media & legal strategies
confidential hotline 0845 528 0706

Victory Over Bullying Bank

National Newspaper - July 2013

Amanda Roberts contacted us after winning a court case against HBOS bank who plagued her with calls for money that she was happy to pay into her branch account.

HBOS spent tens of thousands of pounds going to the Court of Appeal to try and get the case against them over turned but the judge found in Miss Roberts' favour.

Scroll down to read the full story.
Woman who took on the bank's bullies... and won: £7,500 payout for victim of 550 calls in seven months

Amanda Roberts, 48 was harassed by Halifax call centre staff
She requested to deal with her branch, but the calls persisted
She received 550 calls during a seven month period - up to eight a day

A customer has won damages for harassment against a bullying bank who bombarded her with hundreds of unwanted phone calls.

Amanda Roberts, 48, received 550 calls from the Halifax Bank of Scotland during a seven-month period after she missed a single payment on a loan.

She preferred to deal with her branch in person rather than call centre staff, but they refused her repeated requests to stop the constant calls.

Miss Roberts received 92 calls during a fortnight and eight on one day alone and became a 'nervous wreck' with the stress caused by the 'rude and uncaring' bank.

She felt so angry about her treatment that she sued for harassment. Miss Roberts, a former bar worker with no qualifications, represented herself during a gruelling five-year legal battle. And she won her case against all the odds, despite being up against a team of expensive lawyers.

Her victory was only possible because she recorded 61 calls on her mobile phone and produced them as evidence.

Judge Shaun Spencer, QC, sitting at Bradford County Court awarded Miss Roberts £7,500 damages and said some of the bank staff's remarks were 'unacceptable.' 

He said: 'I was shocked when I read some of the utterances which were given out from the call centre.' 

Miss Roberts said: 'They were nasty, they were offensive and it was shocking. I didn't want to be pestered by phone calls, I wanted to deal with them in person at the bank.' 

But refusing to take no for an answer, the call centre repeatedly phoned her mobile and her parents' home, where she used to live, from 8am until 9pm.

'They wouldn't stop ringing and when I asked for a supervisor they hung up on me. I was absolutely devastated and paralysed, I was angry, shaking and tearful. I couldn't eat or sleep because of the calls.

'I wouldn't open my door or my blinds because I was so worried about the bank and what they might do. I was left a nervous wreck.'

Miss Roberts, of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, was unable to work because of a stress-related health problem and living off benefits at the time the problems began in December 2007.

She was making £115 monthly repayments on a £7,350 bank loan when her benefits were late coming into her account and she missed a repayment.  

Miss Roberts received a letter giving her a date in the following month to repay the money by and she went into her branch to sort it out before the deadline.
Bank worker: Is that Amanda Roberts?  
Miss Roberts: I've spoken to people like you before and I keep asking you to not ring me up and to contact me in writing if you need to contact me. 

Bank worker: Well it's urgent we speak to you, that's why we're ringing you today. 
Miss Roberts: Well I've told you that I will go into my bank and see them. I don't want people ringing me up over and over again and to have to keep telling them this. 

Bank worker: Right. Well you've given this number as a contact number. 
Miss Roberts: I haven't actually. And another thing, right, I'd like you to take this number off your many times a day are you going to ring me?  

Bank worker: Well, until you speak to us and co-operate with us, we are going to continue to call you with regards to this matter. 

(later in the conversation)  
Miss Roberts: How long is this going to go on? Can you take this number off your records because this is harassment and this is making me ill. 
Bank worker: Right, okay, madam but we need to contact you so we are going to call you on this number. 
Miss Roberts: So you're going to carry on ringing me?  
Bank worker: Yes, right, until you're willing to speak to us, madam. 

Miss Roberts: 'You're going to carry on ringing me and you will not stop ringing me? Right. 
Bank worker: No, we're not going to stop ringing you, madam, no. 

(Two days later she speaks to another bank worker)  
Miss Roberts: Why am I getting these calls when I keep asking you to stop ringing me?  
Bank worker: That's Amanda, yes?  
Miss Roberts: Did you hear me?  
Bank worker: Yes  
Miss Roberts: Can you hear me? Why am I getting these calls when I keep asking you to stop ringing me?  

Bank worker: Is this Amanda I am talking to, yes?  
Miss Roberts: Are you deaf?  
Bank worker: Right, Amanda. We won't stop the calls unless we talk to you. 
Miss Roberts: And do you know that I keep asking over and over again for you not to ring me? And I will contact my bank directly and speak to them. 
Bank worker: Right  

Miss Roberts: Over and over again I keep asking you and you keep ringing me. I'm getting called at 8.10 in the morning and 9.50 at night. 
Bank worker: You will do. 
Miss Roberts: I will do? Over and over again?  
Bank worker: Yes. Do you want me to stop the calls coming out to you?  

Miss Roberts: Excuse me, how many times have I asked? Stop ringing me. 
Bank worker: Okay. We'll give you a ring later. 
Miss Roberts: No you won't. 
Bank worker: Yes we will. 

Miss Roberts: Oh and you're just going to keep doing it over and over again?  
Bank worker: Yes until you talk to us.

However, the issue was not resolved because the bank had 'blocked' her account in error and staff at the branch refused to sort it out. Miss Roberts said she was keen to protect her credit history but the calls continued despite paying her arrears when the block was lifted from her account.

'If I had not recorded the calls I wouldn't have had a chance of proving anything,' she said.

She decided to take action on a 'matter of principle' and received £5,000 Legal Aid which paid for initial advice from a solicitor and the opinion of a barrister. 

When the case came to court she represented herself and after losing the harassment case the bank spent £30,000 on an appeal, which they also lost.

Helped by two friends, Miss Roberts travelled to London to face the Appeal Court judges, who last month backed her rather than the highly paid bank QC.

'I couldn't give up, if I had given up I would have felt finished. They have tried to crush me from the day this started. It was never about the money, I wanted to be heard and to prove a point.

'I have never received an apology from the bank and I just hope they now change the way they work.' 

Miss Roberts said she hoped now to get on with her life, but she could yet face financial ruin. She still owes more than £10,000 to the bank and although the bank must pay most of her legal costs, she has to pay its fees for three days of court hearings - likely to be between £10,000 and £30,000.

A Halifax spokeswoman said: 'This case dates back several years and we are confident that our policies and procedures have long since been updated, addressing the concerns raised in the judgment.'