The number of hire purchase complaints to the financial ombudsman grew 64% in the past year, according to the service.

In its annual review, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) said it had recorded 5,029 complaints about HP agreements for 2016/2017, up from 3,072 such complaints for the previous year.

The ombudsman highlighted personal contract purchase (PCP) as another area where they had received an increased number of complaints, however were unable to provide an exact number in this regard.

The ombudsman said some people had told them they hadn’t known exactly how things would work out at the end of the contract.

Mileage woes

In one example provided, the FOS said: “Mrs F contacted us after being charged over £600 for excess mileage at the end of the [PCP] agreement. The finance company said she’d exceeded her annual limit of 7,000 miles.

“But Mrs F told us she’d made clear she’d be driving up to 10,000 miles a year for work and leisure.

“Having looked at the paper work and records of discussions from when the car was sold to Mrs F, we decided the limit hadn’t made it clear enough to her.

“Given her commute alone was around 6,500 miles a year, we thought it was unlikely she’d have agreed to a limit of 7,000 miles if she’d known about it.”

In this instance, the Financial Ombudsman Service decided that the terms of the agreement had not been made sufficiently clear to the claimant.

Other car-related complaints included complaints about the battery lives of hybrid vehicles. The ombudsman said: “We heard from drivers who’d bought hybrid cars on finance – who were disappointed at how long their batteries were lasting.

“This year we once again saw trends in what people were buying – and how they were doing so – reflected in the problems people brought to us.”