|>>|| No. 5705
Disclosure requirements back then weren't what they are now. Many people do not understand financial matters beyond cash deposits, or in some cases have a little knowledge which can be more dangerous than having none at all, so if they go to a bank and are shown the high levels of returns at the time and told that a mortgage will definitely be paid off by the endowment then they will be suckered in.
I can't think of any type of investment vehicle which hasn't been missold. When personal pensions were introduced in the late 80s, which were less restrictive than the previous retirement annuity contracts, there was widespread misselling which led to over a million people being told to take one out instead of joining their employer's final salary scheme.
That being said, people do not help themselves. Research into annuities shows that many people know they will get a much better deal if they shop around but they can't be arsed and accept a poor deal from their existing pension provider. With endowments people have been warned about their shortfalls for years, so it shouldn't be a nasty last minute surprise to anyone.