A lot of people in the UK will know Wonga as the payday loan company with advertising that features creepy pensioner puppet’s obsessed with short term loans. I have had no dealings with Wonga, so I was pretty furious when they left my bank account £765 lighter.
I am lucky not to be in a financial position where I would need to consider a 4000%+ APR loan; I could go to a loan provider with my credit rating and get screwed at a more reasonable rate instead! I never thought I would have anything to do with the payday loan company Wonga
An open letter to Wonga
I didn’t think I would have to write this letter to you.
My name is Tom and I count myself lucky that I do not to need the services of a payday loan company like Wonga. I feel for people who have no other option than to turn to a loan at 4000%+ APR. Your business model seems to be to prey on vulnerable/stupid people with offers of quick cash and shocking interest. All I see of Wonga are your TV commercials featuring creepy pensioner puppets, that are almost as irritating as the delightful meerkat offerings from that insurance comparison site.
Personal gripes can’t argue with the fact that it is a business model that obviously works, people fall for the advertising, and it’s all regulated by the FSA. I had no reason to believe that there was any problem other than the mass conning of people desperate enough for a quick cash fix.
I thought that not having anything to do with your company would be enough to opt out of your services, however, it seems that that your route-to-bankruptcy reaches far beyond people who apply for a loan with Wonga.
A couple of weeks ago, I logged into my internet banking to check my account and pay some bills only to discover that my main account was a little light. My car insurance was due, so I thought maybe that had been taken already. I clicked into the main statement which is when I saw the name Wonga, two payments totalling £765.
You see I’m quite careful when it comes to my personal details. I have occasionally used my card when I have been inebriated, but I am pretty sure I have never thought that taking a loan out at Wonga would be a bit of a laugh when I have been. Just to be sure, I checked all of my accounts and sure enough, no incoming payments from Wonga. This is when I was introduced to incompetence personified, Wonga.
My first port of call was my bank, but their fraud department was closed when I discovered the payments so I thought that maybe Wonga customer service would be able to help.
To be fair, I found the number on your website quickly. I spoke to a lady who someone who would not talk to me without a name or address, which I reluctantly gave her. From these details she was able to confirm that there was a loan in my name. I tried to report to her that this was fraudulent activity. She said that she would transfer me to the fraud department.
When I was transferred, the dial tone changed before I heard a slightly unexpected message “Goodbye”, followed infuriatingly by an automated customer satifaction survey where I was asked to rate my call on a scale of 1-5. 0 is not an acceptable entry apparently, I suggest you change this.
Slightly annoyed, I decided to call back the following morning after reporting the fraud to my bank and the police. Unfortunately, my bank didn’t look at the case as they should have, delaying the return of my money. They told me that as it was your mistake, I should seek a reimbursement from you.
This time when I called, the curious “Goodbye” message was there for an hour and a half before I was able to get through to anyone. When I finally did get through, there was no record of my call the night before or of my reporting the account held in my name as fraudulent. The advisor I spoke to apologised for this and promised that the account would be blocked and the case would be passed to the fraud department, then I was cut off.
It seems that your telephone system is very effective at cutting off callers. I did call back, this time, I demanded, calmly, to speak to a supervisor. When I was tranferred I was cut off again.
About half an hour later, I was called by an Irish number by someone claiming to be a Wonga representative. He seemd to be a lot more helpful than anyone I had spoken to before. He tole me that no loan was taken out but my card details were used to pay of one of their other customer’s loans. He told me that I would have to raise a chargeback with the bank. He would not send this in writing but would send it by email. Another half an hour later I received a generic email with a reference number that looked very much like someone punched the keyboard a few times.
Since this call and email I have made no progress with Wonga, no one has attempted to contact me from your seemingly finctional fraud department despite weekly calls to chase this up.
It seems that your website claim’s that you can turn around a loan application in 15 minutes, but if something goes wrong your more than happy to waste much more of someone’s elses time, regardless of the fact they have never been a customer. While your incompetent customer service were not providing any answers, I was discovering that a large number of people have been affected in the same way.
I found @aloadofwonga on Twitter, which has a large number of reported cased similar to mine, there are forums on money advice websites too. You could argue that this is insignificant, but the press are onto you too.
So what is the reason for this letter to you, Wonga. Well, I’m not after any compensation, although you could argue that I or the bank should charge you interest on the money that you took based on how long you take to pay it back. I’m not after an apology, it would be nice but your company representatives have already lied to me so I have no faith that it would be sincere. What do I want?
Please explain to me why you continue to continue to pay loans onto one account, while taking payment from another account that is in a completely different, unrelated name?
In liu of your incompetence, my bank has stepped in and reimbursed me with the funds that you took from my account. The chap I spoke to at the special investigations department told me a few things about scams involving Wonga and how common they are. It doesn’t sound to me that they are very happy with your fraud prevention systems.