Despite repeated letters from him, the company took several months to resolve a simple administrative problem.
Mr Smith, a retired teacher who is already a direct investor in equities, opted in March for the self-select PEP with Killik & Co, which allows switches of investments within a tax-free shelter.
By mistake, one of the cheques he used to pay for his investment was taken from his current account, rather than a separate one used for his business affairs. He telephoned Killik and was advised to cancel that cheque and send one from the correct account.
The matter then appeared to be sorted out - until Mr Smith received a cheque for £6,000 from Killik, equal to the first payment he had already cancelled. He called the firm again and was told to send the cheque back, which he did. However, the next time he tried to deal through Killik & Co, he was told his account had no money in it. Although the matter was resolved, the same thing happened again a few weeks later.
Mr Smith wrote to Killik & Co outlining the problem but the only reply he got was a letter telling him that he was several thousand pounds in debt.
It took several more letters from Mr Smith before Killik & Co accepted in late September that he did not owe it any money. He said: "If you are dealing with a stockbroker, you have to be confident that their record-keeping is up to scratch. If it can't do a simple thing like that, it makes you wonder about all the other activities it engages in."
Matthew Orr, compliance officer at Killik & Co, said: "In any business where there is a human interaction there will be some errors. Our aim is to avoid making them and put them right where they have happened . . . Out of 16,000 clients, many of whom have come to us precisely for our self-select PEP, I have only had to deal with a couple of complaints in the past three months. But we are very sorry that this mistake occurred."
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