Legal advice, please…

It felt like a fairly open and shut case. A major national financial organisation is running procedures that blatantly discriminate against trans men and women. That breaches the Equality Act. Sorted.

A shot across their bows – and Bob’s your uncle? Not quite.

I seem to have entered a legal maze and am wary that I am about to be given a very clever and ultimately fruitless run-around.

Here’s the problem. When you go to a big retailer – in this case BHS – and apply for a “storecard” with credit facilities attached, the card comes eventually from a card provider (Barclaycard).

Before they issue a card, the latter must “score” your application, which they do using a third party – Equifax. It is the procedures of the last company that are in question.

But. If you apply for a card to BHS, you have no direct relationship with the end company. Rather, they pass your application on to Barclaycard, who process it using the services of Equifax – and they then decide whether or not to issue a card.

So who do you complain to and, more to the point, who can you seek legal redress from? The answer, this afternoon, from BHS was “not us, guv!”. They say: we pass the app on. Barclaycard score it. Barclaycard issue the card. Barclaycard process the data. So nothing to do with us.

Against which I have two thoughts: if a BHS toaster blew up and wrecked my kitchen, I would not sue the manufacturer. I’d sue the retailer (BHS). They, in turn, MIGHT take the matter up with their own supplier – but I would have no legal redress in respect of that second party in the chain.

Same here. I was invited to apply for a card by a BHS staff member. I filled out a form with BHS in the branding. Response and all subsequent dealings have been handled by a BHS call centre.

So, it seems to me, it ought to be BHS who are in the frame.

But if they’re right, there is absolutely no point in doing anything to them cause…they’re not responsible.

I will take full legal advice before proceeding. But anyone reading this with a legal background…your thoughts would be much appreciated.

Equifax are POSSIBLY beng discriminatory. Barclaycard use Equifax. BHS use Barclaycard. MY own innocent point of view is that BHS must answer for that.




5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Paula said,

    This is a case of reading the small print.. under the consumer credit act I believe it is the actual issuer (in this case Barclays) as they are ultimately the company you cave a credit agreement with. Food for thought.. selling “credit” isn’t the same as selling a toaster.
    Hope that helps .. the same thing often happens with mobile phone contracts through a reseller.. the end company responsible are not the front facing reseller (agent) but the company you actually have the service through.

  2. 2

    Natacha said,

    This is not unusual. It is a scam the credit cards use to get around. It works the other war round. I had a dodgy part sold to me for my Gti many years ago, By a Garage in Yorks. I paid by Barclaycard, expecting to be able to claim it back if it went wrong. The trouble is the garage’s credit card account was with HSBC so Barclaycard said there was nothing they could do because HSBC was the provider for the garage. I would have neede to be with HSBC to claim anything. Citizens Advice confirmed this.

    What this means is that credit card companies probably avoid their responsibilities in about 2/3 of cases whilst advertising that they guarantee your purchases. They have deliberately created a maze of different systems to protect themselves. It is a way of avoiding their responsibilities.

    yet another example of the failures of capitalism and the private sector; bankesr get rich by ripping us off.

  3. 3

    Paula said,

    Forgot to add.. there is a 3 month cutoff on the equality act .. better to fire the complaint to the commissioners as soon as possible.. even if they don’t take it up they will advise and be able to provide a full legal definition. When I spoke to them last year in person they had to go and make a couple of phonecalls to clarify my question..

  4. 4

    The key question is what is your cause of action? This will then dictate who you can sue. The general principle of litigation is to establish as many causes of action as possible against people with deep pockets.

    If the cause of action is under ss. 29(1) and 29(2) of the Equality Act 2010 then you just need a person offering services to the public who discriminates in the provision of the service – so either BHS or Barclaycard or Equifax or all three – it won’t matter with whom the contract is.

    On the toaster example you would have a cause of action against BHS under the Sale Of Goods Act. You may also have a cause of action in tort following the well known case of Donoghue v Stevenson.


  5. 5

    Very informative post. I’ll be back. Keep writing.

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