Ruling sees Quinn Direct escape having to refund fee to customers

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Ruling sees Quinn Direct escape having to refund fee to customers

Friday October 05 2007 Irish Independent


INSURANCE company Quinn Direct will not have to pay back a €25 charge it imposed on customers who transferred their motor insurance from one vehicle to another over the past six years, after a High Court ruling yesterday.

The case arose after a customer who was charged the fee complained to the Financial Services Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman upheld the complaint in April this year, and Quinn Direct agreed to refund the man €50.
However, the insurance company challenged a direction from the Ombudsman that it should refund all other customers who had been charged the fee in the previous six years.
Complaints
Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan yesterday ruled that Ombudsman Joe Meade had no power to issue such a general direction, in circumstances where only one customer had formally complained.
She found the Ombudsman's power was confined, in this particular case, to directing Quinn Direct to refund only the particular customer who had complained that he had been charged the €25 administrative charge without any notification in policy documents that such a charge would be applied.
However, the judge stressed that, in other cases, it was open to a group of customers to make complaints on such issues.
If those complaints were upheld by the Ombudsman, then it was open to him to make a direction relating to all those who made the complaint, she said.
She also noted that the Ombudsman has powers to issue a direction to a financial service provider requiring it to change a practice in the future, in a way which she said, would normally affect multiple consumers.
Mr Meade said he welcomed the fact that the High Court had interpreted this legislation.
He said he would be considering the judgment and meeting with legal advisers in order to decide whether to appeal to the Supreme Court, to seek a change in the legislation, or to accept the judgment.
Decision
In a statement, Quinn Direct said it welcomed the decision of the court.
A spokesperson said Quinn Direct had always disclosed the charges, if any, that customers had to pay for changes to their policies.
He added that there was never any question of hidden charges.
Quinn Direct has around 400,000 motor policy holders in this country.
http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/ruling-sees-quinn-direct-escape-having-to-refund-fee-to-customers-1116270.html

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I read with interest the above Irish Independent report on Quinn Direct's success in it's High Court challenge over a ruling by the Financial Services Ombudsman against the insurer for levying an unauthorised fee on a complainant.

The aggressive attitude by the company towards its customers is obviously evidenced by their challenge to the High Court. I would respectly suggest that customers who feel they may have been overcharged by the company follow Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan advice that they should submit individual complaints to the Ombudsman's office and then receive the necessary award (apparently double the fee!).
http://www.financialombudsman.ie/case-studies/high-court-judgement-quinn-direct.pdf

Isn't it time we stopped the rip-off of 'Joe Public' by banks and insurers who continue to grow despite the supposed downturn in the economy. Quinn Direct customers stand up and be counted- stop the overcharging!


Financial Services Ombudsman
http://www.financialombudsman.ie/
 
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