Questions Of Cash: ‘Abbey keeps charging me for their mistakes’
By Paul Gosling
Saturday, 20 September 2008
Q. My salary is paid into my bank account on the 15th of each month. My mortgage lender, Abbey, has changed the collection date on my mortgage to the 14th of the month. Abbey says it changed the collection date when I took out an additional loan on my mortgage account 16 months ago – but there is no way I would have agreed to this. In May, the direct debit was refused because funds were not available. Abbey then took the mortgage payment 10 days later. Abbey levied a £32 administration charge on my account and told me to send a cheque to cover this. It has agreed to change my mortgage collection date, but will charge extra interest of about £30 for doing so. It has refused to waive the £32 administration charge and says I cannot get a one month holiday on repayments to get my finances into order. I have had a mortgage with Abbey for 14 years and had never before missed a payment. I now want to move my mortgage, but I am worried this incident will affect my credit rating. AM, London.
A. Abbey insists it changed the mortgage collection date last year, when you extended the size of your loan, but has not made any changes since then. This is disputed by you. Abbey has reimbursed the £32 charge as a goodwill gesture because it regards you as a valued customer, while stressing – in its opinion – it has done nothing wrong. It has also changed the mortgage withdrawal date to the 15th of each month without charge. There will not be a negative entry on your credit file relating to this problem.
Q. I keep receiving letters from Barclays saying my graduate loan account is in arrears, which it is not. I can’t get Barclays to take any notice of my complaints. SB, Andover.
A. When Barclays set-up your graduate loan for £4,400, it set the wrong interest rate on the account. The loan had been sanctioned and notified to you at 7.775 per cent, but was being charged at 20 per cent. This has now been corrected and the account is no longer shown as in arrears. Barclays apologises for the error and for failing to stop its recovery action when you complained. It has sent you flowers to say sorry and credited your account with £50 to cover your costs from phone calls seeking to resolve the problem.
Q. I applied to open an Alliance & Leicester Issue 4 ISA, paying 6.5 per cent, on 14 April, transferring £3,600 from another account. On 15 May, the application was rejected as “incorrect or incomplete”, without saying why, and I was instructed to reapply. On 22 May, I visited my branch, which said it would resubmit my application and added that A&L was struggling with the high number of ISA applications. On 9 June, I was phoned to say the application was now out of date. So I gave up. JH, Harrogate.
A. Alliance & Leicester admits it has been unable to cope with the volume of applications for this ISA. In your case, it was unable to process the application and submit it for approval to HM Revenue & Customs within the 30-day deadline. Your A&L branch mistakenly then resubmitted your original application, instead of obtaining a new one from you. Consequently, the balance in the opened account has earned interest at 4.8 per cent, instead of the 6.5 per cent it should have earned. When you complained direct to A&L in September, it offered you £50 in compensation, which it has now increased to £75. It says that if you still want an A&L ISA it will ensure that your opening date is backdated to 14 April with no loss of interest.
Q. I am having problems with the latest Airmiles Duo cards. My new card was due to operate from the start of August, but it would not accept my PIN and it locked me out. Initially when I complained, I was asked whether I had forgotten my PIN, but then I was told there had been problems with several of these new cards and customers were getting upset. IA, Chesterfield.
A. Lloyds TSB apologises and says: “This was an isolated problem that affected a very small number of our customers.”
Q. The media has repeatedly said the winter fuel payments are for “pensioners” – in other words, men must be over 65. But I now find out it is for people over 60, which means I missed out on three years’ winter fuel payments – £600 that I badly need. I cannot claim retrospectively, but what are my chances of claiming the money in the small claims court? NB, London.
A. The Department of Work & Pensions says it made absolutely clear in its publications that eligibility for the winter fuel payments is for any household containing an individual aged 60 or over. It cannot be held responsible for errors by the media, or misunderstandings by people who assume they are not eligible. The lesson is always to check the terms of schemes. It is difficult to see any grounds for a legal challenge unless you can find that the DWP or its Pensions Service have wrongly represented the criteria for eligibility. DWP says it has not made any such mistake. DWP also confirms that there are no grounds for backdated claims.
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