Money Grouse: Cheque clearance is still hitting delays

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The Independent Online
THE past few weeks have seen NatWest and Midland banks cut their cheque clearing times from three days to two.

So now interest is earned on the third day after a cheque is paid in. However, the building societies continue to have much longer cheque clearance times, as David Penwarne, a retired civil servant from Herefordshire, found out.

Mr Penwarne had pounds 66,801.71 in a Nationwide 60-day deposit account. When the difference between the Nationwide account's interest rate and a Woolwich account reached one percentage point, he decided to switch his money.

Mr Penwarne withdrew his money from Nationwide and within half an hour had paid his cheque into Woolwich.

He said: 'The recent publicity surrounding cheque clearance times prompted me to ask the society about it.' He pointed out recent comments from Nigel Griffiths, the shadow consumer minister, that building societies were making pounds 300m a year on the money markets by delaying clearance.

He said he was told that it would take four working days before interest was credited. In the event, interest was not credited until six days later, after a weekend.

He wrote to Nationwide pointing out that it should have given him details of other, quicker means of transfer. He also asked for payment of six days' interest - pounds 73.57.

Nationwide acknowledged that he should have been told of Chaps (Cheque Automated Payment Service), which costs pounds 15 and guarantees that funds are transferred in one day, but felt that it could not offer any compensation.

Nationwide said that it could also wait for notification from the receiving bank or building society before transferring the money. The money was then moved overnight.

It said that the complexities of giving interest on the extra days were too great.

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