Questions of Cash – November 2013

Q. My husband and I have reached the full-term on our mortgage.  We thought this would be a chance to relax and feel that we have completed the purchase of our home.  Instead we are stuck between a rock and a hard place! Scottish Widows have our money from our endowment policy, while Lloyds Bank has the debt. However, they seem incapable of talking to each other to facilitate the transfer of funds to complete the circle! Any ideas on how we can resolve this before Lloyds sends the bailiffs in?  CC, Cornwall.


A. What makes your situation particularly strange is that Scottish Widows is part of the Lloyds Banking Group.  The good news is that you can now rest easy – Lloyds has completed the transaction, apologised for the mix-up and you have accepted their offer of a goodwill gesture of £300.  A spokesman for Lloyds says: “In this instance, the service [the readers] received was below the standards we strive to offer and we are sorry for the inconvenience that this delay has caused. We have now resolved this, allowing the funds from [the readers’] endowment to be applied to their mortgage account. In addition, we have arranged for a payment to be credited to [the readers’ account] in recognition of the service they received whilst trying to resolve this matter and for the unacceptable delay.”


Q. Both my wife and I had Post Office Loyalty Bonds Issue 12, which matured in October whilst we were away. Before departing I contacted Post Office Savings and asked if our savings could be transferred to our joint bank account when the bonds matured and was told the request must be made after the bonds had matured.  On our return we had letters from the Post Office informing: “We’ve transferred your savings to your new Easy Saver”. We contacted the Post Office on 2 November and requested our Easy Saver accounts to be closed and the savings transferred to our bank account. The assistant eventually informed our requests had been authorised and our savings would be in our bank after five working days.  But the savings were not in our bank on 8 November, so I contacted the Post Office again.  I was informed that my wife’s transfer was processed on 5 November and so should have been in our bank account, but that my transfer request had not yet been processed.  I was very annoyed as the money was required urgently to settle outstanding bills and so I spoke to a manager.  He repeated that I would have to wait for my money, but my wife should have hers in our account. I then lodged a complaint, which has not been acknowledged.  We have now had the embarrassment of having taken out loans from family members who we must reimburse for any losses on interest on their savings.  Could you expedite our payments?  NB, West Midlands.


A.  The transfer has now taken place, but the Post Office disputes your version of events.   A spokesman for the Post Office says:  “We would like to apologise to [the reader and his wife] for the problems encountered when retrieving the funds from their Post Office Loyalty Bond account and any issues this may have caused. We can confirm that we have now spoken with the customer and confirmed we transferred the funds on 12 November.”  But he adds: “[The reader] made calls to our customer care team on 2 October and 2 November.  However, he did not make any enquiries about adding a nominated account before maturity of the funds. On the latter call, [the reader] was informed of the five working day freeze which would be applied to the account following the addition of these details, with the agent confirming the transfer would take place on 12 November. [The reader’s wife] was also informed of the transfer date on this call.  We will continue to investigate the matter and work with [the reader and his wife] to come to a satisfactory solution.”


Q.  A few months ago, I found that my grandparents’ grave in the General Cemetery in Luton had been so substantially damaged that the cause must have been a very large vehicle.  After making inquires I found that an articulated lorry had been driven round the perimeter of the cemetery.  Our family’s grave was the only one damaged.  I have twice written to Luton Council’s chief executive asking it to pay for the repair costs and erect modifications to the cemetery entrance to prevent a repetition, but I have not had a reply.  JB, Luton.


A.  Luton Council apologises for the situation and for its failure to respond promptly.  It says that its investigations concluded that the lorry was driven by a “third party” and not by a person employed by or connected to the council.  It says that the cemetery’s conditions specify that it is the owner of the grave, not the council, that is responsible for the upkeep of the grave.  “We should point out that the owner of the exclusive rights to the grave is responsible for its upkeep, which includes making good any damage – this is outlined in the paperwork granting permission for the construction of a memorial,” says a spokeswoman.  However, the council has now passed the matter on to its insurers, Zurich, to investigate and to determine whether it is liable to meet the costs of repair given the circumstances.  We will contact Zurich to pursue the matter further and may take independent advice, so this is not the end of the matter.  Zurich will contact you regarding the investigation.  A spokeswoman for the council says that it is not practical to place additional physical restrictions at the entrance of the cemetery. She explains: “The cemetery has very attractive and ornate entrance gates, but as these are located in one of the town’s conservation areas, it is unlikely the introduction of a height restriction barrier or bollards as [the reader] suggests would be permitted.”

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