Looks like payday loan company Cigno has another angry customer.
“I can’t do anything about it, I just have to see my accounts being debited,” said client Blaise Giuliani. A current affair.
“I was going through financial problems. My partner and I had just moved to another city, we were applying for a job, we were right in the middle of a Centrelink application process, we didn’t have much or no income.”
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Desperate for cash, Giuliani said he borrowed $200 from Cigno.
According to his statement, he was required to repay $850.
“Stress is the big deal — it caused a tremendous amount of stress, obviously with my bank accounts and all the interest and fees that piled up,” Giuliani said.
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“I ended up splitting from my partner, so it’s been a painful process and a messy year.”
Cigno does not have an easily identifiable headquarters, the email address available on the website barely gets a response, and the phone number goes directly into a recorded message.
“Rest assured that Cigno will support you and do everything in our power to get through this together,” the recorded message reads.
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Now that feels ironic given the situation Giuliani says he’s in.
“I’ve contacted Cigno, I’ve sent them a bunch of emails over the last three months, I’ve tried calling them, I’ve tried texting them, and I couldn’t get through to them,” Giuliani said.
“I can’t access my account for some reason, so I can’t use the online portal. Basically, I’ve been clogged.”
Former debt collector and compliance expert Laurence Barlow said that in his opinion, the problem with payday lenders is that they are not regulated in the same way that a finance company is.
“There are a handful of payday lenders that are jacking up prices, like Cigno, causing real problems for the entire industry,” Barlow said.
“They require the consumer to sign a direct debit form that gives Cigno access to their bank account.
“The loan may have a term of six weeks, but (customers think), ‘I’m going to pay it off in a week’.
“They pay it off in a week and they think it’s all done, but what the payday lender does is continue to charge the consumer fees for the remaining term of the loan.
“Then the payday lender tries to take funds, it claws back, so you’re charged the fee and the bounce fee — before you know it, you have a cascading situation.”
a current affair he asked Barlow to look closely at Giuliani’s Cigno statement.
“It’s just unconscionable behavior. I think you’d need to hire a forensic accountant to look into this because it just doesn’t make sense,” Barlow said.
“It looks like they have a systematic error in the way they process it, or it’s being done deliberately to confuse the customer.”
a current affair contacted Cigno Loans for a statement and received this: “Unfortunately, we cannot find an account associated with this email address.”
“I think his business should be completely shut down,” Giuliani said.
“I don’t think they deserve to be in the business.”
Heartwarming results for those in dire straits
Australian wrestlers have contacted A Current Affair about everything from unfair bills to battles with bureaucracy in a last-ditch effort to get a fair shot and emerged victorious as a result.