Money above ethics: the big U-turn

2016 Beagles Money

Looks like the Beagles saved the best for last! The new LB Compare site is now up and running, together with Twitter accounts and all that goes with it, and it’s not just solicitors and law firms they are comparing. It would be perfectly fine if they offered that kind of comparison site, many people are lost when it comes to finding a solicitor and many are afraid of extortionate fees and poor service. Being able to compare various firms and, potentially, reviews, could be useful for the consumer. It is a fact that you can only go so far on forums, when things get complicated, you need professional help, and forums are often very reluctant to admit this fact. Referring people to legal professionals is highly frowned upon by forums and a reason to get banned, especially when there is some sort of connection between the legal professional and the forum member.

devil stirring pot of cashSleeping with the enemy

Comparing legal services is one thing, however, the site in question also features the types of businesses that have been hated and vilified by all consumer forums: Claims Management Companies (CMCs) and Debt Management Companies (DMP providers). Some DMP providers are free, and these are also mentioned on this site, but these are also very well known by all and one hardly has to go to a comparison site to find them, however, there are also a number of fee-charging Debt Management companies (DMP providers) mentioned on the site.

Where are their ethics?

Ever since its inception in 2007, Legal Beagles fought against CMCs and made a point of telling people not to pay for something they could do themselves. Similarly, they made a point of saying that there was absolutely no need to use a fee-charging debt management company when there were a few free ones around and you can also manage your own DMP. That’s what consumer sites like Legal Beagles were meant to do: empower people with the knowledge to manage their own affairs without having to pay fees to others.

Compare this

Post on the Celame website

Heartache, as savings pots to pay off creditors go missing

Debt management is big business. But far from solving problems, clients of one firm face losing thousands more.

Tracy fears she has lost as much as £11,000, while Steve believes £7,000 of his cash has gone. They are among hundreds – or potentially thousands – of people worried they have been left out of pocket after a debt management firm collapsed into administration with half a million pounds of customers’ money apparently missing.

Bournes Debt Solutions, based in Manchester, is the latest in a line of debt management companies to hit the buffers. It’s a case that graphically highlights the hazards of letting such firms look after large sums of cash, which they are supposed to pass on to people’s creditors to settle their debts.

Entries on the new LB Compare site

ClearDebt – Debt Management Plan

Charges: Monthly fee 17.625% (subject to a minimum fee of £30.00) If you paid £200 per month to your DMP over 12 months this plan would cost you £423

Gregory Pennington Debt Management Plan

Charges 18.5% of each monthly payment, subject to a minimum of £38.50 and a maximum of £90. If you paid £200 per month to your DMP over 12 months this plan would cost you £462.

The Debt Advisor – Debt Management Plan

Charges: 50% of payments for first six months, 17.5% thereafter. If you paid £200 per month to your DMP over 12 months this plan would cost you £810.

For those who don’t know, Celame is the limited company set up to monetise Legal Beagles two years ago.

So debt management companies far from solving problems, can leave you with a big loss, yet Legal Beagles are directly promoting them.

Have you got PPI?

Having got rid of the PPI specialists in the Big Cull of 2014, the Beagles are now offering a Claims Management Company comparison site. For many years, PPI reclaims were the bread and butter of Legal Beagles and the reason many people, particularly those without bad credit or debt problems, joined the site. In common with most other consumer sites, Legal Beagles always made a point of telling people “Why pay for something you can do yourself?” and encouraging them to do their own reclaiming with the help of the long-extinct PPI Working Group.

The PPI Group worked tirelessly to produce sophisticated spreadsheets to ensure that posters didn’t just get anything, they got everything they were entitled to. At the same time, the site also helped many who got shafted by CMCs who were not always transparent or required up-front fees even if no redress was obtained. Now they are encouraging people to use the very same companies they once fought.

Where are their ethics?

25 Comments

  1. BillK says:

    Errrm – you’ll have to ask Shaz that, D. But first you will have to find her – she hides under many stones, as do the rest of the LB crew. Perhaps Jennifer is yet another such stone.

    Alas, I can only answer your question with yet another question. What IS it that they are hiding from ? Are they scared of Allsorts – surely not ? But if not – then what are they so scared of that they daren’t show themselves ? If what is being said here about them were untrue – then why are they not taking up the standing invitation to come here and put the record straight ?

    Methinks the beagles are showing their true nature now, and hiding under stones is not helping to cover anything up. “The unspeakable in pursuit of the indefensible” is how I see it, I’m afraid. They have nothing to say in their defence – hence the silence. Their strategy is instead to attempt to silence their accusers.

    Call us stupid if you like, but we’re still here, and we’re not hiding like cowards.

  2. grimreaper says:

    Its interesting to read some of this material about LB Compare. I expect a number of us here will remember a certain infamous website by the name of “Solicitors from Hell”. Closed down by a Law Society action in the High Court for telling the truth. Now re-incarnated in a different form but elusive. To my certain knowledge one of the solicitors accredited by LB Compare (tenor top C) worked for a practice which appeared under more than one heading on that site. But there you go.

    • Legaleaglet says:

      The Truth Hurts, that’s a fact. There is little point in having review and comparison sites if only positive reviews can be posted. I think I remember the Solicitors from Hell site. The practice in question may well have cleaned up their act since they were featured on the site in question, hence the need for up-to-date reviews. After all, Legal Beagles itself has changed considerably over the years. Everything changes, sometimes for the better, others for the worse.

  3. BillK says:

    Well, isn’t that a thought, GR ?

    I wonder what the Law Society might make of LBcompare…

    • Legaleaglet says:

      I don’t think the Law Society would have any problem with it as it stands. With Solicitors from Hell, the probably only took action after receiving complaints from the firms featured on that site. The firms in question could have taken action for defamation, unless of course the allegations made were true.

  4. grimreaper says:

    I didn’t follow it all that closely after the shut down. my understanding of it was that there had been complaints from a number of firms to the Law Society and I think it was someone called Hudson in his role as CEO? of the Law Society that brought the action seeking injunctions to bring it to a close. It is interesting to note that not one single law firm actually brought an action for defamation and a number who had complained about the site refused to be party to the action in the High Court.  It must be left to someone’s own judgement as to why this was the case. A simple “Google” search reveals that the ethos remains alive and kicking under new ownership in a number of places and the original owner has won a set aside decision in at least one case against him personally. The only thing that is being asked that is different as far as I can see is that you do not name a solicitor personally only the practice.

    • Legaleaglet says:

      I guess there is always a place for a “Hall of Shame” dedicated to a certain profession or service. However, that’s not quite the same as a true review and comparison site where both good and bad reviews can be posted. I see there’s still a website of that name telling the story and have found the other site where you are not allowed to name solicitors, only firms. No idea why, since that’s not likely to do the firms much good, not when the firm as a whole is named and shamed. Large firms have a lot of fee earners and many practice areas, some may be better than others.

      Although some people may be very grateful for the help they’ve received and leave a positive review, there is always more of an incentive to leave a bad one when something has gone wrong. I wonder how LB Compare will be approaching the subject when it comes to rating and reviewing their own panel.

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