“If you sign this” the nice lady from Northern Rock said to me, “then not only will this marvellous new financial product pay your mortgage off in 25 years time, but you’ll have enough money left over to go on a world cruise” she smiled, thought for a bit and then added, “Won’t that be nice ?”
I must admit, it did sound nice, the thought of not only paying off your mortgage but then going on a world cruise too, after all, I would be considerably older by then and would maybe look forward to the idea of going on a cruise with lots of other old people, no harm in checking though,
“Is the world cruise optional ?”
“Yes of course” she said, “you can spend the extra money on whatever you like”
I signed the endowment policy for my first mortgage in 1982, £9,400 it was for, if we still lived in that one bedroom flat I’d have had the world cruise in 2007 whether I wanted to or not, still, life would have been a tad cramped with four of us living in a two roomed flat…
The years passed and we moved house several times and took other loans for double glazing and suchlike and each time we took out another endowment policy and each time we did so the people in the building society smiled, licked their lips and got the forms out from under the desk, “You’ll have enough left over for…”
“Yes, I know, a world cruise” I’d reply
The world cruise line must have been part of the sales training course for those highwaymen and shysters who sold endowment policies through the 1980s and 90s, for they all used the line and having spoken to many other people who bought endowment policies it seems that they too were all promised shitloads of money left at the end of the policy, why, even enough to go on a world cruise.
No wonder theres so many fookin cruise ship companies all fighting for business these days, they must have been devastated to hear of the crash in the endowment policy market, what with ordering all those new cruise ships in anticipation of a massive surge in bookings anytime now.
Of course we all know what happened next, sometime in the early years of the 21st century the warning letters started to arrive on the doormats, “Dear homeowner” they all read, “Sorry but we fooked up bigtime and it looks like your world cruise might not happen” and then down at the bottom of the letter, “PS – we might not be able to pay off your mortgage either, we really fooked it up didn’t we, sorry and all that”
£46,000 worth of endowment policies I had at that time and what I didn’t need at that time was some pillock telling me that they’d fooked up and promised something they couldn’t deliver, worse still, the pillocks had the brass balls to suggest that the perfect solution to the problem was for me to take out yet another endowment policy to cover the endowments policies that they had fooked up on – or alternatively to just send them more money and they’d try and make up the difference – its like they actually believed that I was as stupid as they were.
At their suggestion I cashed in my endowment policies, they paid me what they said was the going rate for them and like the idiot that they honestly believed I was I accepted them at their word, after all these were huge UK investment companies, Legal & General, Friends Provident and the like, but twelve months later I got an unsolicited letter from a solicitor (can you get an unsolicited letter from a solicitor ?) informing me that maybe the insurance companies hadn’t been over generous in their compensation and if I just signed the letter then at no cost to myself this unsolicited solicitor would sue the arse off these companies.
So I did, and they did, and I got some more money out of the endowment insurance companies, and that should have underlined one big lesson in life to me – don’t trust the fookers, don’t trust anyone who asks for your money and makes promises of riches beyond your wildest dreams, no matter how big the company, no matter how upstanding and trustworthy they seem to be, no matter how much they smile and promise you a world cruise, DON’T TRUST THE BASTARDS.
And then, I bought some pensions…