by Percival Glyde
Several years ago, I bought a car on what I later discovered was an unfavourable leasing agreement. I’d normally have whined about this, but got on with the payments. Then I changed my bank, and forgot to carry over all my standing orders. The car finance company immediately registered that I was in default just as I was trying to arrange a new fix on my mortgage. I did call the finance company to explain, but found myself in an argument with a youngish Scotchman, who shouted me down, and gloated that my credit was ruined for life.
I got the new fix, but decided to punish the finance company. I wrote a five page letter of complaint on lined paper, and stuck these words in the last paragraph: “I therefore enclose a cheque for £500 in full and final settlement of all outstanding claims against me, encashment of my cheque to constitute unconditional acceptance of this offer.” Of course, cheque and letter were separated in some gigantic post room, and the cheque had been paid in ages before anyone got round to reading the letter.
After a few rounds of increasingly heated correspondence with robots and more calls from snarling Scotchmen, I changed strategy. Since the finance company was a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Scotland, I began writing to (Sir) Fred Goodwin, who was its Managing Director.
Oh joy – three letters to Fred, and thousands of pounds of debt had been wiped, and all the credit bureaus notified of the “mistake” that had been made about my creditworthiness. How can I possibly complain when his vast pension was got by equally dodgy means? Give the man a peerage, I say!
I suppose I contributed, in my own small way, to bringing down RBS. I”ve also been dithering, ever since winning that dispute, over whether I did anything unethical. But I made a contractual offer that involved some degree of early repayment of a loan, and this offer was accepted in the manner I had specified. It’s surely no concern of mine how the creditor arranged its internal affairs.
Any comments? In particular, any comments on the soundness of my law? Is this device really a get out of jail free card for every sort of debt? Or did I just get hold of Fred when he was too busy thinking about his pension to pay attention to what I was doing to his profit and loss account?