£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

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - Jessica Investigates -

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.

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