£123,000 is returned to readers by Abbey
Many readers complain that the financial institutions that are keen to take their money are less willing to answer legitimate questions. Sometimes the power of the press, in the shape of Jessica GorstWilliams, can help
AS JOINT executors of our father’s estate, my sister and I sent a deed of probate to Abbey to release just under £50,000 from four accounts. That was three months ago.
I was told there was a 10week backlog due to pressure of work and lack of staff. Then, at 10 weeks, we received a claim form requesting another deed of probate and our witnessed signatures. This was returned to Abbey three weeks ago. I received £50 in full and final settlement but I did not want it. The office dealing with probate matters does not even answer emails. My father has been dead for six months and Abbey has had the benefit of the money for all that time.
CH, Birmingham. MY FATHER died over five months ago, leaving – among other savings – £21,000 in an Abbey account. I provided Abbey with a copy of his death certificate and a sealed copy of the grant of probate six weeks ago. During this time I have contacted the Abbey probate office, my local bank and the Abbey complaints office on innumerable occasions. I am, however, no clearer as to when the payment from this account will be made. Nor have I been given any assurance that my request is in the work pile awaiting action.
IS, Cheadle, Cheshire. CAN you help me with the seemingly simple matter of closing what used to be an account I held with my sister? It was purely to deal with transactions concerning a small flat we purchased jointly and rented out. Sadly, my sister died two-and-a-half years ago and I presented her death certificate to Abbey quite soon afterwards. Following probate, my brother-in-law and I sold the flat and confirmed cancellation of a monthly standing order to the company which serviced the flat.
GC, Waterlooville, Hants. THESE are just a sample of the letters I have received regarding probate and bereavement difficulties at Abbey – despite a boast made to me some weeks ago by a senior person at Abbey that measures were in place to prevent such problems.
Along with the others I have helped over this issue, CH tried tirelessly to sort out things herself before seeking this column’s help. Only now have funds totalling nearly £50,000 been released. To add salt to the wounds of all this, Abbey failed to send the £250 promised for goodwill and earmarked by CH for charity until I prompted the bank to actually despatch it.
On the day I contacted Abbey, IS’s late father’s £21,000 was released, the account closed and £150 paid as a goodwill gesture.
Elsewhere, RH of Exeter had been attempting to close his late uncle’s bond account for two months. After three letters of complaint and numerous visits to the branch, he informed Abbey that, if the account wasn’t closed within the next week he would write to me. Still nothing was done; so he did as he had said. Ten days after I contacted Abbey, I understand the £51,987 at issue was transferred by CHAPS, Clearing House Automated Payment Service, to where it should be. A cheque for £220 which includes a refund of the £20 CHAPS fee has also been sent.
After struggling for more than two years to close her late sister’s account, GC believed she had succeeded. Then she received a cheque book in her sister’s name. Shortly afterwards a statement arrived revealing that two £40 standing order payments had been wrongly paid out. The result was an unauthorised overdraft situation and letters from debt management. It now transpires that Abbey had thought it was GC who had died rather than her sister. All charges relating to this error have been refunded and the account closed. £250 has been paid for goodwill.
The total sum of money returned as a result of this column’s involvement for these cases alone amounts to £123,000 with £870 distributed for goodwill.
Abbey really must address these issues seriously rather than adding to the problems of people who are already having a difficult time.
£3,000 recovered from black hole
FOUR months ago, I requested the transfer of my Intelligent Finance cash individual savings account (ISA) to my existing Halifax cash ISA via a Halifax transfer form. Shortly afterwards, I received a letter from the Halifax confirming the request of funds from my existing provider. From then on, despite many many telephone calls, the funds have still not been transferred. Halifax denies receiving the cheque from Intelligent Finance and the latter insists it has sent it to Halifax, which has cashed it.
PL, Cheshire. THIS £3,449 seemed to have fallen into a black hole between two parties, both of which are part of the Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) Group. When I approached them Intelligent Finance replied quickly with the exact time it had issued the £3,449 cheque to Halifax along with evidence that, 12 days after that, Halifax had indeed cashed it. To ensure you do not lose any interest, the culprit here – Halifax – has now backdated the account to the day before the cheque was issued. In recognition of its poor service a cheque for £100 has also been sent to you. After this I could not establish whether you were happy with this outcome because your answering machine was not working and you were always out. You say you did not think to write, as you were so relieved it was all over you wanted to put it behind you.
