Questions of Cash – March 2016

Posted on March 29, 2016 · Posted in The Independent

Q. We have held current accounts with HSBC, Barclays and Lloyds for more than 30 years.  We sold a lot of household furniture and antiques for cash and have about £15,000 to pay into our accounts.  But we are concerned that the banks may not accept this, because of money laundering regulations.  We do not have any records for the transactions.  Can you find out the situation for us please.  GE, by email.

A. The Financial Conduct Authority requires banks to have “adequate policies and procedures sufficient to counter the risk that they might be used to further financial crime”.  In addition, banks must “identify and monitor customer relationships including the understanding of the nature and purpose of that business relationship”.  In effect, this is a requirement for banks to ‘know their customers’ and to be confident their customers are not using accounts to receive the proceeds of crime.  There is no specific limit on cash receipts imposed by the FCA.  So the attitude of the banks will be based on their prior knowledge of you and their relationship with you.  We spoke with Barclays, which indicated that its response would vary according to the type of account you hold and your prior history in relation to the receipt of large sums.  It confirmed that your lack of records to explain the cash receipts is a potential problem.  Barclays is unable to provide clear guidance on its position specifically because that could assist criminals who are trying to money launder.  HSBC said simply: “We don’t have restrictions for how much customers can deposit in their accounts.”

Lloyds did not answer.  It would have been better had you kept records of your transactions.  If you bought items with the purpose of trading them, and made a profit on this trade, you may need to declare this to HMRC and pay tax on the profits.

Q. I was asked to pay a surcharge for using a debit card when paying a holiday deposit for my daughter with GVI World.  I thought new EU legislation prevented traders imposing surcharges. ZG, by email.

A. The new rules banning surcharges on debit and credit cards do not come into effect in the UK until January 2018.  Visa Europe told us that the current position in the UK is that all cards can be surcharged, so long as this is in accordance with The Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012, which prohibit merchants from charging more than their direct costs for using cards.  The Interchange Fee Regulation 2015 caps the fees paid between banks for the acceptance of debit and credit card transactions. The Revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) will, from January 2018 in the UK, prohibit surcharges on cards regulated under the Interchange Fee Regulation – this does not cover some commercial cards. A spokesman for Visa Europe added that the company is opposed to surcharges, which discourage consumers from paying for goods and services by debit and credit cards. GVI World says that it holds down the costs it charges to customers.

Q. In January I bought from Thomas Cook two tickets to fly to Lanzarote in June.  The flight was £379.96 and the total cost – including extras for selected seats, food and luggage – was £527.96.  But when the paperwork came through the extras were shown on a separate invoice.  And the only payment taken from my account was £379.96, for the flights, despite the invoice for the extras showing this has all been paid.  We are afraid that when we get to the airport we will be told that no extras have been booked.  We have tried several times to contact Thomas Cook, by online chats and by calling in its high street branch, but have got nowhere.  AH, by email.

A. Thomas Cook apologises for a systems error and confirms the extras have been booked.  Its spokeswoman adds: “As [the reader] is a repeat customer who travels to Lanzarote four times a year, we offered £150 discount from the [next] flight booking and she was delighted.”

Q. I’m trying to obtain compensation for a delayed flight.  My partner and I returned from holiday in Sarajevo to Manchester last September with Austrian Airlines, with a connection at Vienna.  Departure from Sarajevo was delayed by nearly three hours, we missed our connection, got diverted via Heathrow and eventually arrived at Manchester 7 hours 35 minutes late.  I emailed a complaint to Austrian Airlines, but have heard nothing.  I emailed again and received no reply.  AW, Stockport.

A. As you booked through Lufthansa, we took the matter up with them and it referred the issue to Austrian Airlines. As a result, you have now received compensation from Austrian Airlines of nearly £600 – which was more than you paid for the flights. A spokesman for Austrian Airlines said: “We apologize for the inconvenience caused by a flight irregularity on September 26th, last year. Furthermore, we offered an applicable compensation according to EC regulations without prejudice.”

 

  1. I booked flights and accommodation in November last year through Expedia to Mauritius, leaving at the end of this month. My kids are 12 and 14 and Emirates are now refunding the Air Passenger Duty on these flights, but if you’ve booked through a travel company then Emirates say to get the refund through them. I have emailed Expedia several times and they seem to have no idea what I am talking about. LM, Hampshire.

 

  1. The government removed Air Passenger Duty on flights for children aged over 12 but under 16 from the beginning of March. A spokesman for Expedia confirmed that it will arrange for you to be refunded.  He added:”We are aware of the changes to UK Air Passenger Duty for children aged 12 – 15 years old, and we are actively working with our air partners on the refund process, in order to support customers who are eligible for an APD refund. We will ensure that our customer service agents are fully briefed in order to assist customers on APD queries.”