Questions of Cash: ‘My bank charged me for going overdrawn – but it’s Vodafone’s fault’
By Paul Gosling
Saturday, 18 October 2008
Q. Vodafone incorrectly changed my tariff, which generated an extra £75 on my next bill. As I was not expecting this, there were insufficient funds in my bank account, so I was charged £135 by my bank for an unauthorised overdraft. I have made repeated calls to Vodafone and sent it details of my bank charges and bank statements, but I have been unable to get it to make a refund. Can you help me? DM, Derby.
A. Vodafone responded with impressive urgency to us. It apologises, is refunding the overcharge and has agreed to fully compensate you for all bank charges you incurred as a result of its mistake.
Q. I am receiving two phone calls a day from Barclaycard for my brother-in-law. He has little understanding of finance and has run up debts of £40,000 on his credit card and on unsecured loans. He is about to turn 65 and will be a pensioner without the means to repay his debts. He has sent statements of his income and expenditure to all his creditors, which NatWest has accepted, but Barclaycard has not. The calls we receive amount to harassment and cause distress to the whole family. I believe Barclaycard’s actions are in breach of the Banking Code. I also think the banks were irresponsible in lending to him. SC, Birmingham.
A. Barclaycard has no trace of an income and expenditure statement from your brother-in-law. It has sent a form for him to complete, which will enable it to review the status of his debt. Barclaycard has also agreed not to phone any more.
Q. We recently moved house and changed mortgage provider. I signed the direct debit mandate for the new mortgage company – the Shepshed Building Society – in March. In May, I received a letter from the Shepshed stating that the first direct-debit payment had not gone through. I was charged £35 for this, plus interest on my arrears. I have pursued this with both my bank, Abbey, and Shepshed. Abbey says it did not receive the mandate from Shepshed until five days after the first payment date; Shepshed states that it sent the letter to Abbey five working days prior to the collection date. Shepshed has, as a gesture of goodwill, rescinded my interest charged, but refuses to refund the “bounced” direct-debit charge. I am being punished for something that is not my fault. KN, Derby.
A. Shepshed confirmed your version of events. Lynda Parrott, the building society’s lending manager, said: “The direct-debit mandate was posted to Abbey on 16 May 2008… There should have been adequate time to set the direct debit up for the first collection date on 25 May. In accordance with our tariff of charges, a charge of £30 was made in respect of the failed direct debit and, as the first payment was not received, a standard arrears charge of £10 plus £25 for an arrears letter to the borrowers. The society felt that it was not at fault but, as a gesture of goodwill, refunded the £35 relating to arrears charges. We have been unable to establish why the mandate was not date stamped until 30 May but, on telephoning Abbey, we were informed that direct-debit mandates that are sent to a branch are forwarded to head office for action. We can only assume that the delay was due to this internal transfer.” Abbey failed to respond to our repeated enquiries, but you say it has promised to also refund charges of £35.
Q. My wife signed a loan agreement with HSBC on a Saturday. She was told that if she changed her mind she must notify the bank on the following Monday as there is no “cooling-off period” for a financial agreement entered into on the bank’s own premises. We were very surprised – is this information correct? RH, Bath.
A.There was a misunderstanding between the bank official and your wife. Loans signed at a financial institution’s own premises have a cooling-off period of five days from the date on which the borrower receives written confirmation of the details. Presumably, the bank official was urging your wife to contact the bank on the Monday to ensure you were well within that deadline. However, consumers who have been “distance sold” goods or services – for example, over the phone or the internet – have a slightly longer cooling-off period under consumer protection regulations; for financial services, this is seven working days.
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