Questions of Cash: October 2014

Q. We are customers of Barclays by default, having been with the Woolwich Building Society [which was bought by Barclays in 2000]. We are retired and our monthly income consists of five pensions and three investments – a total of more than £3,380. We do not like to be overdrawn and had an overdraft facility of £1,000, which is more than adequate. We planned to go on holiday this summer for nearly two and a half weeks at a campsite in Cornwall where there is no internet connection and it is difficult to get a mobile phone signal. I always pay our Mint credit card bill online and have the payment details set-up on our Barclays internet banking system.  In the past, I have been away when the payment is due and I have tried to set-up the payment arrangements in advance. When I returned from our last holiday I found that the bill had not been paid.  When I rang Mint, it agreed not to charge a late payment fee as we always pay in full on the due date.  I did not want this worry again so I decided to pay in advance.  I tried to make the payment this way three times on one day and on three occasions it failed.  The next day it took two attempts before the payment was processed.  I posted an online feedback to Barclays as a complaint.  While on holiday I received mobile messages saying the complaint was being dealt with.  I was then phoned and offered £50 compensation if it was agreed that this would be the end of the matter.  I said no, as this did not solve the problem.  The offer was repeated, so I agreed.  I then had a message to say that the complaint had been dealt with.  We continued on holiday, but our debit card was rejected when we tried to make a payment.  I then had a message to say that unless I paid £41.35 into our account by 2pm that day there would be a daily charge of £8.  The nearby branch of Barclays closed at 3.30pm and we could not get there earlier than this.  I do not have a smart phone and there was no way of getting cash into my account.  Two days later we went to a Barclays branch, explained the situation and the teller said there was no problem with our account, so we were given the cash we asked for.  Five days later we had access to wifi and found a message from the TV licence authority to say that our standing order had been rejected and to contact them with further instructions.  I managed to get a mobile phone signal and phoned Barclays and was told that three standing orders and a cheque had been rejected.  I asked about the current situation as we have an overdraft facility and I was told there was no evidence on the system of there being an overdraft facility in place, but that we had £800 in our current account!  On our return we found four letters from Barclays saying that payments had been refused and a letter explaining about simpler overdrafts and how to avoid fees!  The bank statement for the period shows £216.13 in credit and no sign of being overdrawn at any time.  SM, Bedford.

A. Barclays has agreed not to impose any penalty charges on your account. But it seems that the underlying issue here is that while you refer to a £1,000 overdraft facility being in place, Barclays provides a very different statement of fact. It says that you applied for the overdraft prior to the holiday and this was only put in place while you were away.  Barclays’ spokesman explains: “at the time this occurred, the customers did not previously have an overdraft. When this facility was offered, the customers felt they had sufficient cleared funds to meet their due payments and would consider the overdraft facility upon their return from holiday in Cornwall.”  Consequently, the initial payments that were processed during your holiday made you overdrawn.  Barclays says: “it would appear that with the combination of the bank holiday and [a] regular payment due to be paid days after, the customer did not have sufficient funds in the account.”  The spokesman adds: “When the customers exceeded the funds available on their account, we did indeed resolve the issue in light of their previous good conduct.  We provide a free text alert service that informs customers when they are approaching their limits to allow them to transfer funds into the account to avoid any unpaid items.” The £50 goodwill payment related to the problems making the payment to your Mint credit card bill and has been applied to your current account.

Q. I booked a car rental with Hertz for a trip to Spain and Portugal. I added a second driver to the rental request, but this was not processes by Hertz. I have gout which makes it very difficult for me to drive.  Hertz apologised, added the second driver, but told me to collect the revised contract from a Hertz office.  This is impossible as Hertz does not have an office anywhere that I am visiting.  When my wife phoned to discuss this with Hertz, she was told nothing could be done.  GM, by email.

A. Hertz says that your complaint “has been investigated and resolved by the relevant teams”.   Its spokeswoman explains: “We have contacted [the reader] to gave him a detailed explanation of why the second driver was not included in his rental. We apologised for not having offered him a clear answer when he contacted us the first time – that would have avoided the entire situation, as well as for the distress this caused him. We informed the customer that a full case review will be carried out with all employees involved and that the cost of his rental has been refunded. Additionally, extra Gold Plus Rewards points have been added to his member account.”

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