Questions of Cash: The Independent

Q.  On 24 May my debit card was used in a wine shop in London SE1 for a transaction of £480.  I was in possession of my card at this date and time, nowhere near London SE1 and know nothing about this transaction.  I complained to my bank, HSBC – which has repeatedly told me that ‘this was a transaction that was signed for’.  I initially thought this was in my favour, as it proves I had not revealed my PIN number to a third party and it is surely unusual for a debit card transaction to use a signature.  It is also a large transaction for what seems to be a small retailer.  But HSBC now says that the transaction consisted of a £450 purchase and a £30 cashback.  Apparently because there was a cashback element, HSBC has no responsibility for the fraud and refuses to help me further – even on the £450 element that is not cashback.  This has cost me my last £500 after volunteering in Costa Rica helping conserve sea turtles.  JC, London.


A.  HSBC accepts it got this wrong.  A spokeswoman for the bank says: “We did make a mistake.  This was not correctly assessed.  It was not put through as a potential fraud, which is why [the reader] was given the wrong information.  It is human error.”  HSBC has now reimbursed you with the full £480 and will seek to recover the loss from the retailer.  It also apologises.


Q.  I recently had to travel during the day from Eastbourne to London for a funeral.  I was unsure of the route the lead car would take, so I went online two nights before and paid the £8 congestion charge. A few weeks later I received a demand from Transport for London for non-payment of the charge, a threat of prosecution and an increase in fine if I didn’t pay.  I phoned the number on the letter and got an unhelpful response saying that no enquiries could be dealt with over the phone and I would have to write in. I was told that the system was foolproof and that I must have made a mistake on the date or the registration number – nonsense!  I photocopied my bank statement showing the £8 debit. Afterwards I received another letter asking for full details of the debit card I had used.  I then had to provide the reference number for my payment.  I have not heard from TfL since. SR, Rayleigh.


A.  Transport for London insists you made an error when you inputted your car registration number – you used the letter ‘O’ instead of the number ‘0’.  But it does apologise for the delay in handling your enquiries.  It is writing to you to confirm the cancellation of the Penalty Charge Notice. 


Q.  I opened two cash ISAs – both fixed rate, at 4.4 per cent, for three years – with Nationwide on 25 March.  One was for myself and the other for my husband.  I completed the forms in my local branch, instructing Nationwide to transfer all the money from our four Abbey ISAs – two reward ISAs and two direct ISAs. I have received several letters from Nationwide saying it hasn’t received the money, but when I phoned Abbey it said the money has left our old ISAs and the accounts have been closed. Nationwide is now threatening to withdraw the fixed rate ISA, but there is nothing I can do about this. KB, by email.


A.  Both Nationwide and Santander (the new owner and the new name for Abbey) have got themselves into a mess with ISA transfers in recent months.  Each blames the other for the problems you and your husband have suffered.  A spokesman for Nationwide says: “While we admit that [the reader and her husband] have not received the right level of service on this occasion, we had previously made attempts to resolve this matter with Santander.”  According to Nationwide, part of the delay was caused by it sending your application forms to an address previously used by Santander to process ISA transfers.   “I can confirm that we had not been informed by Santander at the time that the address had changed and this resulted in subsequent delays in processing the transfer requests,” says Nationwide’s spokesman.  This interpretation of events is challenged by Santander.  Its spokeswoman says: “We can confirm our applications address did change from Glasgow to Bradford at the beginning of March 2010.  However, this was updated on the TISA – Tax Incentivised Savings Association – industry-wide database one week prior to the change. We understand that TISA also sent emails to the banks to inform of the change at that time. However, to cover anything that was inadvertently missed or overlooked, post incorrectly sent to Glasgow was being redirected to the correct department.”  On this basis, says Santander, Nationwide should have known which address to send the forms to – and this should not, anyway, have caused a delay.  Santander adds: “[The reader and her husband] have requested that their ISAs be closed and funds transferred to their ISAs at Nationwide. This request has been actioned by Santander and cheques have been sent to Nationwide in accordance with instructions.   According to the customer, Nationwide advised that [the reader’s husband’s] two cheques had arrived, but had not been paid into his account and they confirmed they had not received [the reader’s] cheques.”  Four new cheques were therefore sent by Santander to Nationwide by special delivery.  Your Nationwide ISAs are now open, holding the balances transferred from Santander.  Interest on the accounts will be paid at the 4.4 per cent advertised when you tried to open the accounts: interest has been backdated on your husband’s account to 30 April, when Santander initially issued its cheque, and on your account to 7 May, when Santander issued its cheque to close your ISA account.  Nationwide is paying £50 each to you and your husband as compensation and apologies for the stress and inconvenience you have suffered trying to resolve the problems.


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