Questions of Cash: The Independent

Q.  I have serious difficulties with The Co-operative Bank.  I have power of attorney on behalf of my husband for whom I opened a bank account in 2007.  I have had to supply the power of attorney documents three times to The Co-operative Bank.  I am still awaiting a debit card for this account.  I opened another account with the bank in 2009, instructing the bank to transfer all credit balances, direct debts and standing orders from my previous bank.  We have yet to receive any statements of account, or debit card.  Instead I have two debit cards for which the account numbers do not correspond with any account held by my husband or myself.  I also have a cheque book and a debit card in my husband’s name, which needs to be in my name.  Two accounts that I thought had been closed are still open.  And the bank has not arranged as instructed to transfer pension and investment income from one Co-op Bank account to another.  I have had to employ a personal assistant to untangle this mess and I expect the bank to compensate me for this.  LR, London.


A.  The Co-operative Bank accepts that it took an unacceptable time to open one of your accounts.  It claims that your previous bank failed to provide documentation in reasonable time, but accepts that it should have acted more quickly itself in chasing up the paperwork.  It apologises for this and the confusion relating to your attempts to open another account, on which you had intended a power of attorney to be registered.  It agrees that its service was also unacceptable in requiring the power of attorney documentation on three occasions.  The Co-operative Bank has agreed to pay you £200 as compensation for its service failures.  It will also refund you on a goodwill basis £9.50, the monthly subscription for a privilege account which you state you had instructed it to close, but for which the bank says it cannot find any such instruction.   The bank has refused to pay you the costs you are claiming for the employment of a personal assistant.  You have decided to accept the offer on the grounds that you are not confident that the Financial Ombudsman would increase the compensation.


Q.  In 2005 my wife and I obtained £1,500 compension for a mis-sold Abbey endowment.  A financial advisor suggested we kept the endowment running as bonuses kicked-in towards the end of the investment term, which would yield a better figure on maturity than if we sold it. Although we have paid-off our mortgage, we continued our monthly payments as life cover and a possible nest egg for our children. The latest forecasts assume a final sum of only £12,000 on maturity and the trend is continually downwards. If this continues we will have put more into the product than we will get out. What should we do?  JB, by email.

A.  Danny Cox, a financial advisor at Hargreaves Lansdown, says: “In my view paying more money into this is throwing good after bad. The with-profits fund they are in is a closed zombie fund and the prospects for decent terminal bonuses are very poor. They would be much better to either use the premiums to pay down capital, or fund an ISA. Cashing-in now might incur penalties or market value reductions, but dependent on these would still be worth considering.”  Colin Jackson of Baronworth advisors – specialists in selling endowments – says: “If I were this person, I would have another crack at selling the policy to see if I could get better than the surrender value.  If I could not, I would surrender the policy and cut my losses.”


Q.  You secured refunds from easyJet for other travellers (see recent Questions of Cash columns).  On 10 January I purchased return flights from Gatwick to Bodrum for £415.51.  On 17 February I received an email from easyJet saying the return flight had been cancelled.  I could re-book on another flight at no cost, or obtain a refund.  We had booked accommodation and there was no other easyJet flight returning on the same day, so I booked two seats on a Thomas Cook flight from Bodrum to Gatwick for £327.65.  I then submitted a refund request to easyJet for the cancelled return flight.  A few minutes later I received a second email from easyJet informing me that our return flight had not been cancelled and that the previous email had been sent due to a technical error.  Since then I have been unsuccessfully trying to get a refund.   EasyJet has never denied it wrongly informed me that the flight had been cancelled, but initially maintained that as this was a mistake on their part they were not liable for the financial consequences.  I am now told that I am only entitled to a credit note for the amount of the ‘cancelled’ easyJet flight.  This is unacceptable, but emails and recorded delivery emails have been ignored, apart from one email saying they they assume the matter has been resolved to my satisfaction – which clearly it has not.  JP, Whitstable.

A.  You were one of the many passengers to receive an email incorrectly advising that easyJet flights were cancelled.  An easyJet spokeswoman explains:  “In February we had emailed a number of passengers whose flights had been rescheduled, we also mistakenly sent this email to passengers on a few flights that had NOT been cancelled. We realised our mistake and quickly send out a correction email. Obviously this was too late for this passenger who made alternative arrangements. As this was our mistake we will refund the additional cost incurred and this refund had been approved.  However, as the credit card used to make the booking had expired this was set aside for a special communication. Unfortunately this was subsquently overlooked.  EasyJet apologies for the confusion caused and this unacceptable error and have contacted the passenger to arrange payment.”

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