Questions of Cash: The Independent

Q.  I moved to the Philippines and notified my banks, Lloyds and Halifax.  The two banks repeatedly sent correspondence to my old address in England and have even sent highly sensitive documents there.  Lloyds has made my account with them dormant, against my wishes.  I have lodged a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service, about this and other matters, which has been upheld, but I cannot get my compensation paid to me.  NL, the Philippines.


A  Despite being a problem that should have been simple to settle, this has taken several years and seemed intractable in recent months.  The Financial Ombudsman Service awarded you £150 from Lloyds and £125 from Halifax.  Unfortunately, Lloyds stated for a long time it was unable to pay you this money.  The reason for this was that it had lost your original notification of your move to the Philippines and insisted that it could only make the transfer once it was formally advised (again) of the change of address.  It has now accepted that the payment can be made – from both Lloyds and Halifax – into your previously dormant Lloyds account.  Those payments have now been made.  This is no doubt a source of relief to you: it certainly is to us.


Q.  My 17 year old daughter has a cash card account with the Nationwide Building Society.  She has been told she cannot upgrade this to a current account with a debit card.  Can other banks offer current accounts with debit cards to the under 18s?  VS, Litchfield.


A.  HSBC offers a full debit card facility on its MyAccount from age 13, while Santander and the Co-operative Bank offer current accounts with debit cards from age 16.  Nationwide offers its FlexAccount to the over 16s, with a cash card that has most of the functions of a debit card, including cash withdrawal facilities and the ability to conduct transactions in shops or online.  The card can be used internationally.  However, the FlexAccount does not allow customers to go overdrawn.  Therefore the card can only be used for transactions providing the retailer can obtain confirmation that there are sufficient funds in the account to enable the transaction to be processed.  Barclays offers similar account facilities.  Full debit card facilities are only available with Nationwide at age 18. 


Q.  I opened a cash ISA with Marks & Spencer Financial Services a few months ago.  At the beginning of September, I deposited a cheque of £1,000 from my building society account into the ISA. The cheque was returned because it was not endorsed as required.  I rang M&S FS and was told that an investigation would be carried out.  The result of this internal investigation agreed the cheque was not correctly endorsed.  I wrote and challenged their findings.  A second letter from them agreed the original decision, but admitted that my name was printed on the cheque. The guidance in the leaflet is that the building society must correctly endorse the cheque and that the account number and account holder’s name be printed on the cheque by the building society: my cheque had both my name and the building society account number printed on it.  I believe the instructions in the leaflet are incorrect and should be amended and I have lost interest as a result.  TM, Weston-super-Mare.

A.  A spokeswoman for Marks & Spencer Financial Services says: “The building society cheque was not suitably endorsed with [the reader’s] building society account details. We require that a building society account number be either printed or handwritten on the cheque.  In [the reader’s] case, two account numbers were printed on the cheque, neither of which could be confirmed as his.  The reason for these checks is to ensure that the funds being invested are the customer’s own.”  M&S FS says it will now review its procedures in the light of your criticisms.


Q.  I have just received my car renewal quote and it has doubled.  I live in Liverpool L17 and the problem seems to be right across all the city.  I rang up the insurer, Sainsbury’s, and complained. They said there had been an increase in fraudulent claims.  But enquiries on a price comparison website and with a broker came up with even more expensive alternative quotes.  Is there anything I can do about this?  I am a personal injury lawyer and I believe that insurers are hiking premiums to cover their investment losses.  PM, Liverpool.


A.  Sainsbury’s Finance confirms that your car insurance premium has risen from £541.91 last year to £973.15 this year.  Its spokeswoman says: “The increase is down to the increase in postcode rating.  [This is caused by] the effect of adverse experience: i.e. high personal injury claims experience from third parties when accidents occur which can have a dramatic effect on the premium, but it reflects our actual experience.  We have to calculate premiums on the basis that the premiums we take in will cover the claims we pay out.  We suspect this is not only the case with ourselves, but also with many other insurers.”  Sainsbury’s Finance argues that despite the premium increase its prices are competitive and that it would cost you £1,100 to insure your car with a competitor, based on online price comparison website quotes.  Malcolm Tarling of the Association of British Insurers adds: “I am not aware of particular problems in Liverpool, albeit that there are post codes in most UK cities that attract higher premiums due to higher claims rates.  It is certainly true that, across the board, the trend is for motor insurance premium rates to be increasing.  This is due to rising claims costs, most notably in settling personal injury awards, but also fraudulent claims and uninsured driving.”



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