“I keep reminding people that they are all the number one thing in the Central Bank reports, but behind them all are individuals and families,” says Padrik Kissen, chief whistleblower of the €1bn-plus Tracker mortgage scam.
Thirteen years later, the affair continues to haunt thousands of Irish people.
Yesterday, the AIB was fined a record €96.7m for denying customers access to cheap mortgages, delivering “disastrous results” on nearly 13,000 homes.
Solicitor Paul Carroll talks about his family’s eight-year nightmare dealing with KBC, which charged him more than €78,000.
“I fought and won, but it was an uphill battle,” he said. “We spent many years repaying the bank before we realized we definitely deserved a tracker.
“Then we spent another two years arguing with him. The more certain we became that we were right, the more he denied it. That was almost the worst part of it. ,
Klein, a father of two from Ko Kildare, endured an endless cycle of letters and phone calls in the evenings and weekends. At one point, he was threatened with a debt collector.
“Like a switch, we finally got the call to say we were right and they were assuming. It took practically a year for him to do well in terms of compensation,” Mr Carroll said.
“I only worked with KBC and I definitely found them very unpleasant. But in each case I hear remarkably similar sounds, no matter what bank you’re dealing with.
“Clients face the might of a very large financial institution, saying they were right and customers were wrong.”
Mr Carroll said the experience of dealing with KBC over the years was “incredibly stressful”.
“It was very difficult to deal with them all the way. Dealing with them was extremely unpleasant, and they were completely inconsistent. That was a very difficult time. And for most of that, we were on our own,” he said.
“Our initial argument with them was that we were paying too much interest, but then when I came to know that we were entitled to stay on the tracker rate, they refused outright.
“It went on for years, and the repayment was huge. We weren’t able to meet them, but we always paid what we could and, as it turns out, more than we should have had.”
Mr. Carroll has some advice for anyone looking to enter into a loan agreement with a bank.
“Grab and email every single document you possibly can,” he said. “It’s important that you pay attention to every single call.”
They have appealed to the Financial Services Ombudsman against the level of award received from KBC, but the tracker is still awaiting a decision, five years later, due to the high number of complaints.
“The level of compensation being offered by banks is inadequate,” said Mr. Carroll. “It has to reflect years of fighting and being told you wrong, only to find that institution and practically every other institution in the field was doing the same thing with thousands of people.
“It was a highly organized conspiracy and you have to admit that laws were broken along the way. And if they weren’t, it’s an even worse reflection of it being a regulated industry.”
Scientist Dr Helen Grogan is one of thousands of permanent TSB customers still fighting for compensation from the bank for losing a tracker.
“I don’t trust any of them,” she said. “I was with the PTSB and I still haven’t been compensated for my case. The ombudsman normally found that against our group because it was a contractual issue.”
Dr. Grogan estimates that the bank’s failure to get him back on a tracker has cost him €40,000, and he is determined to keep fighting.
A group of them recently had some success with the Lokpal, giving them new hope.
“I’m over it now, but it used to trigger a real crisis,” she said. “I think I’m out about €40,000.
“But I’m glad some people got money back from the banks and I’m a little sorry for myself that we haven’t yet. Hopefully, we will, but I’m not holding my breath.”