Embarrassed into action – lousy PR?

Stephanie Meehan - Priory Hall

Stephanie Meehan’s partner, Fiachra took his own life in July of this year.

The Meehan family were amongst the many innocent victims of the whole Priory Hall fiasco and it looks like Fiachra finally succumbed to all of the pressure including being out of their home for two years and insane pressure from their bank.

Stephanie resorted to letters to our political leaders and then to the media, who thankfully were listening and highlighted her plight.

She courageously told her story last Friday night on TV to a huge national licence (RTE – Late Late show).

I was enraged that she was told not to name the offending bank – this brave woman had lost her husband, she was still out of her home, she was still being hounded by the bank and nothing was being done to sort it and we wanted her to be silent!

I have no doubt that in our politically correct and litigious world naming the offending bank on national TV was too big a risk – why are we protecting such heartless, careless and cruel corporations in favour of the plight of Stephanie and so many others?

Who is more important?

I vented my frustration on twitter along with throngs of other tweeters.

Thankfully within minutes social media took over and did the job of naming the offending bank on Stephanie’s behalf. It appeared from the various people posting on Twitter that the bank was KBC bank.

KBC BankClick here to see what is stated on the KBC bank website about “Managing your debt” including a helpful video delivered by a very pleasant young woman.

Their website states:

At KBC Bank Ireland plc, we understand that the current economic environment presents challenges for many of our customers. We would like to assure you that we are fully committed to working with customers who are experiencing financial difficulty in a positive manner. If your financial situation has changed recently or you are concerned about your finances, we would encourage you to contact us as soon as possible

You could see that there was a nervousness with the people tweeting – were they sure it was KBC bank?  A few tweeters privately started confirming this information and in no time it seemed certain and people were now tweeting with confidence.

Once the Late Late show was over, the audience prizes given out and we all went about our weekend routines I wondered what would happen with Stephanie, Priory Hall and the offending bank.

The Irish Times confirmed this morning that KBC have said “it would not pursue Ms Meehan for any balance on her mortgage“, despite sending her a letter on August 28th (two weeks ago) highlighting arrears plus interest due!

It said it was doing so: “given the specific circumstances of this tragic case

Were the “specific circumstances” the awful human tragedy or was it the media heat and extreme embarrassment that they were uncomfortably experiencing?

At least KBC bank could throw resources at the problem the minute they started to feel a little uncomfortable – poor Stephanie and Fiachra had no such release valve.

This was the very least they could do but it leaves their reputation in tatters.

If they are genuinely sorry about what happened and want to live up to the promises on their website they should hold their hands up, apologise sincerely and promise that they will review all of their debt collection procedures and provide training and strict criteria to all personnel involved in this process so that this type of tragedy would never happen again.

StephanieWell done

Builders and InspectorsDisgraceful

KBC (and all the other banks behaving the same) – Shame on you

All of us – Start making some noise


Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion 

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2 Responses to “Embarrassed into action – lousy PR?”

  1. Brigid Says:

    Glad I read this. I was considering opening a business account with KBC. Needless to say I have cancelled that appointment. Thanks for this article Greg.

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