Q. I invested £21,000 in a two year fixed rate bond with the Cheshire Building Society, which matured on 29 September. I returned a form requesting that the balance be paid into my Co-operative Bank current account. I received a letter from the Cheshire confirming this arrangement. The following day I received a letter saying that it was being re-invested in another two year bond. I phoned the Cheshire and pointed this out and was assured the balance would be transferred by BACS to my current account. When I returned from holiday on 31 October, the money was still not in my Co-op account. I emailed the Cheshire and was phoned later the same day and told that the bank account number on the form that I returned was not clear, but it had tried to send the balance to what they thought was my account. This was returned by the bank. Surely if there was any doubt about the correct account information I should have been contacted for confirmation? The society managed to transfer the interest to the correct account on 3 October. I had intended to use the proceeds to pay-off a loan taken out by my daughter, which as a result of the delay has accumulated an additional £382.50 interest. DF, Crewe.
A. The Cheshire Building Society is now part of the Nationwide Building Society. The Nationwide confirms that the problem relates to a misreading of the account number you provided on the form transferring the proceeds of the bond to your current account with The Co-operative Bank. This led to the transfer to a wrong account being rejected on two occasions, though it has since been successfully transferred. Nationwide accepts that it should have contacted you at an early stage to confirm the account number, which would have avoided the difficulties. A spokesman for the Nationwide says: “We sincerely apologise for not contacting [the reader] straight away to clarify the account number and for the inconvenience that this situation has caused him. We are also sorry for the poor customer service that he has received in this matter.” Nationwide is sending you a cheque for £457.50, representing the additional interest incurred on your daughter’s loan, plus a goodwill payment in recognition of the inconvenience that you have suffered.
Q. I am a director of a small business and I have been for 40 years. Our van insurance is with Aviva, which from this year no longer accepts payment by cheque. Like many small companies, we have no credit or debit card and make most our payments by online bank transfer, which Aviva refuses to accept. Aviva also refused to accept a cash payment. I have had to make the payment by personal debit card, which both HMRC and my accountant say is bad practice. CM, London.
A. A spokeswoman for Aviva confirms the position. She says: “Aviva stopped accepting cheques in 2009, mainly so that customers’ payments could be taken more efficiently and quickly. Previously if there were delays in us receiving a cheque via the post this could have affected the customer’s policy renewing on time. By paying by credit/debit card our systems can authorise payment straight away and therefore our customers do not have a delay in getting their policies renewed. Payment can also be taken by direct debit and each year, subject to the customer being happy with the renewal premium, the policy can be automatically renewed without them having to call us. Unfortunately we also don’t accept BACS payment or have the facility to take cash payments as we do not hold money on our premises. All transactions are normally dealt with via our call centres directly over the telephone, or by using the online facility. This is likely to be the case now with most large insurers.”
Q. I have been a Vodafone customer for 18 years and currently have three mobile accounts with them. I switched to paperless bills last year and as a consequence did not spot that in August 2010 Vodafone booked a fourth line to my account and started charging me £30 a month for the account. There have never been any call charges on the line and it is obviously an administrative error. I spotted the problem in July this year and called Vodafone and request that the line be cancelled. I also asked for a refund of the over £500 I have been charged for this line. Despite 20 calls, an email and two letters, I am still being charged for the line. At around the time the extra charges began, my son changed his BlackBerry and Vodafone initially sent the wrong model, which was returned. On one of my calls to Vodafone, the representative mentioned about the BlackBerry, but could not tell me where or when the handset was supposedly delivered or collected. Only Vodafone’s fraud office could explain about that, but I wasn’t permitted to talk to them. Vodafone told me to go to the police and report a fraud, but the police aren’t interested as they regard this as just corporate incompetence. GM, London.
A. A spokeswoman for Vodafone explains: “It seems an order for a Nokia N900 was place online on 7 July 2010 and was delivered to a Vodafone store. On collection, a card was presented for identification and was verified as being registered to the customer’s address. However, at the time of ordering [the reader’s] son ordered a new connection instead of an upgrade. Customer services wrongly assumed this to be fraud rather than human error, which is why it has taken so long to sort out. We have apologised to [the reader] and have arranged to credit all the payments taken in error. We have also made an offer of a month’s free line rental for each of the three numbers on his account as gesture of goodwill and in recognition of the inconvenience he has suffered.”