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Our Managing Director, Phil King, being awarded his Paul Harris Fellowship.
 
Phil has twice been President of the National Consumer Credit Federation and is a committee member of the Consumer Credit Association (UK). He has served on the Money Advice Liaison Group and has been involved in Government legislative consultations on a number of credit-related subjects.
 
The Company is committed to working within the community, contributing towards holidays for disabled children through the Handicapped Children's Pigrimage Trust and sponsoring local youth teams. Through it's links with Rotary International the company has assisted in local and international schemes including the building of hospitals, schools and orphanages, and the supply of equipment such as ambulances, in third world countries. In 2003 Phil was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship by Rotary for work done on international projects.   

Home Credit - Friend or Foe?  
Credit, like fire, needs to be handled responsibly, to avoid getting burnt! Credit is a tremendous benefit to the economy, and dealt with sensibly can be extremely useful to both borrower and lender alike. However, if either party does not act responsibly, both will inevitably suffer in some way.  

 
That is why Bristol Finance goes to great lengths to achieve excellent business standards, and why the Home Credit industry as a whole does not deserve the image with which it is often labelled by its detractors, many of whom are ignorant of the real facts. Even when faced with overwhelming evidence which confirms that home credit satisfies its customers' requirements, 'middle-class Britain' is so convinced that it knows best that it refuses to accept that our customers are bright enough to know what they want. In a nutshell, though, we don't get complaints from the people we serve!

    
Mention home credit to the average person and they think of baseball bats and menace! The reality could not be further from the truth. Our agents tend to be mature women, working part-time, who assist our customers with all sorts of problems, not just financial ones. They are considered to be the customer's friend, and it is thanks to the experience and quality of our agents that we are able to provide a valuable service which our customers repeatedly recognise, not only by transacting further business but also in recommending friends and family to transact business as well.  
 
A Few Myths Dispelled!

  • "Home Credit businesses encourage people to get into debt they cannot afford". Well, no we don't!! After all, we're a business and bad debt reduces profit. All credit applications are discussed at a home visit where we insist on seeing proof of a customer's ability to pay. This ensures that our customers do not get into excessive debt. Compare this to a credit card company which will offer large amounts of credit without any proof of income. In a recent report issued by National Debtline, the number of clients experiencing problems with home credit accounts was so small that it did not merit listing.
  • "Home Credit is extortionate". We do not charge excessive rates. It may be cheaper to borrow from a bank, but it is nonsensical to compare High Street credit charges to home credit charges. Our charges are higher because we offer a higher level of service; imagine the cost of having a bank manager doing a house-call each week! Perhaps the nearest comparison is with a milkman who also offers a doorstep service - the cost of milk which is delivered to the home is considerably higher than it would be in a supermarket. Another comparison could be the difference in price between a bottle of lager in a supermarket or in the pub - twice as much, the explanation being that you are paying for a more personal service.

"Home Credit company loans carry enormous interest charges". APRs are an inadequate way to compare charges. APRs do not work on accounts which are less than 12 month's duration. The most important thing to consider is the TOTAL cost of the credit - including setup fees, default charges, arrangement costs, payment protection charges, life cover and all the other 'add-ons' that other sectors charge. An APR of 300% DOES NOT MEAN that the customer will repay 3 times the amount of the loan!

  • "Home Credit companies confuse customers with hidden charges". Our charges are very clear - every customer knows from the outset what they will be expected to pay. Compare this to banks, which charge ongoing fees, arrangement fees, default fees and letter fees, all without leaving the comfort of their office! Our customers realise that they are getting value for money - 94% of customers say they find their agent helpful and friendly.

  • "Home Credit companies 'trap' people into a 'circle of debt'". Again, not true. On average, customers deal with us for a limited number of accounts, after which they find that changes in their circumstances mean that they will not have further loans.

  • "It is impossible for customers in difficulties to pay off their debts". We do not create a never-ending crisis by adding default interest. Customers in genuine need can re-negotiate their agreement to pay their account over an extended period with no penalties being added. The special agent/customer relationship allows us to work with customers to sort out any problems without adding extra charges which make things worse. We know every one of our customers by name - it's a relationship other lenders can only dream of!

  • "Home Credit companies don't even care if the customer's can't pay - they just take their house!" We do not repossess people's houses. All our accounts are unsecured, meaning that we take the risk. Can the same be said of our competitors? Another reason why we cannot be accused of 'forcing people into debt' or 'preying on the weak'.

  • "Home Credit companies only exist because the customers have nowhere else to go!" Once again, the facts prove otherwise. All of our customers have some other form of credit facility; 62% have a bank account, yet choose to use our services. The reasons given are that they are satisfied with the service (90%) and that they know we understand their problems (86%). They use our service for many reasons, such as holidays, household items, consumer electricals, unexpected bills and Christmas.  

  • "Home Credit companies deliberately force people into excessive debt which they cannot manage". We do not cause overindebtedness. In 2000 the National Association of Citizen's Advice Bureaux (NACAB) claimed that there had been a 37% increase in requests for debt advice. As a result, the Government set up the 'Overindebtedness Task Force', which found there has been no discernible increase in overindebtedness over the last 15 years. In fact, MORI found that only 3% of households had a 'multiple debt problem'. In 2002, 95.37% of all credit agreements were paid in full and on time (Experian). National Debtline, a phone debt advice service set up by the Government (with credit companies' funding!) has found that less than 2.5% of all calls are linked in any way with the Home Credit industry. 


Those who are most vocal in attacking our industry are often from a money advice background, who to be fair see the worst effects of credit on those in financial difficulty. However they would do well to be as open-minded as Nick Pearson, National Money Advice Co-ordinator, Federation of Information and Advice Centres (now AdviceUK), who spent time with an agent and reported back as follows:
  • 'Many of the customers were clearly not poor and in many cases could probably have got a loan from a bank. It was clear that they appreciated the personal service offered - the loan when you needed it with no fuss'
  • '(Home collected credit companies) success is all down to staff working at a local level who are well-known, trusted and valued by the people they lend to and collect from. This is nothing new; in 1994 the Policy Studies Institute published 'Moneylenders And Their Customers' which made much the same discovery.'
  • 'The idea that the social fund could replace home collected credit is laughable - I can't imagine any Government Department being able to organise a service which met the needs of people .. so effectively.'
  • 'Credit Unions may be a good idea for some but until they can match home collected credit in terms of speed or service, convenience they will remain a total irrelevance.'
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