He said: “[The agents said] “Listen, if you can’t afford this, why don’t you get another one out? Pay that off once and you’ll have a few pounds to spend.’
“When you’re down and 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. These were desperate times and they knew it.
“If you borrowed £200 straight away, it will be £400. It just kept going and at the end I was like, ‘We’ve got to put an end to this.’”
After paying back any interest owed on the loans and refusing to borrow any more money, George said they didn’t expect to hear from Provident again until they received a recent letter about compensation.
He said: “They got in touch with us – they sent us a letter saying you’re getting compensation and they [had] switch off. We thought, ‘We get a few shillings because we gave them a lot of interest and that’s what they offered us: £3 to £4.50.
“It was a shame. I couldn’t even buy a bar of chocolate for my grandkids, I said to the guy hold on to it.”
George and Linda are in the process of appealing the amount of compensation they have been offered, which is now being reviewed by an independent expert. To be eligible for a refund, you must have taken out a loan from Provident or its Satsuma, Glo, and Greenwood sub-brands between April 2007 and December 17, 2020 that was unpayable.
Provident closed its claims portal in February 2022. This applied to customers who believe they were mistakenly sold a loan prior to December 18, 2020. Individuals who believe that a loan was sold to them in error on or after December 18, 2020 can still file a complaint with Provident through its complaints hotline or through a complaints form on their website.
ECHO has reached out to Provident for comment.