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Are you entitled to any refunds?

Posted 04 July 2016

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With recent reports on Argos overcharging some store cardholders for late payment fees - find out what you could claim.

If you‘ve been charged late fees on your store card with Argos, you might be due money back. Argos, owned by Home Retail Group, have set aside up to £30 million to refund store cardholders who have been overcharged.  It comes after the retailer reported errors in the calculation of some store cardholders’ late payment fees.

If you’re not sure what store cards are or how they work, don’t worry – we’ll take you through it.

What's a store card?

Store cards are a type of credit card that can only be used for purchases in a specific high street store or retail group. They are often advertised in store and usually offer discounts and offers such as 10% off your purchases. 

As with credit cards, store cards let you purchase now but pay later. If you don’t pay off at least your specified minimum payment each month, you’ll have a late payment charge to pay on top of the interest due. Store cards often charge higher interest rates than many credit cards so they can be an expensive way to borrow.  

For information on store cards and how to avoid excess charges and interest, see our blog on struggling with store card debt.

If you have had an Argos store card and have been charged a fee for a late payment, you may be due a refund. 

How do I know if I’m due a refund?

At this stage, Home Retail Group is currently investigating which customers have been overcharged and will write to those customers affected.

Have you checked whether you’re entitled to any other refunds?

Payment Protection Insurance (PPI)

You’ll have probably heard about Payment Protection Insurance, most commonly referred to as PPI. If you think you may have been mis-sold PPI and haven’t already claimed this, now is the time to look into a possible refund.

PPI is an optional insurance policy that was often sold with personal loans, credit cards, mortgages, store cards, catalogues and on car finance. It’s an insurance designed to help you with your repayments if you are unable to work due to an accident, sickness or involuntary redundancy.

But there have been many cases where this insurance has been mis-sold. Banks and lenders have set aside billions of pounds in compensation. 

Take a look at our blog on claiming mis-sold PPI – here you can find more information about how PPI was unfairly sold and how to claim a refund.

Packaged Bank Accounts 

Put simply, a packaged bank account is a current account that offers added benefits for a monthly fee. These benefits can include travel insurance, mobile phone insurance, breakdown cover or better interest rates on loans. 

In some cases, these accounts were mis-sold to customers where the bank didn’t check customers’ suitability for the benefits – for example, if an added-extra included car breakdown cover, but the customer didn’t drive.

So if you’ve had or currently have a bank account that costs a monthly fee in return for add-ons and feel that it was mis-sold, you may be entitled to a refund. There’s a few points you’ll need to consider if you want to look into claiming a refund. You should think about how the account was sold to you and why you think the sale was unfair.  

Here are some common examples of how this type of account may have been mis-sold.

• You didn’t know you had a packaged back account.

• The bank failed to assess your suitability for the benefits.  

• You weren’t given the option to take out a free account. 

• You weren’t advised about the monthly fee.

• You weren’t made aware that you may need to register the benefits, such as the mobile phone insurance. 

• You were advised that by having this type of account, you would more likely be accepted for other products.

• You felt pressured to take this type of account out.

Note that Packaged Bank Accounts are not the same as Managed or Budgeting accounts, where the monthly fee doesn’t cover extra add on products, but pays for the day to day running of the account.

If you feel that your account was mis-sold, you can look to claim a refund. However, submitting a complaint doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get a refund. The bank may be able to show that the account was sold fairly. The Financial Ombudsman Service’s website and MoneySavingExpert both offer advice on how the Packaged Bank Accounts could be mis-sold and how to submit a complaint. 

by Christine Walsh

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.