They are a ripoff quoted £39.15 for building and contents Insurance and I took a quote from Halifax and was given £18.65 for the same with added cover! that's a difference of £246 a year! Don't go anywhere near it!
I am not going in to the ins and outs with this company and the issues I have, but rest assured I will NEVER be using them again. They will do anything to stall or prevent pay out of matured policies and come up with all sorts of excuses regards company policy yada yada yada. Very frustrated and wished I had gone to a more reputable firm who listen, help and pay out.
On endownment mortgages there is a protection that waves your premium should you become ill or unemployed.
Countrywide seem to have a basic problem understanding that if a premium has to increase because the endownment is not going to reach its target, that they are responsible to pay this increased premium should the protection have to kick in. They actually asked me to pay the top up. I said I would be happy to, of course, if I were worling but I am not. I said that therefore Countrwide should pay the new premiums. I have sought the services of a financial adviser who assures me I am correct so if there is a shortfall at termination then Countrywide have a lot of explaining to do! They are fully responsible for paying the increased premiums and will have to meet the amount in full. After all, I took out the mortgage, and, thankfully the policy which one of their representatives sold me in the first place.
Make sure that if you have premium waiver and you need to use this, that Countrywide are not pulling a fast one and still only paying the basic premium. Make sure you tell them this in writing and that you agree to the increase in premium when they send out their red warning letters advising of a possible shortfall. That way they cannot come back to you with some gumf trying to wriggle out of it! One thing is for sure, it was worth taking the policy out in the first place and it gives you peace of mind, if handled correctly and understood by those dealing with it!
Our experience with Countrywide's advisors based in Bracknell has been awful - the advisor told us he had a training course for a week then didn't reply to any emails or phone calls - I spent nearly two whole days trying to contact the office and finally had to take it to senior management levels after a rather agitated phone call where the advisor told us he was overstretched and couldn't find time for our case. Stay clear of this company - quick to get your business then lay back when you want a speedy process.
Be very careful if using Countrywide to arrange your mortgage. They told me on the phone that their service was free, so I made an appointment. At my appointment I asked the advisor face to face how much it would cost and he again told me it was free. I then asked him how he made money if it was a free service and he told me that the mortgage companies pay them for recommending their products. I was very surprised then, when I was charged £99 for the service. Be aware and question every payment they take - it appeared to me at the time that the payments were for the mortgage company but one of them was actually a fee for Countrywide itself.
I moved three and a half years ago, and used Countrywide Conveyancing as it was recommended by agents for both sale and purchase. Completion was delayed as documents were constantly lost or duplicated. On the day we were supposed to exchange contracts I was informed that they did not have the deeds to my house, despite having had three months to acquire them from my ex husband. I lost £900 deposit on a removal van. When I threatened legal action against them, their lawyer said that they could no longer act for me due to 'conflict of interests'. After many tears and tantrums some money was refunded to me, and the company director I was eventually given access to said I was a hard woman, and could he take me out for dinner once I had moved.
My current house is on the market and the buyers are using Countrywide. Imagine my dismay. To date indentification documents have been lost and Countrywide have contradicted themselves regarding an indemnity policy. My current conveyancer is tearing her hair out as to date she has received no acknowledgement to her last four letters and faxes, and we were hoping for a quick sale.
I have written to Countrywide's director, Mark Bailey, outlining my grievances, and if anyone is interested I will update this entry as the sale progresses.
Countrywide Financial Services/Conveyancing - June 2004
We are currently in the process of completing on the sale and purchase of property and have used Countrywide to do this.
After telling us there were no additional costs involved if we used them to arrange our mortgage rather than going direct to our lender, we decided to use Countrywide (to go direct would have taken 4 weeks to get an appointment and Countrywide offered us a mortgage arrangement appointment the same week). Upon receipt of all relevant literature through the post, both my husband and myself read through it at length and again were able to confirm the service was stated as being completely FREE.
However, after 2 hours sat in the office on the day of our appointment we were asked for a fee of nearly £300 to cover our mortgage arrangement fee to our lender. We were confused and told our advisor that we had looked recently at the cost of our lenders mortgage arrangement fee and that it was some £120 less than the figure we were being quoted from Countrywide. We were told that fee's had recently gone up, but not by that much, and were told that we must be mistaken. Not convinced we resolved to double check once we got home.
To our annoyance, we had indeed been completely correct. It turns out that Countrywide charge an additional fee for arranging it through them, despite their assurances to us that there were no extra fee's!
