Questions of Cash: The Independent

Q. I applied at end of January for a £12,000 loan from Santander and on 7 February I received confirmation that this was successful and I received contract paperwork to sign and return. I returned the signed contract and on 11 February I received confirmation that the £12,000 had been paid into my current account. Ten days later I was concerned that the money was still not available. I telephoned Santander and was told there was a problem with the computer server and the transfer to my account had been delayed. I was promised that the money would be transferred within five to seven days. At the end of those seven days I phoned again and was told the transfer of money was imminent and would be available for withdrawal in one or two days. I was therefore completely shocked to receive a letter dated 1 March informing me that my loan had been declined. AB, Dorset.

A This was, says Santander, a systems error and your application should not have been turned down. Santander’s spokeswoman explains: “We are sorry for the inconvenience [the reader] has experienced. This problem was caused by an internal IT issue. It affected a small number of customers who requested for Santander loans to be paid into Cahoot bank accounts. This problem has now been resolved and we have contacted those affected. [The reader] has confirmed that the funds have been paid into his Cahoot account and he has accepted our apologies and £145 in full and final settlement of the matter.”

Q. I have been a Halifax customer for 24 years. When I checked my account online on 25 February I saw a debit card transaction to O2 Prepay Slough for £15. I do not have a prepay mobile phone and believed this transaction to be fraudulent. I immediately rang Halifax. The operative created a report for the fraudulent transaction, but said that he couldn’t cancel my card as my account was shown as ‘dormant’. As I use my account regularly and have direct debits coming from it, I don’t see how it can be dormant. I was promised, despite this, that my debit card would be cancelled and replaced. On 28 February I phoned to check that my card had been cancelled and was told that it had not been, but that the operative was doing so while I spoke to him and that a new card would be with me in five to seven days. When I checked my account online on 2 March I found there had been another fraudulent transaction, again to O2 Prepay Slough for £15, which had been taken from my account on the 28 February. I again phoned Halifax and the operative added the report of another fraudulent transaction, but told me that a new card hadn’t been sent and that my security details needed to be reset. The matter should have been resolved on my first phone call. I was massively inconvenienced by not having a debit card; I have had to borrow from friends; and paid £4.48 in calls to Halifax. JP, Dartford.

A Halifax agrees that it should have cancelled your card when you first called. The bank’s fraud department confirms your view that if the bank had cancelled your card correctly, it is unlikely that the further fraudulent transaction would have been made. Halifax is unclear why its staff did not follow proper procedures, but managers have been told of the incident and the errors by operatives. Your account has been refunded with the amounts you lost from the frauds, plus an extra £50 to compensate for your distress and inconvenience. We questioned Halifax on whether the payment was adequate given that you had to borrow money, but Halifax says the amount of the compensation was in accordance with standard procedures and that you could have withdrawn money from within a branch while waiting for your replacement debit card.

Q I have discovered two uncashed and expired dividend cheques relating to a small number of National Grid shares that I hold. One was for £102.70 and the other £3.37 I wrote to Capita Registrars and asked how I could get them re-validated. It told me there would be a £16.50 fee for providing a dividend cheque for more than £100 – I presume it would be free below that. Since the amount due to me was only £2.70 over their £100 threshold, I reasoned that I would be better-off asking for a cheque for £99.99 and foregoing the £2.70. Capita insists that the cheques must be issued for the full amount, so I am forced to pay the extortionate £16.50 fee. DN, London.

A Capita has agreed to waive the fee as one-off goodwill gesture. Its normal charging structure, as approved by National Grid, is free for replacing cheques of up to £29.99; £13.25 for cheques of £30 to £99.99; and £16.50 for cheques valued over £100. Capita says this covers its actual administration costs of issuing the cheques. It does not have the authority to send you a payment for less than the amount due to you, nor would it be able to reconcile its accounts if it did so. All future payments will be made directly into your bank account to avoid the problem recurring.

Q. I’m trying to get £34.29 refunded for shipping a faulty item back to Musikhaus Thomann in Germany – an online store. To make things worse it sent me the same item twice. I’ve been trying for weeks via email and phone to recover my postal costs, but it is ignoring me. PK, by email.

A Within minutes of us contacting Musikhaus Thomann the company promised a refund if you sent to them proof of despatch and the cost of postage. We contacted you, but you were unwilling to do this as you had sent it previously. Instead you sent us the documentation which we forwarded to Musikhaus Thomann by email. Payment was immediately authorised and was credited to your card account the following week.

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