Questions of Cash: ‘Abbey failed me on fraud: The Independent

Posted on March 7, 2009 · Posted in The Independent

Q. On 10 November £15,000 was transferred from my account to another account that was nothing to do with me. On the same day, £11,980 was paid from my account to a “Barbara”. This was also not sanctioned by me. Both transactions were conducted online and were fraudulent. I spoke to the fraud section of my bank, Abbey, which informed me the money would be replaced in seven to 14 days. I was told the bank would block all further online access to my account. But on 12 November, the day after my conversation with Abbey, another fraudulent withdrawal of £9,971 was made to “Visnovs”. I again phoned Abbey, which this time did close down internet access to my account. On 24 November, I phoned for a progress update and was told a fraud case had only been set up on 18 November, because an increase in fraudulent transactions meant the bank was behind with all enquiries and refunds. Further calls requesting the bank’s fraud staff to phone me were ignored. I have now been owed the lost money for over nine weeks. SB, Buckinghamshire.

 

A. Abbey accepts that “our response to rectifying [the reader’s] account after she had been a victim of fraud was unacceptable”. The stolen money has been restored to your account, interest that would have been earned on it has been credited, as has a £55 gesture of goodwill. Given the extent of Abbey’s failure, this is not particularly generous. However, you have accepted it and will not pursue the matter further. You say that following your complaint to us, Abbey’s customer service staff were efficient and friendly in resolving your problems, unlike the staff in the fraud section, who you suggest were overworked and “out of their depth”. You are now moving your accounts away from Abbey and wish to have nothing further to do with the bank.

Q. I hope you can expedite a refund due to me from Opodo with whom I booked flights to Bangkok in February last year, but which were cancelled shortly before I was due to fly in November because of the airport’s closure. I corresponded with Opodo in November seeking a refund and made a formal complaint to them in February this year, when the refund had still not arrived. The original booking cost me £945 and replacement tickets cost me £1,500. Opodo says refunds can take three months. I do not think it is acceptable that someone is sitting with nearly £1,000 of my money for so long. I have not had any response from Opodo to my recent communications. SB, Bath.

A. You paid for the flights using a Lloyds TSB credit card. Given the failure of Opodo to respond to your complaints, we requested Lloyds TSB (as it then was) to charge back the transaction against Opodo. We copied Opodo into our correspondence. While Lloyds TSB were investigating this, Opodo credited your credit card with £927 – the cost of the original booking, less the fee imposed by Opodo for the transaction being conducted by credit card. You believe that as the transaction was not cancelled by you that you should not have to pay the card handling fee. The Lloyds Group (as it now is) points out that it does not normally process a chargeback fee for an amount less than £100 and that in a dispute of this kind a customer must resolve matters with the trader. Unfortunately Opodo has failed to respond to your communications or ours. You have indicated that you will not use Opodo again – and we can understand why.

Q. I have had a problem with my Pipex Homecall account since last summer. Originally, we had two phone lines to our house provided by Pipex Homecall, one of which had broadband. In May last year our phone and broadband service went down. After numerous calls to Pipex, BT Openreach finally attended. They were unable to find a fault and said they may have to dig up the whole road, but after spending two days working on the line outside they decided the fault was not with their equipment. I then closed this account with Pipex as we could still use the other phone line. In July last year we were charged £85 as a “miscellaneous item”. When I queried this, Pipex told me the fault was with our equipment. I said I did not accept this. I am still owed this £85, plus another £16.77 which was charged on my final bill, taken by direct debit, but which was incorrect. I also overpaid after the second line was cancelled. SW, by email.

A. Pipex is now owned by Tiscali, which says that the fault was with BT’s line. It passed on to you an £85 charge made to them by BT Openreach, but is refunding this and promises to refund all other overcharges. You have now received a cheque for £16.77, with a promise of a further £85.

Q. I signed up to the AA last year for driving lessons. The first two lessons seemed to go well, after which the instructor persuaded me to pay him directly in cash, instead of paying the AA. I then paid in advance for seven driving lessons – £155 in cash. But ever since, the instructor has given me a variety of excuses for cancelling lessons – bad road conditions, bad weather, an appointment with a doctor, visiting relatives, ill health, etc. I am still owed two lessons and his cancellations have caused me to unnecessarily miss job interviews and to be challenged at work about my absences. AO, London.

A.The AA’s driving instructors are franchisees, rather than employees. Your instructor is now having his franchise reviewed by the AA in the light of your experience. Following contact with him by the AA, the instructor has repaid the money that he owed you and has accepted that he let you down. You have now arranged to take lessons elsewhere.

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But if you have a financial dilemma, we’ll do our best to help. Please email us at: questionsofcash@independent.co.uk