Martin Lewis’s car finance complaint tool receives 262,500 inquiries in opening days

  • Martin Lewis says 262,500 emails sent after car finance complaint tool launched
  • The consumer champion says the numbers are ‘off the charts’ and rival closing days of PPI scandal
  • Bank of England exec warns crisis could have ‘significant financial ramifications’ for lenders

Time 8:05 am, February 9, 2024

A new tool set up to help consumers find out if they may have been mis-sold motor finance has received more than a quarter of a million emails in its first few days.

Car Dealer reported earlier this week that consumer champion Martin Lewis had launched the free reclaim tool and guide, following a show about the unfolding motor finance scandal, which was broadcast on Tuesday night.

Lewis says the service has now received an eye-watering 262,500 emails in its opening days, highlighting the vast scale of the unfolding crisis.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Lewis said: ‘Car finance reclaiming update. Staggeringly after just 1 full day of our free complaint tool being live… 262,500 complaint emails have been sent.’

Lewis added in a further post: ‘These numbers are off the charts – far bigger even than the closing days of the PPI (payment protection insurance) deadline.’

The free tool and guide are on the website, which was founded by Lewis in 2003.

It comes after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) launched an investigation into whether people could be owed compensation for being charged too much for car loans, following a high number of complaints.

The inquiry, which is expected to last until September, centres around now-banned ‘discretionary commission arrangements’, which allowed brokers and car dealers to make up interest rates to increase their commission.

The practice was outlawed in 2021 but tens of thousands of people could now be due compensation after overpaying.

Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain yesterday (Feb 8), Lewis said he had been working on his guide since the FCA launched its investigation last month.

He told the programme: ‘We launched the guide and a free tool that does the template and sends the whole complaint, does it all for you at no cost, on Tuesday night at 7.30, so we have had one full day of it.

‘I’ve never seen anything like it. Even the final days of PPI weren’t like this.’

Addressing viewers, he added: ‘If you had a car, a van, a motorbike, a campervan on finance before January 28, 2021, you may have been mis-sold and you will not know now.

‘Even when I’ve told you if you are in that category, all that tells you is could you have been mis-sold.

‘So part of the complaint process and what the template letter does is, the first one is to say: “Tell me. Did you have a discretionary commission arrangement in place on my finance”?’

Car Dealer reported on January 18 that banks that lent money via motor finance could face total bill of £10bn.

On a recent episode of the Car Dealer Podcast, Motor Connect director Steve Corwood warned that the investigation could be the ‘next big PPI scandal’.

The FCA is using powers under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 to review historical motor finance commission arrangements and sales.

Sheldon Mills, executive director of consumers and competition at the FCA, said last month: ‘We are taking a closer look at historical discretionary commission arrangements in the motor finance market following a high number of complaints from customers, which are being rejected by firms.

‘If we find widespread misconduct, we will act to make sure people are compensated in an orderly, consistent and efficient way.’

Scandal could have ‘significant financial ramifications’

As the inquiry continues to go on behind closed doors, there are mounting fears among lenders that they could soon be slapped with huge bills and fines.

The scandal has got so big that even top officials at the Bank of England are now getting involved.

Sam Woods, a deputy governor at the central bank, said the situation could end up having ‘significant financial ramifications’ for lenders.

The Times reports that its analysts are already working to assess the possible impact of the scandal on the motor finance industry.

The likes of Barclays, Black Horse and Santander are among those that could face the heaviest penalties if the investigation uncovers evidence of ‘widespread misconduct’.

Speaking at the Commons’ Treasury committee, Woods told MPs that ‘the range of outcomes seems quite wide’.

He added: ‘I’m not concerned at this point that this is a financial stability issue, but it clearly does have the potential to become a quite significant conduct issue with potentially quite significant financial ramifications.

‘The devil on this one is in the detail. There are so many different commission structures, and quite where any type of conduct fine or redress bill might land will probably be quite specific from one to another.’

Dealers who are concerned about how the unfolding investigation could affect them can view Lawgistics’ handy online guide to the scandal.

You can watch Lewis’s full ITV show here.

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

More stories...

Motors Advert
Server 108