Firm seeks financial ‘mis-selling’ refunds

FOR the first time Irish consumers who believe they were victims of financial products mis-selling can take their case to a private company. was launched in Dublin yesterday to combat cases of mis-selling and to make it easier for people to fight for compensation where they were sold products that were not suited to their needs..

As a private service, the cost will be €242 per case.

Managing director John Prout is confident the business will take off.

“We believe that a huge number of Irish consumers have products that are not necessary or suitable for their needs and we know that we can secure refunds for them, which is our business,” he said.

On the basis of the research carried out “I think demand [for the service] will be massive”, he said.

In 2008, the Financial Services Ombudsman had 180,000 hits to its website and received 700,000 calls. More than 60% of claims made by the public were upheld.

Given the proven demand the Ombudsman has welcomed the setting up of, Mr Prout said.

Set up in 2005, the Ombudsman has awarded more than €45m to consumers giving an average award of just under €3,000 and the new company hopes to tap what it believes is a far bigger demand that the Ombudsman cannot serve due to lack of resources.

The company has been set up by four businessmen who are funding the service out of their own pockets.

They have based their model on Britain where 800 companies are involved.

Apart from Mr Prout, directors include Ronan Murphy, Con Lehane and Eddie Doyle. Mr Prout and Murphy are both from Cork.

Mr Prout said his involvement in the life assurance sector saw a serious amount of “misselling” during the boom.

Payment protection insurance is an area he says was seriously abused and the new company plans to tackle those issues across the sector in the years ahead.

A staff of about 15 will handle cases initially and the group has set up legal and financial back-up available that should deliver results.

In time the numbers employed are expected to rise.

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