Search Agents massive bad debt burden

The Association of Independent Personal Search Agents (IPSA) has today completed a partial survey of its members in relation to their combined burden of bad debt. The survey has revealed the amount IPSA members have written-off since the introduction of Home Information Packs due to non-payment, liquidation, alleged fraudulent trading and improper business conduct.

Christian Lister, IPSA Chairman is shocked by the results, he commented; ‘The results are horrific especially when the majority of the debt instigators were PCCB registered or members of a hip trade association displaying the HIP Code logo. Allowing for the fact that these are only interim figures* with some members yet to finalise their losses the total number could well exceed seven figures. These institutions set industry standards and are there to give the consumer confidence in the quality of the product they are purchasing.’

Home Information Pack providers are at the frontline in dealing with consumers, mostly taking payment for goods up-front. ‘Some of these companies have left a trail of destruction in their wake,’ stated IPSA member Steve Davies. He continued: ‘As search agents we are required to pay for Professional Indemnity Insurance as protection for all consumers using our services. All of these failed HIP companies have left their suppliers with hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of unpaid bills, which raises the issue of the title of goods being called into question.’

The auditable figure of £779,561.30* if divided by the average cost of a member’s search fee would mean that insurers have not passed title on these unpaid goods, leaving an estimated 7796 Local Authority Searches within Home Information Packs uninsured.

‘This is a consumer’s worst nightmare,’ said Christian, ‘and I believe the PCCB and hip trade associations must now stand on their key message of consumer protection and investigate the implications of this to the general public at large. I will not accept that this situation is, as one trade association Director is reported to have remarked ‘it’s just business’. It’s almost criminal and something must be done.”

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