Like many people these days I have a couple of student loans. Recently our (UK) Government decided to sell the old loans to private companies. My loan was sold to a company called Erudio.
Erudio wrote to me in a pretty threatening manner while I was ill, demanding I gave them my bank account details, national Insurance number and many other bits of information that I hadn’t needed to give when I took out the loan, way back in 1993, whilst at the same time telling me that my Terms and Conditions hadn’t changed.
They threatened to wreck my credit rating (whatever that is) if I didn’t comply within a certain time and use the law to recover the full amount of the loan.
There was a form. I signed it, maybe I shouldn’t have but what are you supposed to do ?
Anyway, I’d received a letter from them confirming that I was below the earning threshold for repayment and they would “defer” me for one year.
I looked around their website for my Terms and Conditions they weren’t there, although in the FAQ’s it repeated the obvious falsehood that my “Terms and Conditions hadn’t changed”.
I thought it over and decided to start at the beginning and speak with the people I’d taken the loan out with, so, went to Student Loans Company, a large building in the City Centre. I sat on the couch in the foyer. It’s looking nice these days, new turnstiles where the workers, swipe their IDs. One of the security guards now stands in front of the desk, he’s lost a little weight. The other one still sits behind, he hasn’t.
They took around 10 minutes to come down in the lift, I introduced myself and explained that I had two loans and wanted to discuss the older of these that had been sold to Erudio. I was looking for the Terms and Conditions which I had repeatedly been assured “Had not changed”.
I’d looked on Erudio’s site , they weren’t there. I’d looked on the Student Loans Company website, they weren’t there either.
The two ladies from the Student Loans Company were very nice, they made a few notes and headed back towards the lift.
When they returned they said
“Bad news I’m afraid, we can’t give you them. Your loan has been sold to Erudio”
Me “I know”
Them “Here’s Erudio’s website address”
Me “They don’t have them on the web site”
Me “I though you might have a copy of them. Who actually has them?”
Them “We have your contract. We still hold it, for Erudio, but we can’t give you the Terms and Conditions. Erudio have to request us to do that and there’s a charge”
Me “This whole thing seems a bit messed up, there are lots of scare stories in the Newspapers about sharp practice and even a suggestion that what is going on is not strictly legal. Erudio are threatening people who are not liable to pay because they don’t earn enough.the whole thing is gonna collapse”
They nodded and whispered a suggestion that I go to my local MP.
I went to the City Chambers, to look for my MP. They told me it was only councilors in the City Chambers and to try the office round the corner.
The office round the corner were fairly uninterested and told me to go to Citizen’s advice
Citizen’s advice was fun.
A mild day, I was sweating slightly just walking around looking for the office, no signage, missed it twice.
At the front desk I was given a plastic keyring with the number 24 on it and asked to fill in an equality monitoring form on a clipboard.
Race, Religion – I prefer not to say.
The European looking man who came in after me didn’t have a clipboard and eyed mine enviously.
The office was depressing. The heating was on. There seemed to be three advisers, taking a long time, I suppose each person’s story has to be told, listened to and understood before anything can even be done about it. They were taking breaks in between seeing people, I was a little frustrated and it was hot in there.
A couple of hours passed, then, the next number was gonna be me. It seemed to be lunch time at that point, fair enough really, people need to have lunch.
The NEWS was on.
Secret trial, the Blairs’ address, no, the address of one of the properties they own, that narrows it down to around 30 then.
Some of the trial was in secret, with hand picked Journos who weren’t allowed to report what they saw or heard – whats the point of that ? Makes you wonder if any of it is actually happening at all.
Eventually, after explaining things to Liz , she gave Erudio a call, she passed the phone to me to give my permission for her to represent me and talk on my behalf, the adviser did what I knew he would, attempted to fill in the blanks on my data sheet, college you attended (eh ?) mobile phone number (?) mother’s maiden name and inside leg measurement (he didn’t really ask for these last two but mainly, I suspect, because he was getting nowhere with me and I kept bringing him back to the reason for the call).
I handed the phone back to Liz who proceeded to ask him for my original credit agreement, now, this was not AT ALL what I had asked her to ask for. We had agreed before the call that what I was after was the Terms and Conditions,. I had already ascertained that the original contract was being held by the Student Loans Company but that they were unable / unwilling to provide me with a copy of these. Words are Important.
However the very fact that we were on the phone asking for information prompted the Erudio Rep to tell us that there seemed to be a reason that they would no longer be pursuing my (apparent) debt with them.
I’m not clear as to what that reason is as I don’t have a copy of the contract OR the Terms and Conditions.
Perhaps this is why the T and Cs were nowhere to be found on their website and no longer available on the Student Loans website.
Sometimes simply asking for information gets you a result.
Now, I still don’t have this in writing and there’s an old saying “There’s many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip”
I’ll keep you posted.