We recently investigated six financial products we believe you can do without. We think each one represents poor value for money – and often there are cheaper, better alternatives. Do you have any to add?
The six products we analysed were mobile phone insurance, card protection, packaged current accounts, structured deposits, over-50s plans, and debt management companies.
Over this week, we’ve been explaining in detail exactly why we believe each of these products should be avoided. But for me, debt management companies are the worst. These firms specifically target people who, by the nature of the services they require, are already in serious financial trouble.
The companies then levy significant fees to help get your debts into a manageable state. But in fact, you can find the same help and advice elsewhere – for free. Charitable and government organisations (including the Consumer Credit Counselling Service and National Debtline) specialise in providing free, impartial advice for those in debt.
In other words, I don’t think there’s ever a need to use a commercial debt management company. People do so because they’re desperate, they’ve seen the ads the companies run, and they don’t realise there are free alternatives. I really wonder how the people who run these firms can sleep at night!
Your experiences of poor financial products
Our investigation into poor financial products kicked off our wider, Watchdog not Lapdog campaign. We want the new financial regulator to be responsible for putting a stop to poor-quality financial products like these, and it needs to be held to account and encouraged to be more proactive.
There are so many more poor financial products and unfair financial practices which are legal, but are arguably not ethically sound. And we’d like to find out which ones really get your goat. Then we can chase up your concerns, and see what, if anything, the regulator needs to do to address them.
Do you feel you’ve been the victim of a legal ‘rip-off’? Has a bank or other financial provider sold you a duff product? Please let us know.