Questions of Cash: The Independent

Q.  To improve my credit status I have been advised to close unused credit card accounts and reduce the spending limits on live card accounts.  I am trying to close an old Santander credit card account, but this is proving impossible.  My account is £4.53 in credit and has not been used for years.  I have phoned Santander several times, usually holding for 10 to 20 minutes because the lines are so busy.   Santander told me I had to go to a branch with two forms of proof of identity and then it would close my account.  When I went to my branch I was told the staff had never heard of this procedure.  I refused to leave until staff spoke to their head office: after 30 minutes all had apparently been resolved.  But afterwards another account statement arrived, still showing the account as open and with a credit balance.  I again phoned Santander, which told me it could not close the account until I spent the credit balance of £4.53.  But I have previously cut the card in two and do not have a record of the security number.  This is daft.  KY, Yorkshire.


A.  Santander says: “Unfortunately, an administrative error led to the card being blocked, instead of closed, which caused the delay.”  It has now arranged with you to donate the credit balance to a charity of your choice – World Vision.  It has also sent you a goodwill payment of £40 to apologise for the problems you experienced.


Q.  I have a current account with Santander and use its ‘Premium Banking’ phone line.  Using this line, I closed my existing ISA in December 2009 and transferred the balance to a new ISA, paying a higher rate of interest.  As before, I mandated £60 per month to be transferred from my current account into my new ISA.  Ever since then, £60 has been taken from my current account, but returned to it with nothing going into my ISA.   So I am neither saving nor earning any interest.  I have repeatedly requested Santander to sort out this glitch.  On one occasion I was told the problem had been passed to Santander’s IT department to resolve.  A letter I sent in April has not been answered.  MH, London.


A.  The terms and conditions of the ISA you opened specify that you are not permitted to pay into the account by standing order.  But Santander accepts that it failed to explain this to you when you set-up the standing order.  In our opinion, Santander should also have noticed this on all the other occasions that you subsequently contacted the bank seeking to resolve the matter.  Santander apologises and has credited your ISA with £55, which more than covers your lost interest.  However, you will have to find another means of making payments into this account.


Q.  I opened an account with Halifax 15 years ago.   I recently read in The Independent that Halifax has a children’s savings account paying 6 per cent for regular savers.  I called by telephone and completed an application for this.  I was asked to contact my local branch with documents, including a birth certificate of my six year old son.  But when I visited the branch I was told that I had to provide the ‘long’ birth certificate showing his mother and father’s name, or my son’s passport.  I explained that the passport does not show the parents’ name and Halifax’s letter did not say it needed the long certificate.  But the bank’s employee refused to process the application.  I sent a letter of complaint to the branch.  It is now more than eight weeks later and I have not had a reply.  My son is very keen to have his own passbook and keeps asking if it has been delivered.  ZN, London.

A.  Halifax says that the shortened version of the birth certificate should have been accepted by the branch.  A member of staff misunderstood the bank’s requirements: the branch manager and staff have been given clarification of Halifax’s procedures to avoid the situation recurring.  A payment of £50 is being credited to your current account as an apology. 

Q.  In January I purchased an iRiver Story e-book from for £179.99.  In March, the screen went blank.  I tried to contact, but it has a 28 day returns policy because they are in Jersey.  I did not know this when ordering, assuming I had UK rights.  I therefore contacted iRiver, seeking to return this under warranty.  It sent me an address in Germany with a return authorisation number to put in the address at the top.  I sent it at a cost of £12.00, insured for £200.  After a week I contacted iRiver because I had heard nothing.  It asked me for a copy of the postage receipts, which I scanned and emailed.  It then told me I had sent it to their ‘old address’ – but this was the specific address iRiver had emailed me the week before.  The company said it was sorry and would contact me if it ever arrives – but I have heard nothing more.  BM, Birmingham.


A. does accept returns after 28 days where goods are faulty and the company says that it complies fully with UK law in terms of consumer rights.  It is reviewing its website to make its returns policy more explicit.  The company has now sent you a replacement e-reader, plus a refund of £13 to cover your postage costs.  It will discuss with iRiver the problems you experienced.


Q.  I am a university student and subscribed to Virgin Media broadband from the beginning of the academic year.  The broadband never worked.  I want a refund of the line rental and installation costs.  CR, Manchester. 


A.  Virgin Media has investigated your complaint and concludes that you used the wrong login details.  On this basis, Virgin Media declines to refund the installation or broadband rental fee.  It is sending you £10: the amount you overpaid your account.


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