Without having even met the surgeon, at your first sales consultation, if you say you can’t afford the cost of surgery, Optical Express will set you up with a Hitachi Capital Personal Finance agreement as fast as you can blink - 'blink' coincidentally the name of the eye drops you're highly likely to need after laser eye surgery!
Hitachi are fully aware of what’s going on but have proven that they don’t give a damn so long as they get your money...
I contacted Hitachi in early 2014 and explained how many people were suffering problems with Optical Express, and suggested they might want to reconsider their contract with the company. Naive perhaps, but worth a try!
Surprisingly, Hitachi’s Head of Customer Services Chris Mellor assured me that they did want to work with me to help their damaged customers, some in litigation yet still paying off their Hitachi loans as I'd explained.
A number of amicable discussions followed and he even set up a 'third party authorisation form’ for my clients (their customers) so that I could represent them.
In June 2014 Chris wrote, 'Let me re-assure you that we are taking these customers circumstances very seriously and we want to work with you to a conclusion for them as soon as possible.’
On 16 July, his colleague Jo Lockwood told me that Chris was speaking with Tweedles via telephone that day, and 'once he has the up to date position from him we will then be in a position to touch base with you.’
My promising relationship with Hitachi then fall apart!
The following excerpts are from Chris’ email to me dated 16 September 2014:
"I recently visited the head office of Optical Express to meet the Clinical Services Director in person [Stephen Hannan aka Tweedles] and I am satisfied that Optical Express is dealing with customer complaints promptly and fairly, on a case-by-case basis and in a manner which meets the requirements of the Financial Conduct Authority...
3 customers have been offered further treatment free of charge. (This can be provided at a different clinic and/or by a different surgeon from the original clinic/surgeon and, following my visit to Optical Express, I am satisfied that Optical Express only offers such treatment as a remedy where its opthalmologists advise that this should be of benefit to the customer)...
I understand that the remaining complaints from customers who have nominated you as their representative were received in July and August and are in the course of being dealt with...
I hope that the above helps assure you that Hitachi Capital is committed to ensuring that its customer complaints are resolved in a fair and reasonable manner, in a way that is right for each individual customer. We remain of the view that this outcome can be best achieved by continuing to work with Optical Express, as detailed above, without putting customers to the time and cost involved in Court proceedings. We are in any event mindful of our duties to try and resolve complaints without the need for litigation, a duty that applies to all potential parties to litigation. That said, I appreciate that there may still be some customers who despite our best efforts, decide that they want to commence proceedings regardless. That is a matter for them."
I'm guessing that OE treated Chris Mellor to a very expensive 'meal' during his visit to Glasgow!
See 26 Oct 2014 post, 'Time to go after Hitachi!'
If I remember correctly, as a result of my endeavours, only three people were eventually refunded by Hitachi, who decided it was more profitable to continue to collaborate with OE!
I trust Hitachi are paying close attention, because here's the conundrum...
For argument’s sake, imagine that Optical Express go out of business in January. What then happens to the thousands of people still entitled to aftercare, and to those left with problems in need of treatment?
Will Hitachi cover the costs of aftercare for the OE patients who signed up with them, pay for post op medical treatment, and/or cancel the finance agreements and refund everyone's money?
And if they refuse to do any of these things, could Hitachi Personal Finance then be sued by the thousands of people (hypothetically) left high and dry?
I guess we’ll have to wait just a wee bit longer to find out
Had an email from Hitachi Finance saying they have dismissed my case.
Attached was a letter from a Mr Stephen Hannan, full of lies, saying how every risk was explained to me - not once but three times! Bullsh*t. How I missed an appointment for Yag laser, you can't miss an appointment if you have cancelled it.
I have fired an email back to Hitachi Finance but I presume once they have dismissed your case you are stuffed.
Having read my previous post you will now appreciate that Hitachi totally support Optical Express, NOT their unhappy customers!
This leaves you with the option of complaining to the Financial Ombudsman, or seeking a full refund from Hitachi via the Money Claim Online and/or 'small claims court'.
NB: The claim must be made within 6 years from date of surgery (sale).
I appreciate that some people can find the process quite daunting, which is why I offered to help (post 26 Oct 2014 @ 14:33). However, the numbers of people contacting me are staggeringly high and it is impossible for me to help each one individually.
Earlier this week I explained the problem to lawyers and discussed the possibility of a 'Class action'.
Subject: "Hitachi Class Action".
NB: Even if you have previously contacted me re Hitachi I ask that you do so again to ensure I don’t leave you out, because I am swamped with emails and don’t have time to sort through history
I have e-mailed Hitachi finance to complain about the state of my vision since having lens replacement, I asked for them to please pass on my e-mail to the relevant person, I have not had a reply as yet.