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Problems with Student Loans Company

(19 Posts)
StrictlyMumDancing Tue 22-Mar-16 10:14:13

Not the slc, but honours student loans who have purchased two of my pre-1998 loans.

My loan has largely been in deferment due to not earning enough since I left uni, hence why its still not paid off, so as not to drip feed, although I have paid some of it when my income was high enough.

In the last 6 years I've changed bank account twice. Both times using the old DD change schemes with no problems except Honours Student Loans who did not acknowledge the changes.

I've had to make complaints both times to them as they've ignored this. I've also had to complain to them as even after I'd informed them of the changes, they failed to update their systems and also retained an old phone number for me. Rather than write to me (when payments were missed because the account didn't exist )via mail or email they decided to harangue my parents as they were guarantors.

Today they've sent me a letter asking me to confirm my DD details - its my bank account from over 6 years ago! They've also reverted me back to my maiden name and claim as they have changed their systems they don't have any evidence of these changes so tough shock. The slc, who I defer and update details through via the official forms have confirmed they have records and have passed them down - the other student loans co confirmed they have received them from slc. Both have my current address which was updated via deferment papers so obviously some info is sent over.

Who the hell do about this? I haven't changed any details for a few years yet they have changed my details randomly. Do I have to phone them every six months for a check? Or should I complain to someone? Them in writing then ombudsman maybe?

Lemond1fficult Tue 22-Mar-16 10:26:18

They sound incompetent - what a bore for you to sort out. I think you should send them a letter by recorded delivery, referencing what has happened and stating your up-to date details. Take a copy, and keep your proof of postage safe. That will cover you if they every try and take action against you - it's unlikely, but good to have some insurance.

And complain to the financial ombudsman. They still cover student loans, so incompetent admin is their purview. Yours may be just one of many complaints about that company.

cozietoesie Tue 22-Mar-16 10:39:07

And then to the Information Commissioner. smile

StrictlyMumDancing Tue 22-Mar-16 10:48:23

Thank you both. Would I have to make a formal complaint to them before trying the ombudsman?

Ooh, the information commissioner. Wasn't sure if this would come under their remit, but I suppose they are holding onto out of date information on me which they shouldn't be.

cozietoesie Tue 22-Mar-16 10:54:33

They are indeed. And it's causing some distress to the parties involved.

There is a general principle that you should exhaust all individual complaint procedures before heading to Ombudsmen etc. Don't give them any more time than their procedure allows for though.

Lemond1fficult Tue 22-Mar-16 11:26:33

No. And as you've found them repeatedly incompetent there's an argument that they should get an ombudsman complaint anyway, because you're probably not the only unlucky one.

cozietoesie Tue 22-Mar-16 11:33:49

I do hope you've kept copies of all the relevant correspondence with them. smile

StrictlyMumDancing Tue 22-Mar-16 11:48:36

Stupidly all my complaints were via telephone (because that's how they deal with things angry) and they seemingly resolved them. This time will be different though. SLC and the other company can confirm which changes came through on the relevent paperwork, so at least that exists in paper form albeit not in my hands.

If I could win the lottery I'd pay these loans off pdq and tell them to shove it. Though knowing them they'd probably take my money, not apply it to my account and claim they have no evidence of it!

cozietoesie Tue 22-Mar-16 11:54:02

Actually, I've just been having a quick look at the MSE and other consumer fora and HSL are well known there. Very well known. wink

In those circumstances, I'd, personally, be inclined to immediately seek the advice of the IC's Office on submitting a formal complaint to them. You'll almost certainly be told to go back to HSL and exhaust their complaints procedure first but Who Knows? smile Even if so, you would still have registered a problem with the ICO and could refer back to the original email.

As I mentioned, though, give HSL no leeway on timescales. People can be amazingly easy-going when it comes to such matters (and when the standard excuses are trotted out) and firms sometimes relax into that attitude. Have that formal complaint in the mail/email sent right away and note the official reply date.

It's a pity about the phone calls but never mind.

cozietoesie Tue 22-Mar-16 11:57:16

PS - if they have no official complaints procedure - you mentioned that they deal with things by phone - then be sure to tell the Ombudsman (or equivalent) that fact. Everything in writing or email from now on?

StrictlyMumDancing Tue 22-Mar-16 16:01:20

Definitely everything in writing now!

