You do not need to use a Claims Management Company. You can make the claim directly to the lender and if they reject your complaint you can take it to the Financial Ombudsman Service free of charge, but you must do this within 6 months of the lenders Final Decision Letter.
Lending Stream are part of GAIN Credit LLC, which is a subsidiary of GAIN Credit, Inc. They are a direct lender (so not a broker) and have been offering short term loans online since 2008
Lending Stream describe themselves as operating as a “viable alternative to Payday Loans”, as rather than having only a month to repay the loan, they offer repayment terms of 6 to 12 months on loans up to £1500 (up to £800 if you are a new customer, and up to £1500 as a returning customer).
They also further encourage those seeking emergency cash by pointing out that applying for an up to 12-month loan is all done online, and approval is “really fast”; not only that, once approved, Lending Stream say that they use “Express Cash Transfer” to send the cash to your bank (which can send in under 90 seconds).
Most of us now know that short term loans, such as Payday Loans, and those offered by Lending Stream (they like to call them instalment or quick loans) are higher in cost than other types of loan, as they are unsecured, with no guarantor etc. Lending Stream advertise a Representative APR of 1333%, an annual rate of 292.0%, and a daily rate of 0.8%. So, to borrow £300 over 6 months, you would end up repaying £571.63, so nearly double the original loan.
Lending Stream have a very slick, very informative website; like most lenders, whether Payday Loan or Guarantor lenders etc., they stress several times how easy it is to apply for a loan, how simple it is to get almost instant cash into your bank account. Anyone who is struggling with the cost of living going up almost daily, who is finding it hard to make ends meet with perhaps a loss of employment or reduced hours, or even someone whose boiler has broken down and needs replacing before the winter comes, will definitely be swayed by the language used to encourage applications. Indeed, Lending Stream even state, “It usually only takes 5 minutes or so” (with the caveat that application times may vary). Who, if desperate for extra cash, wouldn’t grab their phone and fill in the form, perhaps not being entirely, 100% accurate in their haste to get that approval?! If it can be all done and dusted in a coffee break, the company must be really friendly, and really efficient, surely?
Lending Stream equally pepper their website with warnings about the loans they offer, how borrowing of this type (short term loans) is expensive, not appropriate for longer-term borrowing etc., etc. They have to do this, as “lending responsibly” is such a key factor nowadays when borrowers get into trouble/further debt when unable to repay these high-cost loans. Stating this on a website of course, is easy to do! In practice though, what actually happens? Having a brief look at the poor reviews on review websites will provide an answer to that – namely that they will and do lend when the most basic of checks would indicate that they shouldn’t.
Lending Stream use highly emotive language (i.e., certain words choices are made to evoke an emotional response in the reader) to make the potential borrower feel safe and protected from being granted a loan that they cannot afford. A good example of this is, “We use the power of our advanced analytics when making all approval decisions, to ensure we lend responsibly”.
The words “power”, “advanced” and “ensure” are designed to put the no doubt nervous applicant at their ease and go ahead with something that may well put them into more hot water financially.
As far as “lending responsibly” goes, it is evident from the many affordability complaints made about Lending Stream, this is far from the actual truth.
Many borrowers believe that just because they managed to repay the loan that it was “affordable”. This is not the case if paying that loan led to you being so broke that you had to borrow again, either from the same lender, or from another (most people who have a short-term loan have them with multiple companies – it doesn’t take much to figure out why) – it is deemed unaffordable.
The FCA states that, “the borrower should be able to make the required repayments without undue difficulty, whilst continuing to meet other debt repayment obligations and reasonable regular outgoings.”
This means that a short-term loan is only affordable if the repayment was made on time, and you still had enough cash to pay your other bills or debts.
Lending Stream quick loans, like payday loans, are designed to be used to solve a short-term problem. If a borrower keeps rolling over a loan or repaying one and then taking out another loan almost immediately after, then this should send warning signals to the lender, and they should stop lending. Please keep reading to see how Lending Stream appear to ignore these warning signals!
It’s interesting to note that on Lending Stream’s website, it states, “Quick loans aren't usually designed for ongoing use” and “Quick loans are designed to be used occasionally at most. If you're using them regularly, you may be experiencing more financial difficulty than you realise”. So, they are very transparent about the nature of quick loans; they just don’t apply any of what they state when agreeing to fund multiple loans, which they do regularly.
The majority of complaints involving Lending Stream are that they allowed the borrower to have multiple loans running concurrently, or with some overlap; alarmingly, it is not at all unusual to see borrowers with as many as ten to fifteen loans – how on earth can this possible be regarded as “responsible lending”? One customer, during the course of a complaint, said that they had had 8 loans from them within 7 months, and another wrote that while Lending Stream had suggested that they had “only taken out 28 loans between July 2015 and July 2017” they had in fact taken out a total of 59 loans between July 2015 and January 2018. This says to me that 1) they deem that someone having 28 loans is perfectly reasonable, and 2) they are less than efficient (a cynic might say dishonest) when it comes to looking at their own records when having to answer to a complaint.
Many affordability complaints are rejected by Lending Stream, and customers can choose to escalate their case to the Financial Services Ombudsman. Overwhelmingly, the FOS has examined these cases and found that, despite proper in-depth checks being carried out on the first loan, subsequent loans were agreed without these proper checks being made.
If any of you have ever made an affordability complaint about a lender, you will have typically emailed them, either using an online template, or complained via a Claims Management Company, like Redbridge Finance Ltd., who would have emailed them. Towards the end of 2018, Lending Stream switched off the emails for their complaints department, a move that has frustrated so many customers, and actually goes against the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) rules (the FCA are Lending Stream’s regulator), as they state, “These procedures should:1) allow complaints to be made by any reasonable means”.
In this day and age, email is most people’s first choice when writing to anyone, as this way you have a paper trail of exactly what has been said by both sides, and you can also attach documents and include pertinent details. Lending Stream, obviously to stop the deluge of complaint emails, unprofessionally and discourteously blocked all complaint emails, and set up a web form to be used on their website instead, on their “Contact us” page. No other lender to date has done this, so it is not surprising that Lending Stream is considered one of the worst loans companies out there in terms of dealing with complaints.
So, to complain about Lending Stream and get a refund/compensation is somewhat more difficult and time consuming, and more and more customers are turning to Claims Management Companies (CMCs) such as Redbridge Finance Ltd., to help them. There are many CMCs out there, and you should make sure that you choose a company who is regulated, and bear in mind that some will charge you a fee upfront.
Redbridge Finance Ltd have had many successful refund/compensation wins for Lending Stream customers (despite the email blocking) and continue to do so. They are regulated by the FCA, and never ever charge an upfront fee.
Redbridge Finance claims experts can take on your case and make a claim for a full refund of all the interest and charges that Lending Stream have charged. If you want to make a complaint against Lending Stream, the process is very straightforward. All you need to do is sign up on our site and let us know which lenders you want to make a claim against. We then assess the information you have provided and take your claim forward by making a complaint on your behalf. We deal with the responses from Lending Stream, and of course will keep you informed every step of the way.
If you have had problems repaying your loan or think you might have been mis-sold a loan, then you could be entitled to a refund. Contact us today by going to www.redbridgefinance.co.uk and signing up, and we can assess if you have a claim.