Money Grouse: Girobank compounds direct debit error

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The Independent Online
BETTY ADAMS is disgusted with the treatment she has received from Girobank, with which she opened an account last year.

Not only did it try to blame her for its own mistake over a standing order request she made, it also charged her pounds 19 for the mistake, leaving the account pounds 9 overdrawn.

Mrs Adams, a retired music teacher living in Wales, said: 'If I had been a business person that denial of credit could have meant the end of my business.'

In August 1993, Mrs Adams applied to open a current account with Girobank, which is now part of Alliance & Leicester Building Society. She was persuaded to do so by a friend, who told her that both of them would be paid a pounds 10 bonus if she did so.

'The condition was that a minimum of pounds 300 a month had to be paid into my new account,' Mrs Adams said. 'The application form had a standing order debit, so I filled it in and sent it to Girobank.'

The pounds 10 'reward' was immediately credited to her account. A month later, to her surprise, Mrs Adams received another statement telling her she was pounds 9 overdrawn.

When she queried this, the bank told her that the overdraft had been caused because the standing order was to transfer pounds 300 a month from Girobank into her account with the Co-operative Bank and not the other way round.

Mrs Adams then discovered that despite Girobank's claims of an error on her part, the Co-op had repeatedly tried to pay pounds 300 a month into her new account, only to have the money returned.

In January this year, Mrs Adams applied for a GM Vauxhall credit card. She was told she was not credit-worthy - despite never having been in debt in her life.

The reason? She was pounds 9 overdrawn in her Girobank account. Her card was only granted in May after lengthy protests.

She said: 'The treatment I received has been disgraceful. It would take a lot for Girobank to convince me that they should keep my custom.'

A Girobank spokesman said: 'We have already written to Mrs Adams apologising for the fact that a misinterpretation of her standing order led to all these problems.'

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