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Howard's complaint against uSwitch

Howard Beale


Price comparison site uSwitch misled customer into switching life assurance

Complaint against uSwitch

I am writing to make a formal complaint regarding uSwitch’s arrangement of a policy with Aviva for life assurance. My previous policy was with Legal & General for £38.71 per month. I went on to uSwitch looking for a cheaper quote. The sales person asked if I would like them to quote for critical illness as well. I stupidly said yes, not fully understanding the implications. The policy with Aviva was authorised without my approval and approximately £2,500 was taken from my bank account before I realised what had happened. I did not approve the quotation issued by uSwitch, and uSwitch authorised the policy with Aviva without my consent. I did not see any documentation and did NOT approve their quotation or policy. uSwitch, Aviva, and the Financial Ombudsman said because the company had sent the documentation that was enough and they had fulfilled all their responsibilities. I saw later that the small print in their policy documentation said you must respond and make a cancellation within 14 days or the policy would be considered active. It is simply right that a company can proceed with a policy without receiving formal consent in writing. There is no way I would have agreed to switch from paying £38.71 per month to £245 per month. The quotation issued by uSwitch on e-mail following my application online was not received because it went into my junk mail. I provided the evidence for this. The paperwork containing the policy schedule and premium was received on 15 October, by which point the policy had already been activated. I made a formal complaint to uSwitch, Aviva, and the Financial Ombudsman. The Financial Ombudsman investigated the issue and responded as follows: "I am satisfied that the business made you aware of the cost of the policy and the fact that the policy was in force. I think it is reasonable to say that you would have listened to the voicemails that had been left for you. In addition, I think if you did not want to start the policy then you would have contacted Aviva to let it know of this, but I cannot find that you did this. As such, I am of the view that the policy started upon your request. . Finally, I believe the onus is on the consumer to ensure that any policy that is put in force without their consent is cancelled by making the business aware. The business is unable to cancel a life and critical illness policy without the consumer’s consent. I understand that you believed you had only completed an online quotation. However, it has been confirmed that you completed an online application for a life and critical illness policy. Furthermore, you received documentation in the post confirming an application had been submitted to Aviva. As noted above, a direct debit mandate had been completed giving Aviva permission to collect the monthly policy premium. Also, I can see that you were sent a letter which confirmed that the policy was in force. Therefore, I am satisfied that the business made you fully aware of this policy and do not consider the business to have acted unreasonably or unfairly in this instance". It was a corporate whitewash. Nothing I could do.

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