To many readers of this blog, I suspect the note above will be a bit like stating the bleedin’ obvious. Yet recently I’ve heard from a number of different sources at banks, that when using this site’s template letters, that’s exactly what a small, but significant number of people do.
The letters are contained in a variety of guides including Bank Charges, Loan Insurance, Parking Fines, Section 75 and more, and over 6 million have been downloaded in total. The aim is simple, it’s a start point to send off your own letter which you should tailor to fit the specifics of the case. Yet I’ve recently learned some people do the following:
- Literally print it unchanged and send. This is the more extreme and thankfully more rare problem. People print a template letter without adding any of their details so it still says “Your Name, Your Address” etc in the letter.
- Add brief details and leave all the fields in. Much more common is to send the letters adding details but leaving all the [Your Address] bits in as well as adding in their address.
This is a slightly frustrating scenario. Not because I blame those who’ve done it, one of the main aims of the site and my work is to try and help people who find finance the most difficult, scary and confusing to deal with, never mind those in society who are illiterate and have been conned into dreadful financial products and are desperate for help.
I’m partly annoyed with myself for not realising it earlier, and adapting the templates so they are easier to understand and to help – I dread to think how many people have lost out by doing this.
Yet I also think it shows the dire need for some provision of direct help for people for whom doing it themselves is too difficult, without the need to resort to claims handlers who take a huge chunk of any reclaim. It’s simply impossible to do that on the web, as the web requires some pre-internet knowledge to start with.
As a quick solution I’ve added the box below to the top of all our template letters and tried to make the brackets we use more clear. It was a difficult thing to do so you don’t patronise the people who think its obvious, but help those who don’t. If anyone has any more ideas I’d welcome them.
PLEASE READ THEN DELETE THIS BOX
This is a template letter for guidance. You need to add your details and where appropriate change the letter to suit your particular circumstances.
Once you’ve made changes, always print it out and read through to check it makes sense to the recipient.
[BLUE BRACKETS]: Put your specific info here, then delete the instructions (and change the text colour)
[RED BRACKETS]: Just for info, after you’ve read delete