To the rescue – for a second time
IN 2003 you did me the great kindness of rescuing me from the hole I had dug myself into over loans I had entered into with Alliance & Leicester. You explained to the bank that age and ill health made more than a nominal monthly payment of £10 beyond my means. Fortunately for me, it accepted your proposals. Over the next three-and-a-half years this sum was duly withdrawn from my account but now I need your help again.
FT, Herts. THREE months before you wrote to me the bank contacted you to say it needed a new breakdown of your financial circumstances and you had to fill in a form. You say the form never arrived but you did inform it by telephone that your circumstances had not altered substantially.
However, you now receive state pension plus pension credit instead of the benefits you got before. You say you heard nothing more until the bank informed you that, as you had not made an acceptable new proposal for the repayment of the loan, your account would be passed on to a debt collection agency. When that happened, you were threatened with court action. 34 monthly payments of £359 were demanded to clear the debt.
Your monthly income is £515 with average outgoings of £495 so this demand was impossible and frightening.
I was really disappointed to learn that, after all the trouble I took first time round, the agreed £10 monthly repayments had not always been met on time. Also, the bank tells me it had requested details of your income and expenditure several times. This cannot have come as too much of a surprise as, at the time the arrangement was set up, it was made clear that there would be reviews. Do bear in mind that, once upon a time, you had use of money which the bank trusted you to pay back. From the bank’s point of view, sending in debt recovery agents is unlikely to be worth its while. You are not a home owner and there isn’t much likelihood of your situation changing. Alliance & Leicester has now restored the £10 arrangement. Harsh though you may think me, I feel it is fair to warn you that, if you approach me about this matter a third time, I may not be inclined to step in again. So, keep up your payments and your paperwork.
Remember that, if you cannot fill in the form yourself, there are advice centres which will help you.
Payout over foreign draft charges
FROM time to time I send foreign drafts overseas. Halifax used to charge £5. Then it was £6. This week, I sent one for over £50. This cost me £15 and does not seem right.
MC, Lancs. HALIFAX says it costs it £15 to provide a foreign draft. However, it recognises that customers often need to send small amounts, so it charges on a tiered basis. The reduced £6 fee is for drafts up to but not exceeding £50. £15 is for drafts of £50.01 and above. Because you are a longstanding customer – and as a result of my involvement – your account was credited with £25. When I rang some weeks later, to see if you had received this money – because, as happens in so many instances, you had not come back to me to let me know – you said you thought it was too little to write in about. You added you could assure me, if it had been £25,000, you would have written the day after. Given that it was tiny sums you had been quibbling over, this reasoning does not really bear scrutiny.
Goodwill payment on the cards
I AM having terrible trouble over a chargecard. £59.99 was erroneously taken away by the store. I did not know about this and, when I spent £49.95 using my card, I expected it to be in credit. A £15 monthly charge and interest for non-payment are being added bringing the current bill to £98.18.
TM, Kidderminster. TWO years ago a technical error in the store led to a refund coming back off your card some six weeks after it had been returned to it. GE Money is merely the card provider and so has been caught in the middle over this. Even so it has written off the outstanding amount and sent £20 for goodwill.
Money received at long last
I RECEIVED a cheque from Co-operative Insurance Services (CIS) for £29.90 but cannot cash it because it is made out in two names. The house is divided into two flats. I am on the ground floor. Therefore I pay the premium in joint names as the other person has a mortgage. This person has given her approval for the cheque to be made payable to me only. CIS knows we do not have a combined account and keeps saying the matter has been dealt with. CIS has also now agreed to waive the excess on this claim which means the sum owed is now £54.90. Even so, I have been trying now for over three months to get this cheque made out properly.
JR, Watford, Herts. SEVERAL times the insurer correctly inputted your name as the only one to feature on the cheque. However, by the time the process was completed, the second name had always been added automatically. In the light of this case, the system is being changed. At last you have your £54.90.
Because of the volume of mail received, it is not possible to respond to every letter and correspondence cannot be entered into. Please do not send original documents or stamped and addressed envelopes. Responsibility, legal or otherwise, for answers given cannot be accepted. Cases currently with an ombudsman, going through a court of law or sent to other columns will not be considered.
In addition I cannot take up issues when the writer is a third party, other than in exceptional circumstances.
I cannot respond to e-mails. A full postal address, a signature and daytime telephone number are needed. Please address letters to: Jessica, Your Money, The Daily Telegraph, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT.