A mortgage advice firm has been told to compensate clients, despite producing documents that clearly state when and how much they expected to be paid.
Connells Limited has been told to pay a couple £250 because the pair were confused about when they would have to pay their broker – despite all the documents from the intermediary clearly stating how much they expected and at what point the amount would be taken.
The couple, referred to as Mr and Mrs K, decided to use Connells’ services when they were thinking about taking out a new mortgage in 2016.
The pair were told they would have to pay a lifetime broker fee which cost £499 to cover assistance with completing application forms for the mortgage and any ancillary products plus work associated with the mortgage advice.
There was also an administration fee of £99.
But Mr and Mrs K later complained they thought the fees were payable after completion of a mortgage.
Connells said it made it clear that fees would be payable as soon as it had arranged a mortgage application.
All documents stated fees were ‘payable on all cases on completion of your mortgage application’ and that these were non-refundable.
In a final decision, ombudsman Kevin Williamson partially upheld Mr and Mrs K’s complaint.
Mr Williamson said: “I think the paperwork was reasonably clear. But I also think that there was a misunderstanding between Mr and Mrs K and Connells about when the broker fees would be due.
“I say this because I can see from the email exchanges when the fees were charged to Mr and Mrs K’s account, after their first mortgage application had been made, that they expressed surprise.
“They told us that the charges had caused their account to go into an unauthorised overdraft. They made it clear to Connells’ adviser that they didn’t think they’d agreed to pay the fees at that stage.
“There seems to have been an acceptance by both sides that ‘wires had been crossed’.
“It wouldn’t be fair and reasonable for me to uphold Mr and Mrs K’s complaint in full.
“I say this because they had a responsibility to read what they were signing up to. I think the paperwork was reasonably clear.
“If the payment terms were at odds with what they were being led to believe during the meeting, then they should’ve clarified this at the time.”