The following day I went into the branch where we had held the pervious days meeting and voiced my concerns. I was met with complete ignorance and refusal to see that if we'd gone direct to our mortgage lender we would have saved £120. Therefore to arrange our mortgage through Countrywide had cost us £120 more - meaning that arranging a mortgage through Countrywide was not FREE at all, and costs an additional arrangement sum over and above that which is charged by the lender.
In none of their literature that they give out to their clients is this mentioned. Therefore I believe this is a 'hidden' fee and would heartily recommend anyone thinking of using Countrywide demand to see a full breakdown of the mortgage arrangement fee BEFORE waiting for an appointment and sitting through a 2 hour meeting!
In addition to this highly unprofessional hidden fee, Countrywide have been consistently SLOW and have lost at least 2 separate documents that we have sent to them. In addition, it took them 2 weeks to provide us with a copy of our survey results, and we had to phone and ask several times before we actually received these.
More recently, a fax that we wanted to get sent to Countrywide's head office regarding our mortgage, they claim was not received (despite it being faxed to the correct number, as confirmed by the fax receipt we have) in fact I believe they 'lost' it when they received it. It was faxed AGAIN this morning and we were told that it will take approximately 3 days to get confirmation of receipt! In addition, the formal complaint I sent to head office regarding the hidden fee some 4 weeks ago has yet to receive a reply.
Suffice to say, I will definitely NOT ever use Countrywide again, nor will my friends and family and I would urge you to think carefully before doing so.
UPDATE: After 5 weeks I did receive a reply, and Countrywide have agreed to refund me this hidden fee.
These people mis-sold me an entirely unsuitable endowment policy through their financial advice service linked to their chain of estate agents (Mann and Co, Bairstow Eves etc). As the advice toook place before the introduction of the Financial Services Act which was introduced to curb commission greedy salesmen doing things like this, they refuse to even consider a complaint. Unlike some other large financial companies, they have also refused to voluntarily accept jurisdiction by the Financial Ombudsman, which means they can't help either. This seems to be a company that has no interest in acting responsibly towards its customers unless it is forced to do so by law. Avoid at all costs!
I joined Countrywide Assured Insurance Services back in July 1999. At the time I was a first time buyer and was looking for a competitive home contents rate to cover me for the first year. I had never heard of countrywide Assured but chose them because I had arranged my mortgage through one of their independent mortgage representatives and wanted something less complicated while I sorted myself out. Their home contents insurance is arranged by Guardian Insurance and is designed for people looking for contents cover at a competitive price, which was just what I needed. In order to get cover from Countrywide Assured you have to qualify all 6 requirements. These are: You require contents cover only for your home Your postcode area is where minimum security is required The home is self-contained The home is not lent, or sublet by you The home is your permanent place Only one home can be insured Being a first time buyer I obviously qualified. They worked out how much to insure my property by the number of bedrooms that I have. 1 bedroom is insured for £12,000, 2 beds £13,000, 3 beds £15,000, 4 beds £18,000 and 5 beds £22,000. The maximum they will insure a property for is £40,000 and accidental damage is unlimited. Nearer the renewal date I started to shop around and confirmed my worse fears that I was under insured by quite a lot. I was a bit concerned but as I saw it I was a first time buyer and had to furnish my flat, thankfully I didn’t have to make a claim. I was happy with the service Countrywide Assured provided but my needs had changed and the cover, which I originally opted for, was not sufficient for me any longer. I could have opted for a higher premium but did not see the need as I had found another lender who insured me for more and the monthly premiums were lower and they still gave me my 10% no claim bonus discount. Post Code areas where minimum security is required Countrywide Assured provides contents cover in the following UK areas. Not all postcodes are covered as they may feel a particular area is high-risk. To find out if your postcode is covered you can contact Customer Services on 01604 671188. London, Birmingham, Bradford, Bolton, Bristol, Croydon, Dartford, Enfield, Glasgow, Harrow, Ilford, Liverpool, Leicester, Leeds, Luton, Newcastle, Oldham, Paisley, Manchester, Romford, Sheffield, Stockport, Sunderland, Cleveland, Twickenham, Southall, Warrington, Wigan and Wolverhampton. Minimum Security Requirements A deadlock conforming to a minimum of British Standard 3621 fitted to the final exit door (main entrance) of the Home. Key operated security bolts fitted top and bottom to each leaf of all other external doors of the Home supplementing any existing locks. Key operated security locks incorporating securing bolts fitted to sliding patio doors. Key operated window locks fitted to all ground floor and other accessible windows and skylights forming part of the Home. Locks or padlocks fitted to all doors of domestic garages or outbuildings.