In 2015, Steve borrowed over $40,000 from a car finance company, secured against his vehicle. He was in arrears for most of the life of the loan. Steve and the company entered into a number of payment arrangements, and there were many phone calls and emails between them.
Steve’s financial position worsened, culminating in him making a complaint to FSCL about his dealings with the company. Before FSCL could complete its investigation, Steve’s car was written off in an accident. Steve made an insurance claim, and the insurer paid the balance of Steve’s debt to the car finance company in full. That resolved most of the issues Steve had complained to FSCL about, but he still wanted FSCL to investigate his complaints about the company’s service.
Steve had a number of complaints about the company’s service. However, the company said there was no validity to most of them. For example, Steve complained that the company had posted repossession warning notices rather than emailing them as he had requested. However, by law the company had to post or personally deliver repossession warning notices. Additionally, Steve had breached his credit contract by never updating his address, despite moving several times. Plus, Steve knew he was in arrears, and sometimes emails bounced back from his email address.
In the end, Steve’s complaints boiled down to two things. First, there was a delay before the company sent Steve information he needed in order to make a KiwiSaver withdrawal application. Second, there was a delay before the company responded to Steve’s complaint.
We agreed that the company could have been more timely in giving Steve information he required for his KiwiSaver application, and in reviewing his complaint.
However, looking at Steve’s complaint in the round, considering that he was in arrears for most of the life of the loan, and that the company had been generous in entering into numerous repayment arrangements, we did not consider there was any basis to require the company to pay compensation.
We did not uphold Steve’s complaint.
Insights for consumers
Even if a company’s service falls short, we need to look at the whole picture before deciding whether that warrants compensation. If the service shortcomings are minor in the overall scheme of things, we are unlikely to award compensation.