Old Mutual compensates couple after ‘misleading’ online information

Technology-Tablet-Tech-Computer-500x320.jpgOld Mutual Wealth must compensate a couple after showing incorrect information on its website that led them to believe they could not move their money out of certain under-performing funds.

The couple, Mr and Mrs F, made a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service about Old Mutual Wealth Life Assurance saying its website wrongly claimed investors could not switch their money between funds after a plan was “made paid-up”.

They had finished paying the premiums on their plan in 2014 and said the “misleading” information on Old Mutual Wealth’s website led to them staying in under-performing funds longer than they would have.

The couple complained that Old Mutual Wealth refused to amend the website or pay compensation for the error.

The FOS decision says Old Mutual Wealth admitted it had not updated its website and that one of its staff had given the couple misleading information on their first call. The provider said investors had been able to switch funds since the RDR was introduced.

It said it sent out a letter in 2012 informing them of the change but acknowledged that because of the misleading information, Mr and Mrs F had not indicated they wanted to move their money and had been deterred from moving.

The couple was offered £30 compensation.

The FOS adjudicator did not think the complaint should be upheld. However, the complaint was then referred to ombudsman Tony Moss who did uphold the complaint.

The decision says: “I don’t believe that sending out a letter to investors some years ago prevented the potential damage in continuing to keep wrong information on the website. Firstly, until an investor’s plan is made paid-up it is unlikely this issue will be of interest or require their detailed intention.”

It says: “So for those whose policies were made paid-up sometime after receiving the general announcement, it’s unlikely that they’d be looking for this information from old correspondence. They’d be far more likely to check the current online information.”

Moss instructed Old Mutual Wealth to pay the couple £250 compensation for distress and inconvenience.

Old Mutual Wealth confirms the information has now been changed on its website.

A spokeswoman says: “The plan is one where switching is only possible through a paper-based process. We regret this was not made as clear as possible through our online customer centre. This oversight has now been resolved.”