Questions of Cash: The Independent

Q. I accidentally transferred over £1,000 to a wrong account last September by using an incorrect sort code in an internet banking transfer. I realised my error within 24 hours and asked my bank, Barclays, for help. Initially Barclays told me it could not help and I must contact Lloyds, the bank to which I had accidentally transferred the funds. Lloyds refused to speak to me and will not identify the account that received the funds for data protection reasons. Lloyds said it was banking industry policy for these matters to be dealt with bank-to-bank. Barclays wrote to Lloyds and Barclays eventually informed me that Lloyds were not co-operating, so it could do no more. I contacted Lloyds again and was told that it had a record of a conversation between it and Barclays wherein Barclays stated that it would reimburse me, so suggested Lloyds did no more. I reported this to Barclays, who said that this must have been a customer relations person who had no authority to make this commitment. I told Barclays this had prejudiced my chances of getting Lloyds TSB to take the matter further, but Barclays declined to offer further assistance. I contacted the Financial Ombudsman Service, but was told I could not ask them to get involved as I was not a Lloyds customer.  MF, Surrey.

A Losses caused by errors made when making internet banking transfers appear to be growing, judging by our post bag. Barclays says its records suggest you first raised the matter with them on 27 October.  This is inconsistent with Lloyds’ records, which indicate that it spoke to Barclays about this problem in September.  Lloyds says it has a record of a conversation between its customer services department and ‘Nick’ at Barclays at that time, in which ‘Nick’ agreed that Barclays would bear the loss.  But Barclays has no record of this conversation, does not know who the ‘Nick’ might be and says that as the error was yours, it is not prepared to cover your loss.  Barclays suggests that the only option for you is to take legal action, seeking a ‘Notice of Disclosure Order’ against Lloyds, to require it to state who the account holder is.  If successful, you could then sue the account holder seeking to recover the loss.  But Barclays warns that the cost of this legal action could be significant and possibly greater than the sum involved.  It looks as if you will just have to accept the loss and be more careful with online transfers in future.

Q. About a year ago I had Virgin’s broadband, TV and phone service installed. My monthly bill is between £36 and £40 a month. My latest monthly bill is £54, yet there is no change in my service requirements. I telephoned Virgin and told that it appeared I had asked for Virgin’s Digital Home Support service to be added back in November and this was the first time the service had been billed. I have never asked for any additional services from Virgin. I have requested the additional charges be reversed and for someone to call me to explain how I could be billed for a service that I had not ordered. I was assured the charge would be reversed on the next bill, but I am waiting to see if that materializes and no one has called me. RB, London.

A Virgin Medi’sa spokeswoman says: “We have conducted a thorough investigation into this issue to establish how this service was added to [your reader’s] account. We can confirm this was an isolated incident due to a manual administrational error and we can confirm that no other customers have been affected. We have updated [the reader] with the outcome of our investigation and passed his feedback to the relevant teams. We are reviewing our processes to ensure this cannot happen again, but in the meantime we have cleared any charges from [the reader’s] account and have apologised for the mistake.”

Q. At the beginning of the 2009/10 season Tottenham Hotspur offered two year season tickets at twice the one year price, thus avoiding any price increase for the second season and any increase in the rate of VAT. Spurs also offered its own branded credit card through MBNA, with interest-free credit for six months, which would allow me to spread the cost of the season ticket. I applied for the credit card, but was declined as I had ‘sufficient available lines of credit already available’. I have two Mastercards, with aggregate credit limits of £16,900, which are rarely used and always paid in full before the due date. Last year I applied for an Amex Platinum card. Again I was rejected as I ‘did not match our minimum required score’ on credit checking, although ‘no derogatory information was found’. I obtained my credit files from Equifax, Experian and Callcredit. There was no negative information on any of them. My wife and I are in well-paid professional salaried work, with a manageable mortgage significantly lower than the equity in the property. So I don’t understand why I can’t get credit. AF, by email.

A You probably have too much credit already available, though mostly unused, to obtain further credit. James Jones of Experian says: “To increase his chances of being accepted for a new card he should either close one of his existing cards or ask one or both existing card providers to reduce his credit limits significantly. Although he’s not using these limits, it is credit he could access with no further checks and, as a result, most lenders will factor this into their affordability calculations.” Jones adds that voluntarily reducing your credit limit on an existing card should not have any negative effect on your overall credit status. He says: “Unnecessarily high limits can become a barrier to new credit and that is probably his problem at the moment.”

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