A dad racked up thousands of pounds worth of debt by a payday loans company which he says “played on people’s misery”.
George Lea, 76, and his wife Linda, 71, from Tuebrook, took out a number of loans from doorstep lender Provident over the years to help them pay for food shopping, Christmas and birthdays. George said the loans were a “quick fix” at the time but with sky-high interest rates they soon spiraled into debt.
Provident, was part of a company called PFG, which previously provided short-term, guarantor and doorstep loans with interest rates as high as 1,557.7% APR- but after being hit hard by mis-selling claims the company permanently closed on December 31 last year .
George and Linda are among the Provident customers who have recently been offered compensation for loans they were mis-sold by the company – but only for less than 10% of what they’re owed. It comes following a court ruling in August last year, which granted the doorstep lender permission to cap redress payments for mis-sold loans at just 4p to 6p per £ 1 owed for the fees and interest they were charged.
In George and Linda’s case, this means they have been offered up to £ 4.50 in compensation – a figure which George says wouldn’t even cover the cost of buying each of his seven grandchildren a bar of chocolate.
George told the ECHO: “They played on people’s misery. Even if you just needed to get the shopping in for that week, that’s how bad it was, we were skint.
“It was Christmas most of the time or maybe a birthday we couldn’t afford it so we just got a quick fix which helped at the time, it did the job but when came to pay it every week and you’re still struggling. “
George said each week an agent from Provident would come to their house in Tuebrook to collect the money they owed and each time they would ask if the couple wanted to take another loan out. He said: “[The agents said] ‘listen if you can’t afford this why don’t you take another one out? Pay that one off and then you’ve got a few pounds for you to spend. ‘
“When you’re down and when you’re destitute you do things like this, you’re desperate. We always fell for it. If you get a loan you’ve got to pay it back. It was desperate times and they knew it.
“If you borrowed £ 200 right away it goes to £ 400. It just kept going up and in the end I said ‘we’ve got to put a stop to this.'”
After paying off all of the interest they owed on the loans and declining to borrow any more money, George said they weren’t expecting to hear from Provident again until they recently received a letter about the compensation.
He said: “They got in touch with us – they sent us a letter saying you’ve got compensation coming to you and they [had] shut down. We thought ‘we’re going to get a few bob because we gave them loads in interest and that’s what they offered us: £ 3- £ 4.50.
“It was a disgrace. I couldn’t even buy a bar of chocolate for my grandkids, I said to the fella ‘keep hold of it’.”
George and Linda are in the process of appealing the amount of compensation they’ve been offered and it is now being reviewed by an independent adjudicator. To be eligible for a refund you must have taken out a loan that was unaffordable between April 2007 and December 17 2020 from Provident or its sub-brands Satsuma, Glo and Greenwood.
Provident closed its claims portal in February 2022. This was for customers who believe they were mis-sold a loan before December 18, 2020. People who believe they were mis-sold a loan on or after December 18, 2020, can still submit a complaint to Provident through its complaints helpline or through a complaints form on their website.
The ECHO has approached Provident for comment.