GRACE ON THE CASE: I am still waiting for £9k to be repaid by Funding Circle 1

GRACE ON THE CASE: I am still waiting for £9k to be repaid by Funding Circle

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In 2014 I invested £15,000 of my mother’s life savings in Funding Circle – the peer to peer lending company. I managed this in her name using my Power of Attorney and a separate email address.

She sadly died in April 2020, just as the pandemic was escalating. Because of market volatility, Funding Circle suspended loan sales meaning individual investors can only get their money out when borrowers repay loans.

In September 2020 I sent probate documents and details of the new bank account. I was promised regular updates and repayments but despite repeated promises, Funding Circle only release money when I chase.

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Currently there is still £9,000 invested and no end in sight for when it will all be repaid. What can I do? T.F., via email

A Funding Circle customer is waiting for their mother's funds to be repaid, a year after she died

A Funding Circle customer is waiting for their mother’s funds to be repaid, a year after she died

Grace Gausden, consumer expert at This is Money, replies: Firstly, I am sorry to hear of your mother’s passing and the stress you have endured, thanks to Funding Circle’s slow responses.

So far, you have received £6,000 back of the life savings you invested on behalf of your mother but are still waiting for the majority of the money back.

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You have continually chased the firm for updates for over a year.

Each time you have been given promises from various people but ultimately, you never receive any money until you chase them.

There were some extenuating circumstances with the pandemic halting loan sales for the company meaning it told investors it was waiting on borrowers to repay loans before it could dish out funds. 

However, the situation was going on for months with no real information on when you could expect to be completely paid back.

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GRACE ON THE CASE 

Our weekly column sees This is Money consumer expert Grace Gausden tackles reader problems and shines the light on companies doing both good and bad.

Want her to investigate a problem, or do you want to praise a firm for going that extra mile? Get in touch:

[email protected]

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Another issue came when Funding Circle sent several distressing emails addressed to your mother, alerting her to the changes.

This is despite the company knowing you had Power of Attorney and that she had passed.

In this instance, you complained and were told it would not happen again and thankfully you say it hasn’t.

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You also complained about the service you received, asking what thought was given to dealing with dead investors when the decision was taken to suspend loan sales. However, you received no answer.

Instead, you were advised there are over 800 accounts in the names of dead investors and Funding Circle continue to take their transaction fees.

Throughout this issue, you feel shabbily treated at a difficult time, receiving only broken promises from Funding Circle with no one taking responsibility for proactive updates.

While you say you’ve been offered £100 compensation, you are so angry you have refused.

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Funding Circle apologised for its errors and has since ensured the customer gets repayments

Funding Circle apologised for its errors and has since ensured the customer gets repayments

I contacted Funding Circle to find out why it was taking so long to pay back the invested funds and why it seemed unable to stick to its promises of giving you more information as and when needed.

A Funding Circle spokesperson said: ‘We spoke with Mr F to discuss his concerns and to reassure him we will continue to return the funds in his mothers account in a timely way.

‘We appreciate, and understand, that he should not have needed to contact us ahead of receiving the monthly repayments back to his chosen bank account and we have committed to ensuring this happens automatically going forward.

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‘Additionally, we have also apologised to him for any distress caused from receiving two emails sent to his mothers email address. This was caused by a human error which has now been fixed.

‘As part of our conversation with Mr F, we offered him compensation, however he has politely declined. He is now satisfied we’ve answered his questions.’

Fortunately, since we got involved you are now receiving monthly repayments to your account and so far, there has been no further issues.

You say the payments vary depending on how much is repaid by borrowers in any month.

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For example, in October, the amount was £879 but in November it was £387 and in December you received £402. It’s likely to take at least another year to receive all the money back – but at least you’re finally receiving payments once more.

You still won’t accept any compensation, which has now been upped to £200, as you are still angry at the treatment you received.  

How does Funding Circle work? 

At Funding Circle, investors lend to a portfolio of small businesses, typically in the hundreds. Each of these businesses borrows the funds for up to five years, but repays part of the loan with some interest each month.

When lending for individual investors was open, monthly repayments were then typically reinvested into new businesses. 

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Investors could choose to turn off automatic reinvestments, at this point the monthly repayments from borrowers accumulate in the account — typically at 3 to 5 per cent of the outstanding portfolio each month —a nd can be withdrawn by the account holder.

Previously investors could speed this process up by selling their loans to other investors. However, Funding Circle said it has always been clear this option is not guaranteed. 

In April 2020, it paused the option to sell loan parts, alongside all lending/reinvestment for individual investors, as it took part in the Government’s guarantee loan schemes. 

Scheme rules prevent individual investors from taking part, so allowing loans to be sold in isolation would not provide purchasing investors with a balanced portfolio. Borrower repayments have continued as normal, and Funding Circle says it will review lending for retail investors when Recovery Loan Scheme ends in June.

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An EDF customer has been hit with a high bill as the energy firm say she must pay it in one go

An EDF customer has been hit with a high bill as the energy firm say she must pay it in one go

Hit and miss: This week’s naughty and nice list

Each week, I look at some of the companies that have fallen short of expected standards as well as those that have gone that extra mile for customers.

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Miss: This week, reader Jess, criticised her energy supplier, EDF.

She said: ‘I receive monthly electricity bills which sit around £60 a month. However, I received a bill last month claiming I need to pay £662 as EDF has undercharged me since last October.

‘It is demanding I pay the amount in full but how can this be correct procedure? Surely it is their responsibility to ensure the correct amount is being charged?

‘I offered to provide the meter reading but it said it won’t accept it and are estimating that I owe an extra £55 a month which would make my electricity bill over £100 a month when I live in a studio apartment that is 300 square foot. What can I do?’

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It seemed unfair that even if you do owe EDF this money, it wouldn’t let you give another meter reading or pay the amount in smaller chunks in a payment plan – especially in a time when many are in financial difficulty and struggling to pay their bills.  

An EDF spokesperson said: ‘We accepted a meter reading from Jess in November 2021, which identified that her estimated bills were not covering her actual energy use.

‘We appreciate that getting a shock bill is never welcome and we’d be happy to discuss a repayment plan with her and also discuss whether she might benefit from a smart meter, which would automatically record her actual energy use.’

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Fortunately, since I got in touch and you have spoken to EDF it agreed to reduce the outstanding amount to £300 and you agreed to pay in full in January.

Luckily, you no longer have to spend more energy on sorting this out – but it is a reminder to take regular meter readings to ensure you don’t get a shock bill.  

Hit: In happier news, another reader named Jess praised Apple‘s service.

She said: ‘I purchased a lightening charger cable and plug directly from the Apple store in August and both stopped working.

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‘I contacted Apple on a Wednesday evening and the fantastic sales representative rang me back and arranged a replacement. They arrived this morning much to my surprise at this time of year.

‘Kudos to Apple and their customer service. A happy customer.’

Sounds like the good customer service has made the firm the apple of your eye.  

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