I wish I had taken out payment- protection insurance (PPI). Yes, you read that right. I almost did, in fact. In 2001 I took out a loan to buy a car with Alliance & Leicester – now part of Santander – and throughout the process the salespeople kept adding a PPI policy onto my monthly repayment figure. I phoned three times and instructed them to take off the ppi. My regrets don't stem from the fact that I would have needed to claim, but from the fact that if I had allowed myself to be mis-sold, I would now be awaiting a hefty compensation cheque, just like the one winging its way to my mother.
She was mis-sold PPI by both the Halifax and the Co-op and in the first case – despite intrusive questioning – she has now received her compensation, which seems to be the premiums, plus interest paid on the premiums, topped up to the tune of 8% per year.
Because she chose to pursue the claim herself rather than through a claims-management firm, she will keep the lot and I have worked out that she has done better out of being mis-sold PPI than she could have done if she had invested the cash in the stock market or placed it into even the best-paying individual savings account. I can't help but feel a little jealous.
* Recently we investigated the pension-liberation industry. Basically, these fly-by-night firms look to persuade people to deposit their pension with them in a high-risk, offshore-investment scheme with the dubious promise of being able to unlock some cash. Up to 90% of the fund can disappear in charges and investment underperformance and they are a terrible idea. Now, it seems, HM Revenue & Customs agrees, and following reports such as ours has announced a raft of measures to put an end to this abuse. Let's hope we now have action to put these schemes out to grass.