Written complaint emailed in now stating breach of data protection. Have told them I expect responses in writing and have given them a fairly standard 8 weeks to reply. Dawned on me when I went for a walk that I wasn't 100% sure that is my old bank account number and I have no paperwork any more to confirm it. So that may be someone else's bank account number, and someone else may have my current bank account number on their account. Either way its a massive eff up on their side.

I may have also got a little childish and submitted a subject access request for my personal details and their sources grin.

cozietoesie Tue 22-Mar-16 17:26:19

A subject access request is fine - although they may write back and tell you they have a fee and can they have that first. As far as I know - happy to be corrected on this - it's still a tenner maximum which considering the trouble they'll be put to is well worth it. (it may be free of course - many places are.)

Remember that they'll also have to give you written info - including all relevant emails - with any strictly relevant redaction and that they have a tight timeline on subject access requests. (Running from various points according to the nature of the information.)

One of the good things about requests is that they usually have the effect of having your case dealt with by someone who actually has the power to make changes. (Someone outwith the normal admin/management line.) Your own situation is likely to be fixed quite quickly therefore. ('Just do XXXXX and maybe that will keep her happy' wink) Your call on whether you pursue the more general issues to a full ICO complaint - although I would on general principle. This lot are likely going to fail somewhere along the line.

StrictlyMumDancing Tue 22-Mar-16 17:50:44

I'm happy to pay £10 to get hold of their 'source' information to be honest. That's going to tell me an awful lot about how much they are and aren't taking from the official papers you can update at the time of deferment. Though I'd be interested to see how many bank accounts and their source info too!

I remember how badly my old company reacted whenever they got a request too, was normally me it got passed to for compilation on on system and a colleague on the other system whilst the relevent managers ran about like headless chickens attempting to placate the aggrieved party. I never understood why they panicked the way they did, unless they were expecting to see an issue.

I've filled out the ICO complaint form, but have no backing up evidence so decided to write the complain to HSL first. I'll use that to append to the ICO complaint. It may be over the course of 6-7 years, but in that time I've rarely had more than one issue with any other company I've had to deal with so 4 is horrendous. Not knowing whether it really was my old account or someone else has thrown me a bit. Not sure what to worry more about either.

cozietoesie Tue 22-Mar-16 19:02:55

Well they've screwed up your case and their 'systems' clearly aren't functioning adequately - if at all. They'll muck up the Subject Access Request also, of that I have no doubt. And people are so loose in writing emails. It never seems to occur to them that those are part of a potential body of information. wink

The ICO actually have quite deliciously Draconian powers although they generally choose not to deploy them. You don't need to get into a bad argument with them though for that and other reasons. grin ( Hence the managerial faffing.)

StrictlyMumDancing Wed 23-Mar-16 17:49:25

Well there's been some good news. Someone a little more competent phoned me today - I say a little more because they've ignored my request to write to me rather than phone. They've confirmed they do have DD details for me (unlike I was told yesterday) and the account they're linked to, which is thankfully my current bank account. Whether they fixed this after I complained I don't know.

I've told them I still feel they've breached the data protection act several times with regards to my account, however I still need the information from the subject access request before I consider this matter closed. Largely because I need to know why they're taking some information from the official forms and ignoring others. I also asked them politely to lose my telephone numbers because I don't want them thinking they can get round complaints with a phone call.

Too busy a day to get onto the ICO though, but will try tomorrow.

cozietoesie Wed 23-Mar-16 17:56:23

Yep. They're looking to 'soothe' you individually. smile As we discussed more or less.

I'd be emailing them a 'confirmation' of your conversation this very evening with an appropriate request for response. wink

cozietoesie Wed 23-Mar-16 18:19:18

PS - and of course they would want to phone you. It provides the opportunity to get all down home and folksy with you - and it wasn't on the record! smile Count yourself lucky if you weren't given copious tales about their sick parrot or something.

StrictlyMumDancing Wed 23-Mar-16 18:29:57

Great idea - I have just emailed in confirmation of the phone call and my wish to continue with the Subject Access Request (and the wish to no longer be contacted by phone).

I suspect the sound of my DC's repetitive chorus of 'muuuuuuummmmmm' may have put them off any sick parrot stories grin

cozietoesie Wed 23-Mar-16 18:56:40

That's a shame. It might have been pleasing to put solicitations for the sick parrot in your confirmation. smile

I think, myself, that I would really want to see my records - all my records of course - with them because they sound like such a shower that I wouldn't have confidence that any financial transactions with them, including residual debt, had been correctly handled. It will be interesting to see what they come up with.

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