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BrightHouse debt questions answered

14/04/2020

Over the past few months, escalating numbers of compensation claims, store closures, and finally, the coronavirus outbreak, have resulted in the permanent closure of the UK’s biggest rent-to-own retailer, BrightHouse.

Many of the company’s 200,000 customers will be left wondering where that leaves them. You may have questions about whether you need to keep up with your payments or what it could mean if you have an outstanding compensation claim. Here’s everything we know so far…

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Who are BrightHouse?

BrightHouse was a high street payment retailer that offered consumers the option to pay for their furniture, appliances and other household goods via ‘rent-to-own’ agreements. These agreements would usually split payments down into small weekly amounts, but with the addition of high-interest charges.

Although BrightHouse afforded customers and those with a low credit rating a way to quickly buy aspirational brands like Sony, Nokia and Whirlpool, their interest rates were as high as 99.9% APR on some purchases.

This meant the overall cost of products bought through BrightHouse agreements would usually add up to much more in the end than their outright cost.

The business had 240 retail points across the UK, 2,400 employees and an estimated 200,000 existing customers when it went into administration.

Are BrightHouse closing down?

Yes, BrightHouse has officially gone into administration, which means all their stores have closed, and they will stop trading indefinitely. Customers won’t be able to make any new purchases from the retailer, in-store or online. Nor will they be able to visit any BrightHouse outlets to make their regular payments.

There have been signs BrightHouse was in trouble for some time. In 2017, the firm was branded an ‘irresponsible lender’ by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), in part for failing to honour cancellations during the 14-day cooling-off period that is the right of every consumer.

The affordability of BrightHouse agreements has also come under scrutiny in the past, with a combination of high-interest rates and long payment terms resulting in goods costing several times more than their outright value.

Do I need to pay my BrightHouse debt?

It’s bad news for anyone hoping to have their BrightHouse debts written off. Unfortunately, even though the firm has gone under, existing agreements will still need to be paid in full, and the terms and conditions of those agreements will stand.

As part of the administration announcement on its website, BrightHouse has confirmed: “All outstanding rent-to-own and cash loans remain subject to the terms agreed with CFL and customers should continue to make payments in the usual way according to the company’s terms and conditions.”

Can BrightHouse debt affect my credit rating?

If you’re keeping to your agreement with BrightHouse and making regular payments to clear your balance, you shouldn’t see any negative effects on your credit rating. In fact, if you are able to consistently pay towards your agreement, this could even give your credit rating a boost, depending on your current score.

However, as with most financial agreements, missed or late payments will cast a shadow over your credit score in the eyes of future lenders, so it’s best to take all possible action to keep up with any payments due.

How do I make my BrightHouse bill payments?

Although the company’s 240 stores have closed their doors to the public, there’s still a variety of options available to customers who need to make their weekly payment.

You can pay over the phone, register to pay via the company’s text service, visit the BrightHouse website and set up a debit payment, or visit your local Paypoint location to pay in cash (if it’s still open during lockdown).

You can view and read more about the full list of currently available payment methods here.

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What if I’m struggling to make BrightHouse payments because of the coronavirus outbreak?

BrightHouse is making allowances for those who’ve been affected financially by the COVID-19 outbreak. They’ve advised that if you’re struggling to pay your BrightHouse balance, you can get in touch online via their contact page, or you can ring them directly on 0800 526 069 (select option 2). It’s worth bearing in mind that they are experiencing a lot of calls. In the interim, they’ve also introduced several measures to help ease the strain on customers waiting to get in touch about their payments, pledging:

  • They won’t charge late fees.
  • They won’t add interest to any late payments.
  • You won’t lose the use of your product.

For the time being, all existing customers will still be able to access their account information online at brighthouse.co.uk.

I think I’ve been mis-sold a BrightHouse agreement

If you’ve had a successful claim for being mis-sold a BrightHouse product, you’ll be added to the list of people that BrightHouse owes money to (its creditors) once your claim has been verified by the administrators of the company.

Once the firm has been dissolved, you may receive some, all, or none of the money due; it depends how much is left once the firm has realised its assets and paid the money due to its secured creditors.

If you have any other kind of complaint about your agreement, you can still contact the company directly via their contact page. If you’re enquiring about any sort of affordability claim, BrightHouse advise on their website that “the joint administrators will be in touch in due course if you are required to submit a claim.”

What if I need to make a claim on my BrightCare warranty?

Grant Thornton UK LLP, the administrators of BrightHouse, have assured customers that “Servicing, warranties and insurance claims will continue to be provided by the logistics and engineering business operated by CTL until further notice.”

If you’ve taken out an insurance policy with BrightHouse or an extended warranty to protect your products, you can still make a claim for theft, loss or damage via their online claim form, or by calling their customer relations team on 0800 526 069. You can also view the full terms and conditions at this link.

If you’re concerned about debt during the coronavirus outbreak and feel like your money worries are getting out of hand, we’re here to listen and offer professional debt solutions. To speak to one of the Creditfix team call us on 0808 253 3299.

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