LESLEY HEWITT, a teacher from Thame, Oxfordshire, writes to us about the disappearing pounds 25 he had in a savings account at the Halifax for many years.

Recently he decided he wanted to wind up the account, trotted into his local branch and was horrified to discover that his savings were now worth precisely 98p.

The Halifax says that back in 1991 it wanted to encourage people to close down accounts with little money in them, which were expensive for it to maintain. "At times we have concerted efforts to make sure that some savers aren't subsidising others unduly," says the ex-building society.

It said it wrote to savers first a warning letter explaining this policy, then it sent another saying customers should take action and close their accounts if they had less than pounds 50 in them and if they didn't want to be charged pounds 2.50 a month.

Three months later there was a third letter waiving the first charge. But the oblivious Mr Hewitt had let his "investment" dwindle to almost nothing.

He says he is "disgusted" because he never received any such letters and he's the sort of person who would be moved to take action if he had. The Halifax says it stopped penalising savers in this way in 1994 when most customer accounts had been closed or moved.

Our researches show that it seems the Halifax is the only building society in the United Kingdom to take this kind of action.

We suggest the Halifax reimburses Mr Hewitt for the penalty charges, plus interest.