Case study of getting tracker back from Ulster Bank


Frequent Poster
Took out mortgage with Ulster Bank in mid 2006. U-First Flexible Mortgage with a tracker rate of ECB plus 0.85%.
Fixed for 2 years at end of 2006.

Upon expiry of fixed rate in November 2008, we received options forms with no mention of tracker rate. As it had been in the media about the removal of tracker rates, we accepted that this was no longer available to us and automatically rolled onto a Standard Variable Rate. At the end of 2009, we then fixed again for 3 years due to rising interest rates. This rate expired in 2012 and we received options letters and took a rate of Standard Variable less 0.65% (due to having U-First Account).

In February 2013, a friend of ours discovered that he should have been offered the tracker rate at the end of his fixed rate - as this was in a similar time frame and exact same mortgage, we looked into the issue and realised that we never signed anything 'giving up' our tracker rate and should have been offered this back in 2008.

February 2013 - Sent Letter to Ulster Bank requesting that we be placed back on the tracker rate with effect from end of 2008 and all overpayments be refunded to us.

March 2013 - Received two letters saying they were investigating our case and would be back to us within two weeks.

April 2013 - Received Final Response Letter stating that they could see why we 'thought' we would be entitled to go back onto the tracker rate and as a once off offer, they were offering us the tracker rate back from end of 2008 to end of 2009 however as we fixed again in 2009 and signed a Fixed Rate Agreement which stated that we would go back onto the Standard Variable Rate, they felt there was no error by the bank.

April 2013 - sent reply back to Ulster Bank refusing their offer and asking them to reconsider. Our main argument was that any decisions we made in 2009 were based on the misinformation given to us in 2008 and therefore was irrelevant. We would never have fixed again in 2009 had we been offered the tracker in 2008. At that stage already, the difference in payments between Tracker and the Fixed Rate we went onto was about 450 euro each month. Told Bank that we would be going to the Financial Services Ombudsman. Heard nothing back from the bank...

April 2013 - sent complaint to the FSO. Received email about a week later confirming a few points about the complaint - main point being that we did not sign anything waiving our right to the tracker and the Fixed Rate Agreement Form we signed stated that we would return to the Ulster Bank Home Loan Rate as per terms and conditions of our mortgage agreement (being a tracker mortgage)
Mid-August 2013 - Received Letter from FSO saying that they had sent a letter to UB outlining our complaint and they had 20 working days to respond.
Early September - Received Letter from Ulster Bank saying that they had requested permission from the FSO to try to resolve the matter directly with us.

They offered us the tracker back from end of 2008 and stated that their would be amounts due to us which would take 20 working days to calculate. We had to sign a form to go back onto the tracker and they also offered a goodwill amount of 500e and we had to sign a form accepting this.
October 2013 - Mortgage Rate changed back to Tracker of ECB plus 0.85%

It took until December to get figures in writing and a lot of very stressful phone calls to get to this point. They did not make it easy at all. Finally in mid-December we received our funds back and case is now closed. This part of the process was unnecessarily slow and difficult and there was absolutely no need for it at this point when everything had been agreed.

Brendan Burgess


That really is great news - as you say, no more than you deserve.

Is there any chance that you would document, in a sort of diary, form what you had to do, and what defences they put up.

It seems that you had to go to the Ombudsman. It's outrageous that they force everyone to the Ombudsman, knowing that some people are disorganised and won't pursue it to completion. And in other cases, UB will get a random favourable judgment from the Ombudsman.



Frequent Poster
And in other cases, UB will get a random favourable judgment from the Ombudsman.
It's not random, they have a 7 in 8 chance of the ombudsman giving the bank a favourable judgment. That's without statistics for those who fail due to other reasons, such as not in the time limit or those who give up.

Karolina well done, that's great news for you.

Brendan Burgess

Karolina kindly agreed to set out her case in diary format, so that it might inform and inspire others. I have replaced her initial post, with her "diary".

A few points to note here.

1) If Karolina had accepted the one year offer, would she have lost her right to her tracker?

2) It seems like a bizarre letter from UB telling her that they could see why she "thought" she might have a case.