Questions of Cash: February 2015

Q.  I have a good friend living in Ukraine, who I have known for over ten years and meet occasionally.  She was recently displaced from Lugansk in Eastern Ukraine, owing to the antics of drunken, armed pro-Russian separatists closing and robbing stores and assaulting people.  She was forced to move to Dnipropetrovsk, where her family do not know anyone and she is searching for employment. I tried to make a transfer to her by Moneygram, which I have done regularly in the past months.  I sent her £200, for which I paid a fee of £9.99, rather more than before to help cover her rent and other basic expenses.  When I returned home I received a call from Moneygram saying it was “uncomfortable” with “people like me” sending money to Ukraine. I was told that a smaller transfer would also not be accepted, nor would any future payments.  I received a refund of my transfer, but this was scarcely the point.  The refund placed me in the ridiculous position of filling out a form to send money to myself and then being told to go home for my passport to prove my own identity, having attempted to send the money just two hours earlier through the very same people present in the office.  JR, Cardiff.

A.  Moneygram is not changing its mind on this.  A spokeswoman says: “The transaction in question was held for review. The customer was interviewed and upon further investigation it was determined that he could potentially be a victim of a scam. MoneyGram stopped the transaction to prevent a potential loss to the consumer.”  You remain angry, saying: “While I think it’s ok for Moneygram to alert me to the possibility of a ‘scam’, I don’t think that it’s ok for Moneygram to decide how I want to spend my money when I am firmly of a mind to help in this appalling situation.  Does Moneygram think that the serious fighting in Eastern Ukraine is some sort of scam?”  You were able to complete the transfer using

Q.  I am trying to obtain compensation from BT for my 78 and 82 year old parents who have received appalling treatment.  My parents were cold called by BT, who persuaded them to transfer their phone account to them from TalkTalk.  But the line transfer did not take place as promised, leaving them without a phone for several weeks, during which time the family and care providers could not contact them.  My parents spent weeks trying to resolve this, leaving them extremely stressed and anxious.  I have since spent weeks trying to obtain suitable restitution, but to no avail.  To add insult, I was offered £50 by a customer care operative, which I said was insufficient – and then the offer was withdrawn.  I was promised a call from a manager to resolve the matter, but he did not phone me.  VR, by email.

A.  A spokesman for BT responds: “We have apologised to [the reader] for the poor customer service and problems that her parents have had. We have credited £83.97 to her parents’ account as a goodwill gesture.”

Q.  I have received two e-mails purporting to come from i-tunes. I have an i-tunes account, but rarely use it. The e-mails concern an order supposedly placed in my name. I am asked to click on a link if I have concerns that the transaction is fraudulent. This seems like a phishing exercise – if I fill in the requested details they can spend money on my credit card. IA, by email.

A. This is indeed a very widespread ‘phishing’ exercise, with fraudsters trying to access details of your bank account. Careful examination of the sender’s email address is likely to show that it is not connected to i-tunes. You should not open the email and definitely not complete any attached or linked forms. Apple requests that all such fraudulent emails are forwarded to them at

Q.  I worked for several years for Winterflood Securities, a subsidiary of Close Brothers. I subscribed to two share saving schemes, one maturing in December 2014 and one in December 2015.  When I retired from the company in 2012, Computershare, which runs the sharesave schemes, wrote to me with a ‘leaver’s pack’.  On the reverse of one of the sheets of paper was a notice that the final date for exercising my option changed with my leaving the company to six months after my leaving date.  Unfortunately I did not see this.  I contacted Computershare in January to find out what my options were and was told that all my options had lapsed.  I have missed out big time as the shares have always produced a good return.  Is there anything I can do?  DS, by email.
A.  A spokesman for Close Brothers says: “We have taken the matter up with Computershare who administer the scheme, and after a thorough investigation, we are satisfied that they provided the correct information to [the reader] at the right time and that he was treated in the same way as any other leaver.”  A spokeswoman for Computershare adds:  “While we of course sympathise with [the reader], I’ve taken a look through the paperwork and it is clear from the correspondence that he was provided with all the correct information in timely fashion and importantly, was treated no differently to any other leaver.”  The spokeswoman adds that the relevant information was not only in the leaver’s pack, but also featured twice in the frequently asked questions sectionk for leavers on the website.   She continues: “We are not allowed to offer advice to Sharesave participants or shareholders, so even if they ask, our response has to be to tell them to seek independent advice, which is what we would have done had [the reader] sought our opinion….  There are no circumstances under which we are permitted to guess the decision of the investor.”

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