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This Article is provided by BBC Watchdog (The AnswerBank is not affiliated with BBC Watchdog)
23rd November 2004
Advantage Loans is based in Bournemouth. According to an Advantage Loan representative, "Basically there is a fee to pay, but we either guarantee to find you a loan, or to refund your money."
Nicky Chapman had a big council tax bill and other little debts which were starting to get her down. She thought the answer was a loan. Advantage Loans guaranteed her a loan if she sent them a fee of £49.50. She sent the money, but didn't get a loan or her money back.
We called Advantage Loans as an entirely fictional character and asked for a £20,000 loan. Several days later we received a letter that said, 'We are pleased to confirm that preliminary checks on your personal details confirm that you have been accepted by our company.' No checks had been made.
The Wagers also turned to Advantage Loans for a £20,000 loan. They received a letter, as we had, implying they would get a £20,000 loan so they paid the £49.50 fee. All they were offered was a £1000 loan on condition they supplied a guarantor which they couldn't.
The Wagers then received a letter from a company called CGS offering them a bank account and a credit card - for a fee. CGS and Advantage Loans are both part of the same company Post Net Ltd. Post Net Ltd would have received both fees.
Three years ago Credit Gain Services, another one of Post Net Ltd's companies, was reprimanded by the Advertising Standards Authority for misleading people into parting with a £74 fee on the promise of repairing bad credit records or getting them a credit card.
Jackie Thompson of Advantage Loans said, "As manager the buck has to stop with me and I now accept that we may have unintentionally misled customers in the past. We have fallen down in our customer service procedures and would now like to put that right. We will be completely overhauling all the company procedures and unreservedly apologise to those involved in the film and have offered them a refund."