Money Grouse: A costly touch of second-class

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The Independent Online
IN these days of electronic transfer of money in the blink of an eye, it might seem to be a simple matter to move a sum nine miles across Yorkshire.

When the attention of a Hertfordshire reader was drawn to the fact that the interest rate on his Firstdirect Tessa (head office Leeds) was nugatory and he took a shine to the services of National & Provincial (headquarters Bradford), he thought a transfer would be simple. Not so.

First, it took five telephone calls and two weeks for N&P to send the right forms. Then Firstdirect could not decide whether there was a notice period or interest penalty for transfers: there wasn't when our reader opened his account, there is for new accounts. In the end the bank said he must give notice.

When the new passbook arrived, there was a four-day gap between the calculation of interest for the closure of the Firstdirect account and the opening of the N&P one. 'Not guilty,' said N&P.

'Although we opened the account the day after we received the cash, we always note when funds arrive and interest was backdated to the previous day. If there was any delay it must have been because Firstdirect used a second-class stamp.'

Firstdirect says its policy is to calculate interest to the day before closure of the account, but not to post the cheque until the day after - which gives it a couple of days' use of the money before clearance. A spokeswoman said: 'We do use electronic funds transfer sometimes, but generally we send a cheque with a first- class stamp.'

Write to Money Grouse, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB. Please do not send SAEs or original documents as we cannot guarantee to deal with every letter personally.

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